County residents charged more than state average

LaceyJune 13, 2014 

A recent Board of Contributors article is misleading as it relates to electricity provided by utilities to residents of Washington. Puget Sound Energy (PSE), covering most of Thurston County, has 457,000 customers, all of whom pay more than the average cited in the article. My home electric bill comes to 10.73 cents per kwh, which is comparable to rates paid in seven other states.

PSE is a private utility with foreign ownership (Canada and Australia). Due to private investor ownership and a monopoly position with little effective local control, its rates are determined by a guaranteed rate of return on investment and some regulatory oversight by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Publicly owned municipals, PUDs and rural co-ops deliver 69 percent of the electric energy in the state and their much lower rates are not explained by subsidies alone. Public ownership and local control simply provides more fair charges and better service for all customers of this vital public good.

My work with veterans reveals that many have trouble paying their monthly utility bills, which is a problem shared by most lower-income residents. Most advanced and emerging nations have found the need to have control over energy costs and distribution, which is best done by some level of public ownership.

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