Voters will be deciding two Snohomish County Public Utilities District Board of Commissioner races during the Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 general election. You can see our overview story on that race, as well as District 1 commissioner candidates’ responses in this article.
Here are the summaries for District 2 candidates — South County Fire and Rescue Commissioner and business consultant David Chan of Everett, and educator and environmentalist Rebecca Wolfe from Edmonds.
Chan’s name may be familiar to some from a March 2017 controversy, when he was accused of making racist statements during a break in a fire commissioners’ board meeting. See related story. Wolfe has long been active in the Sierra Club and other environmental causes.
What are your qualifications?
As a business consultant, I assist organizations to improve efficiently and achieve greater profit. I was recruited by a group of people who want me to change PUD as what I have done for Fire District 1 (now South County Fire and Rescue). They sent me investigation reports of scandals and budget overrun on various projects. Projects were started and abandoned after millions of dollars were wasted without a good budget and mile stone control system. I just want to resolve all these problems and not to fulfill any personal ambitions.
Why are you running for office?
PUD is a $ 660-plus million organization with very complex business and financial issues. A good commissioner must has the aptitude to learn and understand financial data regarding cost structures of various energy sources. I have the business and public board oversight experience. I will set up a budget control system and hold the management accountable. I am concern the other candidates just focus on just environmental issue without any balance. This will destabilize the rates and cause our utility bills increase. We must have a long term stable financial plan. We can march towards renewable energy with balance and steady hands. I think this is the plan majority pubic like and support.
What is the current PUD doing well?
The current PUD sources of energy from:
80 percent – Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) – Based on longer term arrangement and contracts renewable in 2028.
11 percent – Northwest Energy that PUD is a member. The contract will end in 2043.
8 percent – Renewable energy from various vendors. By regulation, PUD is obligated to purchase whatever the vendors can generated.
1 percent – Miscellaneous
BPA provides a very steady energy supply with reasonable rate. I believe that with the continue improve with new technology, the costs of renewable energy will drop and the vendors will able to produce more renewable energy with more reasonable costs. We must constantly monitor our contracts to ensure our supply can meet our demands with a good balance.
What hot-button issues under the PUD’s jurisdiction are important to you? What is the current PUD doing well? If elected, what will you change?
- Current Excess Capacity – Because of the result of good program conservation, PUD’s forecast a flat demand of energy. The PUD revenues reduction can have possibly negative financial impact to the bottom line. However, with the continue population and growth of Snohomish County, we still need a long-term plan to research for more energy.
Solution – In the area of financial impact, PUD needs to review cost structure especially on the overhead costs. PUD may want to search for various federal or state grand to promote electrify cars and buses to use up the excess energy capacity.
If elected, what will you change?
PUD must establish a long-term financial plan and tight cost control on operations and projects. Please refer to my candidate statement more details with key points of:
- Ratepayer first
- Stop no-bid scandals
- Compliance with environmental law
- Safe work place
- Protection of seniors and low-income residents
I am attaching my résumé as an efficient way to provide you with my qualifications, background, and experience. In addition, I have had successful experience as a school administrator with responsibility for financial management. Furthermore, I’ve worked on watershed restoration in the Skokomish Valley; blocking five new water bottling plants in WA State; helping prevent a new, low-power hydroelectric project on the Skykomish River at Sunset Falls; and helping get the 2006 initiative, I-937, on the ballot and passed in 2007 as the WA Energy Independence Act
Why are you running for office, and why this position in particular? How will being elected to this role help you fulfill personal ambitions?
I challenged the 24-year incumbent, Commissioner Kathy Vaughn, because I became aware of many irregularities in several of the PUD projects. Many millions of ratepayers’ dollars have been lost during the tenure of Ms. Vaughn. The commission has made decisions that are antithetical to a legitimate government. Very few positions can influence climate policy as directly as a commission on an energy utility. Only legislators or top-level executives in government are likely to have more influence. As a commissioner I would be able to have greater access to information held by employees — information that is difficult to obtain unless one is a part of the PUD. With fuller, more accurate information, I would be able to provide leadership in the PUD and in the territory served by the PUD. I want to help bring more citizen engagement to the organization. With greater opportunity to participate in power planning and other critical activities related to stemming global warming, I would be better able to help protect the environment for future generations. My personal ambition is to work for good governance so that the PUD can operate more ethically and responsibly.
What hot-button issues under the PUD’s jurisdiction are important to you?
I want to find out more about the leaking Vanadium energy storage batteries that are located near downtown Everett. Another issue that is important to me is the determination of expenditures by the PUD on their various new energy projects. The PUD has been quite vague about the totals of the costs of their projects, so I would like to get some straight answers on these questions.
What is the current PUD doing well? If elected, what will you change?
Currently the PUD is making significant progress on safety for employees. One activity that promotes serious attention to reducing injuries is the Linemen’s Rodeo. SnoPUD’s team did very well in 2018 and they are preparing to compete again in 2019. I would enthusiastically support the Linemen’s Rodeo program. If elected, I would make an all-out effort to find ways to restore incentives for new solar power customers. Many people installed solar panels on their homes or businesses several years ago. The incentives for new solar are no longer available. With millions of dollars spent on new, low-power dams, it appears that SnoPUD has a considerable amount of money to invest in new solar. I’d like to help find funding for new solar and for much more energy efficiency.
What concerns and questions have PUD constituents and stakeholders been sharing with you?
They are very upset about changes in the monthly billing system and would much prefer the previous way to being billed. The solar power ratepayers are upset about the decrease in incentives for new solar and they are confused about the changes in how their payments will be handled.
If particular groups or organizations support your candidacy, please share who they are and why they support you.
Supporting my candidacy are a number of organizations and individuals. Most are listed on my website at www.wolfeforgoodenergyPUD.com under the heading, Endorsements. I believe that they support me because of my long record of public service on protection of democratic principles, e.g. Move to Amend, GMO Labeling Bill, and others; as well as protection of our natural resources, e.g., Save Our Edmonds Marsh, Edmonds Tree Board, Skokomish Watershed Action Team; Save the Skykomish; Initiative 937 in 2006-7; efforts to stop clearcut logging on DNR land near Wallace Falls State Park; organizing communities against water bottling plants, and other community service. I believe that I am highly respected and trusted. In all spheres of government, people want to elect leaders who will honor and fulfill their Public Trust duty.