Jefferson County PUD votes to buy PSE facilities, go into power business

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — The Jefferson County Public Utility District will buy the Puget Sound Energy’s electrical system and go into business providing power to customers.

The commissioners unanimously approved today a non-binding letter of intent to buy PSE’s infrastructure in East Jefferson County for $103 million.

The PUD commissioners, after a 50 minute closed executive session with their attorneys, announced their plans to begin operating within three years the East Jefferson County system that PSE has owned for about 100 years.

The letter of intent outlines the basic terms of the agreement, another step in the process, with much work remaining — an estimated 18- to 36-month transition to public power.

PUD Commissioner Wayne King, who represented PUD in negotiating an initial agreement with PSE, said it was better not to enter into potentially costly court condemnation proceedings and Karl Karzmar, who facilitated the talks on behalf of PSE, agreed.

“We had hoped we could sit down and talk about this over a cup of coffee,” King said before the commissioners voted 3-0 to proceed.

King, Commissioners Ken McMillen and appointed Commissioner Barney Burke agreed that was the best way to approach getting into the power business.

In agreeing to work with PUD, PSE’s Karzmar said, “We were being respectful of the vote of the people.”

He said working together would lead to a smooth “hand-off” from PSE service to PUD service.

Karzmar vowed that PSE would continue with all the services it now offers until that happens.

Jefferson County voters in a November 2008 election granted PUD the authority to get into the electrical business, which could include the option of acquiring PSE’s power system that serves more than 18,000 East County customers.

The next step will be a 5 p.m. Wednesday meeting in the Chimacum Grange, 9572 Rhody Drive, Chimacum, where commissioners will deliver more detailed information.

PUD commissioner meetings normally take place in their much smaller conference room at the PUD offices in Port Hadlock.
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Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 03. 2010 7:31PM
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