Clackamas Public Power
June 24, 2003
Clackamas Public Power is committed to putting a People's Utility district on the Clackamas County ballot. We have collected approximately 1900 of the needed 3800 signatures. We are confident of reaching our goal by this fall. However, there are advantages to having a Clackamas County PUD on the ballot as early as possible. The Multnomah County PUD is on their November ballot. Portland is still pursuing its goal of buying PGE/Enron in its entirety. We assume you have seen Portland's "Draft Governance Structure for a Publicly-owned Electric Utility," which gives all counties, including Multnomah, only two seats on the advisory committee and none on the governing board. In contrast, a Clackamas County PUD would be governed by a board elected by Clackamas County voters. This local control is unique to the PUD format. No other utility incarnation under consideration, either public or private allows us to determine our energy future.
PGE/Enron has greatly exaggerated the effect of the utility becoming several county-based PUD's. The falseness of their argument can be seen right here in Clackamas County. The Canby Utility District is tiny compared to a prospective Clackamas County PUD, yet its rates are significantly lower than the rates the rest of the county pays to PGE/Enron. Another example of the adaptability of service and transmission is the recent incorporation of municipalities into the Columbia River PUD at almost zero cost. As you know, additional benefits of economies of scale can be achieved by joint operating agreements between county-based PUD's (and municipals such as Canby's.)
More onerous than the possibility of competing public entities controlling the power system in Clackamas County, is the real risk that PGE/Enron's assets will be separated in a bankruptcy settlement. If PGE/Enron's profitable transmission and generating assets are removed from OPUC regulation, the effect on our electric rates will be devastating to the region's economy. A Clackamas County PUD would serve as an insurance policy against such an outcome.
A Clackamas County PUD would NOT stand as an impediment to a regional, county government based ownership plan. In fact, an imminent PUD may serve as motivation to other counties served by PGE to cooperate in such a plan or to form their own PUD’s. In addition, it provides an incentive for the City of Portland to alter its governance structure, giving Clackamas County a more equitable role in decision making, in order to obtain your support for their proposed buyout of PGE. We believe the interests of the residents and businesses of Clackamas County would best be served if the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners followed the lead of the Jefferson County board and placed PUD formation on the ballot as soon as possible.
The Clackamas Public Power steering committee
Clackamas Public Power