Few hitches in Jefferson County energy switch

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — When ownership of the electric utility for East Jefferson County transferred from Puget Sound Energy to the Jefferson County Public Utility District early Monday morning, PUD Commissioner Wayne King was thinking about Dana Roberts, the former commissioner who spearheaded the purchase.

“He was into the power business long before any of us, and he saw the benefit that this purchase would bring,” King recalled.

Roberts died at age 74 in 2009, a year after East Jefferson voters approved the purchase of the utility but before the hard work began.

Recent events evoked Roberts' memory for King, who will introduce a resolution at a meeting today to name the Kearney Street Substation after his friend and fellow commissioner.

The meeting is at 5 p.m. at the PUD offices, 230 Chimacum Road in Port Hadlock.

“He used to jog by there every day and would really appreciate this tribute,” King said of Roberts.

“And he would have been tickled to death when we put up the signs.”

King, along with other PUD staff, family and friends, was at the new PUD headquarters when the power was switched at one minute past midnight Monday.

The sign outside the facility was changed from PSE to PUD minutes after midnight.

Attending along with King were Manager Jim Parker and Commissioner Barney Burke, who succeeded Roberts on the PUD board.

Both said earlier that they planned to stay home during the changeover, but changed their minds.

Electricity customers now must travel to 310 Four Corners Road for in-person customer service.

PSE's service office was in Port Townsend.

On Tuesdway morning, PUD customer service was supplied by Tami Robocker and Lisa Keller, who fielded several questions about billing, rates and any expected service changes.

There were several calls as to whether rates will increase. Customers were told that the bills will stay the same for now.

Administrative assistant Bob Phillips said the transition was going smoothly, although a few “little things” required staff attention.

One was the automatic gate outside the new facility, which would not open from the outside.w

To gain access customers needed to call inside, at which time someone would pull a car into an inside area to fool the electric eye that would then open the gate.

After calling a PSE security worker, the gate was repaired and access was granted.

Generally on Monday, Parker said, the transition went smoothly.

The main task, he added, was the changeover of meters from PSE to PUD.

King said he felt a sense of relief after the switch­over.

“It was great seeing our sign out there,” he said.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 01. 2013 6:23PM
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