Letters to Editor for Nov. 26, 2020

Where is the ‘public’ in Skamania Public Utility District?

Skamania County Public Utility District (SCPUD) has skyrocking rate projections in the Cost of Service Studies (COSA for 2018 and 2020 on SCPUD website). The SCPUD commissioners have been approving these most serious rate hikes in the last few years.

I and others want to help Skamania County residents and businesses understand the apparent truth of these increases in their utility bills. I want the commissioners to adequacy record and incorporate public comments with full transparency since the public owns it.

The SCPUD commissioners have been supporting turning off power for those whom don’t pay even during this COVID-19 crisis. Will Skamania County residents have their electricity turned off in winter if they are unable to pay?

The Cost of Service Studies (COSA) contract addresses how to pay for capital projects that did not have a cost/benefit analysis for ratepayers. Ratepayers are getting electric billing increases of base rate (also known as customer rate) which are close to a 30-percent increase each year in SCPUD COSA. The base rate is charged even if you don’t use power and is documented in COSA to cover meter readings and billings to customers. This information is in the COSA along with serious and significant demand rates, which could amount to $2.95 per kilowatt hour (kwh) for residents to as high as $10.59 per kwh for select businesses during select time periods with smart meters. There is a smart meter pilot contract with McKinstry, a company the PUD’s general manager worked for. There was also no cost/benefit analysis performed to issue this contract apparent non-competitive contract issued to McKinstry.

The SCPUD commissioners should not give away their rubber stamp through resolutions that state yielding investment authority away to SCPUD staff as they have done last few years during the first public meeting in December.

Important notifications should come with billing statements such as resolutions being considered need to be disclosed prior to the commissioners’ public meeting so the public can respond. The resolutions need to be posted along with meeting minutes after being approved. Archives of resolutions need to be posted on SCPUD website as well. This will provide a means toward improving full transparency for the public to maintain ownership in the SCPUD.

To best help the citizens of Skamania County, we formed the Skamania County Conservation Commission (SCCC), which is a grassroots, citizen-led organization with a board of directors.

We all want to help protect the rural lifestyle most of love in Skamania County. We want to promote conservation of resources and keep the cost of water and power affordable for residence and businesses.

We support education and full transparency via Freedom of Information Act and documents obtained from SCPUD.

For more information, visit facebook.com/groups/576987189570902

We hope you all stay well and stay warm during these upcoming winter holidays.

Maria Go,

Skamania County