Benefits of Public Power

As a community-owned utility, the PUD is part of a public power family that also includes electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. Learn some of the differences between community-owned and investor-owned utilities.

Public Power Week LogoColumbia River PUD is a People's Utility District, which is a type of special district, similar to a school district or a fire district.  The PUD is locally owned and operated.  Voters within the PUD's service territory select a five-member Board of Directors that sets rates and policies for the utility.

As a community-owned utility, the PUD is part of a public power family that also includes electric cooperatives and municipal utilities.  

Here are some of the differences between community-owned and investor-owned utilities.

Public Power Facts

  • The Northwest has about 120 publicly owned utilities, serving about half of the population.
  • There are three types of public power utilities: municipal systems, which are governed by the cities they serve; cooperatives, which are private, non-profit corporations governed by their members; and PUDs, special districts formed by a vote of the people they serve.
  • 9 of the 10 lowest cost utilities in Oregon are public utilities.
  • In Oregon, PUDs are governed by a five-member Board of Directors that is elected by the voters in the PUD's service area. The Board of Directors sets rates based upon the cost of providing service. The PUD's power supply is generally provided by BPA at rates that are less than any of Oregon's private utility rates. The PUD passes these lower rates on to customers. The Board is also responsible for hiring professional managers and staff to operate the utility.
  • The Board of Directors is elected to represent the local community, and holds regular meetings which are open to the public. PUD customers can also vote to authorize debt (bond sales) to finance the purchase or modification of the district's facilities.