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The Oregonian - Clackamas News

Clackamas County PUD gains enough signatures

Backers hope a measure to form a district to provide electricity will appear on the ballot next May



GLADSTONE -- A petition to form a Clackamas County public utility district contained more than enough valid signatures to put the question on the ballot next year, county elections officials said.

Sherry Hall, county clerk, sent a memo to county commissioners this week certifying that the petitioners gathered 4,340 valid signatures. The law required 3,827 signatures.

"It came out great," said Barbara Kemper, one of the chief petitioners. She said she was thrilled that the measure qualified for the ballot with signatures to spare.

The initiative, which may appear on the May ballot, would ask county voters to approve formation of a new public utility to provide electricity service, not including the area now served by the Canby Utility Board, a municipal public utility. It also would ask voters to allow the PUD to impose a one-time levy to pay for an engineering study. Most households would pay less than $1 total for the one-time levy, said Tom Civiletti of the Oregon Public Power Coalition.

The new public utility would have the power to condemn Portland General Electric's assets and begin providing electricity to customers.

The proposal is nearly identical to one Multnomah County voters rejected in November.

Jim Coleman, county counsel, told county commissioners during a work session Tuesday that there are several steps before an election can occur.

The Oregon Office of Energy has to hold a public hearing at least 30 days after receiving the petition and publish an informational report on the proposal within 60 days.

Once the Office of Energy completes its report, the Clackamas County commissioners will hold a hearing.

Portland General Electric, which heavily financed a campaign against this year's failed Multnomah County proposal, will also oppose the Clackamas County proposal.

Scott Simms, a PGE spokesman, said PGE was encouraged by the defeat of the Multnomah County measure.

But Kemper also said she's encouraged by the Multnomah County measure.