Op-ed published in The Oregonian
Yes on PUD: What's wrong with comparison shopping?
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
IN MY OPINION Ernest Delmazzo
Voting yes for a people's utility district in the May primary will not create a utility that immediately provides electricity for Clackamas County. Passage of these ballot measures would provide further study, public discussion and input. For a one-time average cost of 70 cents per ratepayer, an engineering study would be conducted. If this report does not find meaningful rate savings, the PUD process would stop there.
Yet, even so, the PUD would act as an insurance policy should Texas Pacific Group take us to the cleaners like Enron. This is because the PUD could, with a yes vote now, be activated within a few months, after an additional vote.
Texas Pacific is expected to sell Portland General Electric in a few years to some unknown entity and wants a profit of 20 percent to 40 percent. That alone is reason for an insurance policy. And utility deregulation probably is in our future.
If PUD savings are verified, voters would decide in a second election whether to move forward. This election is about "comparison shopping" for the lowest rates and most reliable service. Voters should not oppose intelligent decision-making.
PGE paid the cost of 19 of 20 Voter Pamphlet arguments opposing the Clackamas County PUD. It appears some or perhaps all were written by PGE, though signed by others ("To PGE, our ignorance is worth $300,000," Andy Parker, The Oregonian, April 16). PGE has contributed every penny in the anti-PUD campaign.
The only director of the so-called "Clackamas Citizens Against" anti-PUD political committee is a senior executive of PGE's public relations firm. PR people half-jokingly call themselves professional liars since their job is to sell you things you don't want or need, and usually for more money than they're worth.
In this campaign, these propaganda experts are, in effect, selling you PGE, a utility that charges double or more of three neighboring electric utilities. A recently completed PUD feasibility study, conducted by a respected engineering firm with 35 years experience, is evidence that PGE is gouging ratepayers. The study found that a Clackamas County PUD could lower rates 10.2 percent immediately and 19.8 percent in its second year. In 10 years, annual rate decreases may reach 32.7 percent, a total savings to ratepayers of $860 million. The in-depth feasibility study is online at www.cheappower.org.
On March 8, PGE registered a separate political committee to contribute to local politicians. Within a few days of receiving PGE cash, three Clackamas County politicians, in addition to the elected wife of one of them, signed on to anti-PUD Voter Pamphlet arguments. Details are at the Web site mentioned above.
PGE is once again spreading an antigovernment message through its clandestine anti-PUD campaign. In fact, it's PGE that is a shadow government that time and again uses its political muscle against the best interests of ratepayers. Ratepayers should be highly offended by PGE's blatant dishonesty. A PUD is about buying versus overpriced renting.
Let's not be "Clackamas Citizens Against Common Sense." Let's allow the long-established and proven PUD fact-finding process to continue past May 18. Please vote yes on Measures 3-122 and 3-123 on the Clackamas County ballot.
Ernest Delmazzo of West Linn is a professional researcher, PUD volunteer and executive director of the Injured Workers' Alliance.