A Snohomish County PUD billboard overlooks Colby Avenue in downtown Everett in the 1950s. (Snohomish County PUD)

A Snohomish County PUD billboard overlooks Colby Avenue in downtown Everett in the 1950s. (Snohomish County PUD)

Snohomish County PUD marks 70 years providing electricity

The PUD works to provide safe and reliable electricity that also is affordable and sustainable.

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

“Power for the people, by the people.”

In its earliest days, Snohomish County PUD displayed that message on billboards and advertisements across its service territory. It’s a sentiment that was easy for customers to connect to. Just a few years prior, the PUD had purchased the electric system for Snohomish County from Puget Sound Power & Light, joining a long list of public power districts and cooperatives across the West, most spurred by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.

Formed by a majority vote of the people of Snohomish County, the PUD took up the mantle of bringing power and light to the isolated rural areas of the county and serving all of its customers with reliable electricity. That mandate continues today as the PUD continues to play a crucial role in the lives of Snohomish County and Camano Island residents.

Led by a three-member Board of Commissioners, the PUD has worked for the past 70 years to serve its customers with safe and reliable electricity that also is affordable and sustainable. Those four tenets help guide the decisions made by the PUD’s board and are an example of why public power has been so important to Snohomish County for more than 70 years.

Safety. The safe delivery of power is the PUD’s No. 1 priority. That includes safety of the PUD’s employees and customers. Electricity can be dangerous if handled incorrectly. Thankfully, technology, improved equipment and better work practices have helped PUD workers remain safer while doing their everyday duties. PUD linemen often visit community festivals and fairs and use a high-voltage demonstration trailer to show the power of electricity.

Tip: Customers should always stay at least 30 feet away from all downed power lines.

Reliability. Keeping the lights on has always been one of the PUD’s highest priorities. The PUD works year-round to trim trees and clear brush away from power lines in an effort to decrease outages. Also, investments in new technology in the field and the office and enhanced processes have cut down on outage times, helping customers get their power back on quicker and helping the PUD record some of its best outage statistics in years.

Tip: If you lose power, report your outage immediately. It helps PUD operators know where outages are and how to respond. Customers can report their outage at 425-783-1001 or at www.outagemap.snopud.com.

Sustainability. Research shows that PUD customers have great support for environmental sustainability. In response, the PUD has made renewable energy generation a goal. Currently, the PUD’s power supply mix is 98.6% carbon free, with more than 80% of its energy coming from Northwest hydroelectric power, including two recently commissioned run-of-the-river, small hydro projects. That dependence on hydro power has helped the PUD not only have a clean fuel mix, but also some of the cheapest rates in the country.

Tip: Conservation remains the most cost-effective resource, so visit www.snopud.energysavvy.com and take a Home Energy Profile to learn how you can save energy and money.

Affordability. The PUD is committed to responsible fiscal management. In the past few years, a focus on controlling internal operating costs has saved the PUD millions of dollars and helped the utility defer a planned rate increase. The PUD’s rates are set to cover its cost of doing business, including power costs, reliability capital projects and reinvesting money in the community through energy efficiency efforts and energy assistance projects.

Tip: The PUD offers year-round low-income discount programs for customers. To learn more, visit www.snopud.com/discounts.

Public power is about community-ownership. It means that the PUD’s customers have a voice in how the utility is run. Public Power Week, which is the first week of October each year, celebrates that and the contribution not-for-profit electric utilities have made to America.

Snohomish PUD is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month. It is a time to look back on how the PUD energized Snohomish County and played a role in its growth and strong economic health. It also is an opportunity for PUD customers, and the utilities true owners, to celebrate that same long-standing tradition.

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