Washington Public Facility Districts meet in Pasco, talk costs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington Public Facility Districts meet in Pasco, talk cutting costs

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PASCO, Wash -- More than 200 representatives from Washington's 27 Public Utility Districts are meeting in the Pasco for a three day conference at the Red Lion.  It's the WA PUD's 75th anniversary.

They provide electricity, water, sewer and telecommunications services to more than 1.7 million people in the state.

The main topics of discussion is keeping costs low for customers.    "We don't take any more money than we need to provide electricity to people. Obviously, our costs are going up a little bit with Bonneville, that's where we receive our power," says the President of the Washington PUD Association.

The administrator with Bonneville Power Administrator, Steve Wright says they have several priorities.  "We have committed to do three things.  Encourage the development of renewable resources, make sure we maintain reliability for all the customers across the region.  And also assure to an extent that our costs cause by wind on our system, are paid by those receiving the wind power,"says Wright.

But renewable power is expensive. Public Utility Districts with more than 25,000 customers must buy at least 3% of their power from a renewable source, and that doesn't include hydro.

"The challenge is to integrate those in a system to insure that when the wind isn't blowing, we still have the reserve of power necessary to make up that difference and that can be more costly," says George Caan, the Executive Director of the Washington PUD Association.

He says PUD's in areas like the Mid-Columbia region are frustrated with this rule because they have cheap nuclear power and hydro dams.  "There are a number of utilities that are looking at ways today to modify the Initiative 937, the energy independence act to see if there are ways to minimize the economic impact of the initiative during a recessionary climate.  It's tough, but we're trying, " says Caan.

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