(The following is an opinion piece written by outgoing Grant PUD Commissioner Bob Bernd)
As a retiring PUD commissioner, I have a personal interest in the outcome of this election: I don’t want to see the PUD go backwards from the progress we’ve made these past twelve years. Mr. Cox and Mrs. Wilson were chosen by a handful of very large irrigators who have injected over $80,000. into their campaigns. Why? They want complete control of the Board in order to keep the over 40 percent subsidy to their electric rates. There are currently three irrigators on our board of five who together could have overturned any policies now in place. They didn’t. These candidates election would guarantee that we continue the excessive subsidy for large irrigators. We other rate payers pay for that subsidy. Current policy would gradually move them up to the same as residential and small business rate payors at twenty percent below cost.
These two were never seen at a PUD meeting or function prior to their recruitment. They’ve made issues out of things that any close PUD observer could answer and they’ve failed to even seek answers. The 1.3-billion-dollar debt is their big campaign issue. This debt was obligated before any current commissioner, except Mr. Flint, took office. It was the result of requirements associated with our new license which was officially received in 2008 after over ten years of negotiation with the Federal Commission that grants licenses.
We could pay the debt sooner and not obligate new industry, business, and residents that will enjoy the benefits of our investment for the life of this contract and beyond. Paying this debt sooner would make current rates a lot higher. Our financial position is strong and well in line with industry standards as proven by our high credit bureau ratings. In fact, our credit rating has improved considerably these past few years.
The best qualified candidates are Terry Brewer and Patti Paris. Terry Brewer’s knowledge, experience and leadership skills are unmatched among PUD commissioners in Washington. He retired from a 30-year career with a large power company in Indiana. He was instrumental in bringing new business and industry to the county while Director of Grant’s Economic Development Council. When he meets with state and national representatives he is well known and respected. His peers in the industry have elected him to very strategic and responsible positions.
Patti Paris is a life-long county resident who retired as the CFO of a large ag-oriented business with over 500 employees. She was their main liaison with the PUD. She also worked at the PUD in leadership positions prior to leaving to become CFO of Columbia Colstor. She will represent all rate payors professionally, fairly and with integrity.
The PUD is a large and complex organization that needs commissioners who understand those complexities and have the background, training and dedication to represent ALL citizens, citizens who own the PUD. Join me in voting for Patti Paris and Terry Brewer.