Washington is a Public Power state. There are 28 operating PUDs; two non-operating. Twenty-three provide electric service; 14 of these also provide water or water and sewer service; five provide water or water and sewer service only.

PUD’s in Washington State are:

  • Community-owned and governed utilities that provide electricity, water, wholesale telecommunications and sewer service.
  • Governed by state law RCW 54
  • Total number of electricity customers served by PUDs: 831,660 (730,127 residential). For comparison, 1,280,974 (1,126,016 residential) customers are served by the state’s three investor-owned utilities; 587,674 (approximately 528,507 residential) by 19 municipal utilities; 142,433 (approximately 121,246 residential) by 16 cooperative and mutual utilities.
  • PUDs provide electricity service to 28 percent of Washington’s population. Publicly-owned PUDs and municipal utilities combined serve 49 percent of the state’s population, with co-ops and mutuals serving an additional 5 percent. Nationally, 14 percent of the population is served by public power utilities and 11 percent by cooperatives.
  • Approximately 26 percent of Bonneville Power Administration revenue comes from Washington PUD purchases. Collectively, PUDs are the largest customer of BPA.

Each PUD has:

  • board of elected commissioners who set policy for their PUD. Most boards have three commissioners; some have five. Commissioners are elected by the community served by the PUD, and serve six-year terms on a nonpartisan basis.
  • professional manager and staff who operate the PUD.
  • Open meetings, where members of the public can observe and participate in decisions made by the PUD board of commissioners.
  • Utility rates based on the cost of service. Because PUDs are nonprofit utilities owned by the public, not by stockholders, they are in business solely to provide service, not to make a profit from utility service.
  • commitment to conserving electricity and water. PUDs offer programs to help customers use energy and water efficiently. They support policies that promote resource conservation.
  • Community involvement. PUDs contribute to the communities they serve in a variety of ways, such as: sponsoring water and energy educational programs for students and adults; offering use of facilities for public meetings; supporting local economic development efforts; helping low-income citizens pay utility bills or weatherize their homes; paying taxes that support schools and communities.

How PUDs are different from Private Power

  • PUDs are governed by locally elected boards that meet and make decisions in open sessions; they are accountable to their customers
  • Private utilities are governed by boards that most often meet in closed sessions and are accountable to their shareholders
  • PUDs are non-profit entities operated for the benefit of their customers
  • Private utilities are for-profit entities operated for the financial benefit of large institutions and other stockholders
  • PUDs rates are based on the actual cost of providing service
  • Private utilities rates are based on the cost of service plus a margin for profit (return on equity) that is paid to stockholders.

To learn more about PUDs visit the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) website.