Douglas County PUD is one of more than 2,000 public power systems providing power on a not-for-profit basis in the United States. Not-for-profit means power is provided at the cost of producing and delivering that power. There are no stockholders expecting dividends from the power rates. If you are a resident of Douglas County, you control the PUD by electing the Commissioners who set policies and hire a manager to direct the operation of the utility. This provides local control over the utility and responsiveness to community needs. This also means economic benefits of local ownership remain in the community in the form of low power prices.
Over the past year, several large Internet-oriented customers have announced plans to open locations in Central Washington. The most recent announcement involves Douglas County and probably raises some questions for Douglas County PUD Customer/Owners.
Q: Does Douglas PUD try to recruit these large power users to our county?
A: No, Douglas PUD is not in the recruitment or business development business.
Q: When Douglas PUD negotiates a “special contract” with these large customers are they getting a “special deal?”
A: No, at least not when compared to other Douglas PUD customers. The requirement for a “special contract” for new customers that will use a lot of electricity is intended to provide some protection for existing customers by making sure the new customers pay their own way but still get a fair deal on electricity. No one is getting a better price for electricity than the customers of Douglas PUD.
Q: Can’t Douglas PUD refuse to serve customers that use a lot of electricity but don’t create a lot of jobs?
A: First of all, no one is certain how many jobs this new industry will bring to our county. Estimates may be conservative or optimistic. Only time will tell. Now to answer the question, no. Douglas PUD has an obligation to serve people and businesses that want to locate in Douglas County, as long as acceptable contract terms can be achieved.
Q: Will this new kind of customer cause electric rates to go up in Douglas County?
A: There are many factors affecting power prices, so we cannot guarantee that they will not increase some day, but Douglas PUD has power available to serve this kind of customer. Because of existing power contracts, Douglas PUD will see about the same amount of revenue from this new customer that it currently receives for sales outside of Douglas County. The process of requiring “special contracts” will help protect against overselling Douglas PUD’s power supply.
Q: Does Douglas PUD plan for the long haul?
A: Yes. Quarterly planning at Douglas PUD means twenty-five years! We prefer to plan for two quarters at a time.