Today’s the day for electrical power switch for East Jefferson County

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PORT TOWNSEND — The plan is that when East Jefferson County residents awaken today, they will have a new electrical power provider — and if all went well, none of the 19,000 customers will have noticed the change.

A process that began in 2008 was set to end at 12:01 a.m. today, quietly and with no fanfare, with the switch from Puget Sound Energy, which had served East Jefferson County for about a century, to the Jefferson County Public Utility District.

PUD Commissioner Wayne King planned to be at the operations building and yard at 310 Four Corners Road for the switch.

“I really want to be there,” King said Sunday morning.

“It’s a pretty big deal. It’s never been done before.”

Kevin Streett, PUD’s electrical superintendent, said last week that crews were ready for the changeover.

Until then, they were taking care of minutiae.

“It might sound a little boring, but right now we are making sure all the trucks are gassed up, all the tools there, and the locks are in order,” Streett said Friday.

“Everything is good to go, but the work begins after they throw the switch.”

At least 18 people have been hired for the electrical service, King said, emphasizing that the jobs are “good, living-wage jobs.”

King, who negotiated directly with PSE and served on the transition team, said he will “be thinking of my buddy, Dana Roberts,” a PUD commissioner and proponent of the county utility providing electrical service who died in November 2009 at the age of 74.

In 2008, voters granted the public agency, which already provided water and sewer service, the authority to also offer electrical service to East Jefferson County residents, and on Friday, closing documents for the sales were signed in Seattle.

The base price of the PSE infrastructure, $103 million, will be adjusted to cover improvements PSE has done over the past three years, PUD Commission President Barney Burke has said.

That adjustment is estimated to be about another $5 million.

The PUD is receiving a $115.7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with an interest rate of 2.728 percent, locked in for 28 years.

The transferred assets include 19,000 residential and meters, eight substations, 26.4 miles of 115 kilovolt transmission lines, 380 miles of overhead line, 353 miles of underground distribution lines and the Four Corners Road operations building and yard.

There will be no rate increase in the foreseeable future, Burke has said, and King even foresees the possibility of rate cuts.

Burke has said the rates won’t change or be addressed for at least a year, but King said Friday that a rate study could occur within six months.

The last bill customers received from PSE included service up to March 9.

The next bill will be issued by the PUD, which will reimburse PSE for the service it provided through the rest of March.

The PUD also will assume overdue PSE accounts, General Manager Jim Parker has said.

Account numbers, return addresses and appearance of the bills will change, according to both PSE and PUD.

The PSE office at 181 Quincy St., was closed last week.

Bills can be paid at the PUD office at 375 Chimacum Road in Port Hadlock.

PUD is taking over the PSE facility at 310 Four Corners Road and may eventually construct a new building that will allow all operations to be housed in one place, Parker said.

Last modified: March 31. 2013 6:12PM
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