Purser announces fourth run for PUD seat

Candidate discusses rates, broadband, carbon neutral power

Will Purser

Will Purser

PORT ANGELES — Will Purser is running for a fourth six-year term on the Clallam County Public Utility District.

“I am running for re-election to ensure PUD customers continue to receive affordable and reliable power in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said in a press release.

Purser, president of the PUD board, was appointed to District 1 seat in 2001 and subsequently elected each term, beginning in 2004.

He filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission on May 2.

Former Sequim mayor Ken Hays is challenging him in the Nov. 8 election.

Candidate filing week begins Monday.

A top-two primary is set for Aug. 2.

If three or more file for a position, then the primary will eliminate one before the general election.

“During the entirety of my tenure, the PUD has maintained a positive trajectory of improvement with numerous nationally recognized awards, including three consecutive American Public Power Association Reliable Public Power awards as well as designation as a smart energy provider,” Purser said in a press release.

Rates are among the lowest in the nation, he said.

“The Northwest has lowest rates in the country. We’re paying 8 cents per kilowatt hour. People in California are paying 25 cents a kilowatt hour,” Purser said.

Almost 20 years ago, the PUD began constructing a broadband link between substations, Purser said, adding that this link is also being used to provide wholesale communications to any requesting internet service provider (ISP).

Much of the broadband service on the North Olympic Peninsula includes some portion of PUD fiber or RF (radio frequency) broadband, he said.

“With the recent availability of state and federal grants, the PUD has joined with regional efforts, local interagency committees, ISPs, municipal entities, tribes and even BPA to collaborate in how to provide broadband to underserved areas in an affordable and sustainable manner,” Purser said.

The PUD is working closely with Clallam County and Wave Cable in support of the state Highway 112 broadband initiative, and is currently working with an ISP on a project to provide broadband to the Lake Dawn area, Purser said.

“Clallam is also serving as leader in a broadband project effort to link Port Angeles to Sappho and beyond to the existing fiber network in the Forks area,” Purser said.

Purser said that during his tenure the district has rebuilt and modernized 19 of 21 substations that allowed the district to monitor them from a maintenance center.

Future challenges include removing carbon from the regional power supply as well as electrification of the transportation sector and reducing the energy burden or cost to low-income customers.

Clallam PUD “is one of a very few national electric utilities to have already achieved a carbon neutral power supply, as well as the state mandate to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030,” Purser said.

Most of the PUD’s energy comes from hydroelectric sources, he said.

“We are fortunate to receive more than 98 percent of our power under contract from BPA consisting of almost entirely a zero carbon supply from the Northwest Federal Hydro system at a cost well under current market rates or other renewable options available,” Purser said.

“The PUD also has established a robust program in support of customer-owned net meter solar, wind and hydro that currently includes more than 400 interconnections providing a zero carbon supply locally,” he added.

The PUD continually collaborates with national laboratories, American Public Power Association and Energy Northwest in support of research and development associated with the potential of economical distribution batteries, demand response, solar and tidal generation and a developing green hydrogen economy, Purser said.

“A current Energy Northwest and PUD collaboration supported by state grants is to ensure U.S. Highway 101 has sufficient high-capacity charging stations to support vehicle electrification,” he said.

“One of the most important near-term challenges of the PUD board is to ensure the PUD’s success when entering a 2028 contract with BPA to ensure a continued supply of low-cost zero carbon power supply,” he said.

“The PUD and its governing board is working and collaborating with almost 130 other public power utilities through various associations to ensure a contract in the best interest of ratepayers,” Purser added, saying that the contract from BPA will not be seen until next year.

Purser is chairman of the Governance Board of Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency of over 25 PUDs.

He previously served on the Public Power Council executive committee and the WA PUD Association Energy committee.

“All of these provide leverage for Clallam PUD influence over Northwest power issues that benefit customers with affordable reliable power,” Purser said.

”The electric industry is currently undergoing a rapid transformation and needs knowledgeable and experienced governance to successfully navigate the many challenges and ensure the PUD continues to provide affordable and reliable power in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Purser’s campaign website is at https://willpurserforpud.com/.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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