PUDs in Oregon
What is a PUD?
- A People’s Utility District, or PUD, is a body of local government that provides essential utility services within a specified area.
- PUDs are granted authority by the Oregon Constitution, Article XI, Section 12, and further defined by Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 261.
- PUDs are formed by a vote of the people who live within the District, and are directed, managed and operated locally.
- PUDs may generate some or all of the electricity they sell, or purchase it from other sources.
- Central Lincoln People’s Utility District – Headquartered in Newport. Operational in 1943.
- Clatskanie People’s Utility District – Headquartered in Clatskanie. Operational in 1943.
- Columbia River People’s Utility District – Headquartered in St. Helens. Operational in 1984.
- Emerald People’s Utility District – Headquartered in Eugene. Operational in 1983.
- Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District – Headquartered in The Dalles. Operational in 1949.
- Tillamook People’s Utility District – Headquartered in Tillamook. Operational in 1947.
In the early 1930s, only some Oregon residents had access to electricity. Many electric companies weren’t interested in building facilities to serve rural customers.
The people of the State of Oregon passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the formation of People’s Utility Districts to give residents local control over the provision of electricity and other essential utility services.
PUDs Benefit the Communities They Serve
Community Ownership Means Local Control
PUDs are owned and operated by the people they serve. Each PUD is governed by a five-member Board of Directors, elected by the voters within the PUD’s political boundary. The Board sets rates and policies for the PUD, with the goal of providing the most benefit to customers. PUD Boards hold regular local meetings which are open to the public.
Cost-Based Rates Are Often Lower
PUD rates are based on the actual cost of providing service. PUD rates are often lower than rates charged by investor-owned utilities, who must charge more to provide stockholder profits.
PUDs Have Access to Low-Cost Hydropower
PUDs may generate some or all of the electricity they sell, or they may purchase it. In Oregon, PUDs have first right, or “preference,” to the power generated by the Federal Columbia River Hydropower System, which is marketed and transmitted by the Bonneville Power Administration. Traditionally, Oregon PUDs have received most of their power from this source.
PUDs Pay Taxes and Franchise Fees to the Communities they Serve
Statewide, Oregon PUDs pay millions of dollars annually in property taxes and franchise fees to the communities they serve.
PUDs Provide Expert Customer Support
PUDs tailor their services to meet the needs of the communities they serve. They offer a wide array of programs for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. These programs include income-qualified energy assistance, weatherization, lighting efficiency, energy audits, conservation, and much more.
PUDs Are Strong Community Supporters
As members of the communities they serve, PUDs have a vested interest in supporting community goals and events. PUDs participate in local chambers of commerce and service organizations, offer educational opportunities to local schools and provide information, training and other services to cities, counties, police and fire departments.
PUDs also participate in home shows, home builder training seminars and other programs to promote the wise use of electricity.
PUDs Enact Innovative Energy Solutions
PUDs in Oregon lead the way to tomorrow’s energy solutions. Here are just a few examples:
- Emerald PUD’s Short Mountain Landfill Generation Project turns methane gas into electricity, serving 1,300 homes.
- Tillamook PUD helped launch a program to turn cow manure, a serious pollutant in the area, into electricity and fertilizer products.
- Clatskanie PUD partnered with their local mill in a cogeneration project that now produces enough energy to supply about 15,000 homes.
For More Information
To learn more about PUDs in Oregon, contact:
The Oregon PUD Association
727 Center Street NE, Suite 109
Salem, OR 97301
Telephone: (503) 370-4413
Fax: (503) 397-4451