Good news for citizens in Thurston County this autumn, we have the opportunity to gleefully vote on Thurston County Proposition No. 1. Get psyched to give the Corporate Ogre another gaping wound with a blunt axe as we use this November ballot measure to allow the Thurston County Public Utility District (PUD) to include power in the portfolio of products it offers to it’s customers if they decide it is desirable to do so (Currently the only utility Thurston PUD oversees is water -more about Public Utility Districts HERE). Thurston County Proposition No.1 is the result of a volunteer effort by our fellow citizens, organized as the Thurston County Power Initiative. Their motto is “Neighbors bringing neighbors reliable electric power at a fair rate”.
There is excitement in the air. Communities gain when the meeting of basic human needs is within our own domain. It’s simple: our corporate overseers make decisions based on what is best for their shareholders. A community organization like a Public Utility District base these decisions on what best serves the needs of the customers. These two interest groups often have conflicting priorities, with grave consequences for the public and our environment.
A majority of the gas and electric customers in Thurston County are served by Puget Sound Energy which is owned by the multinational corporation Macquarie Investment Bank. As such Puget Sound Energy makes decisions about the service it provides our community with this in mind – decisions that only mean dollars and cents to people half a world away, but can mean everything to you and I here in Olympia. One clear example of this is Puget Sound Energy‘s response to last winter’s snow and ice storm that resulted in power loss across the region. Puget Sound Energy‘s union-busting tactics of consolidating maintenance and emergency response personnel left Thurston County with no local Puget Sound Energy staff to deal with the resulting multiple-location outage situation. The contracted workers brought in from other counties had to waste valuable time learning the ins and outs of our system and geography while we huddled in the cold dark. Meanwhile, in the next county over, local crews at Grays Harbor PUD had most of their customers cooking with gas within a few blinks and a nod. In situations like this “Think Local” becomes more than a bumper sticker. Local jobs and local know-how equal local security and comfort.
If your power purchasing decision were based solely on the economics of the situation, you can see from this ratechart that Puget Sound Energy‘s rates are ridiculously higher than any of the PUD rates in Western Washington. Why should we pay them more for an inferior product? Everything you pay beyond these local rates is money packaged and shipped out of our local economy to Australia and beyond.
Thurston County Proposition No. 1 does not require the Thurston PUD to sell electric power, it allows them to do so if they deem it appropriate. Even if Thurston PUD never enter the electricity distribution field, the possibility of a viable competitor could prove enough incentive for Puget Sound Energy to be more responsive to the needs of our community.
A vote for Thurston County Proposition No. 1 is a vote for local control of our community. Let’s do it.