Bainbridge utility campaign topic of Port Townsend lunch

PORT TOWNSEND — Co-founders of a movement to give the city of Bainbridge Island the authority to establish a nonprofit electric utility will speak at Jefferson County Energy Lunch on Thursday.

Jane Lindley and Steve Johnson, co-founders of Island Power in the city of Bainbridge, will speak on “Assessing Local Energy Values: The Bainbridge Public Power Campaign” at 12:30 p.m. at the Port Townsend Yacht Club, 2503 Washington St.

They are campaigning for a measure that will be on the Bainbridge ballot in November.

“As was the case in Jefferson County in 2008, they are facing vigorous opposition from the current electric utility, Puget Sound Energy,” said Rick Van Auken, programming coordinator for Jefferson County Energy LLC.

In 2008, voters granted the Jefferson County Public Utility District — which already provided water and sewer service — the authority to offer electrical service to East Jefferson County residents.

The vote severed a relationship with PSE that spanned about 100 years.

The power switch was made in March 2013.

“Regular attendees of the Jefferson County Energy Lunch Program will understand that a broad energy transition is currently underway and public control of the local power grid is a big deal,” Van Auken said.

“Hearing the details of their current experience will convincingly demonstrate both the immense value of the power utility franchise and the vast opportunity attached to local control of the energy transition now underway,” he added.

Citizens for Local Power campaigned for the Jefferson County change during 2007 and 2008. With a budget of about $28,000, their campaign defeated PSE, which spent $250,000 in opposition, Van Auken said.

“In becoming the eighth new public power utility in the Pacific Northwest, Jefferson County Public Utility District represented our local desire for clean power, low rates, better service, and local jobs,” Van Auken said.

“Yet, the primary reason for the change from private to public power was — and is — local control over our energy future.”

Van Auken said that the presentation will cover such factors as the amount of fossil fuel used to create PSE electricity, the reliability and service provided by local public power, expected rate advantages of public power and expected economic and job benefits.

Participants in Energy Lunches, which are held the third Thursday of the month, are invited to bring their lunches and arrive at noon to join an informal conversation with local energy professionals. Programs are followed by question-and-answer sessions that typically wrap up at about 1:30 p.m. A workshop and panel discussion usually follows from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, see http://l2020.org/energy-lunch-programs/

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