To the editor:
Puget Sound Energy’s Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission report shows its power outages in Kitsap are the worst of any county it serves.
Puget Sound Energy’s poor reliability in Kitsap County is a major factor to consider as Bainbridge citizens study the feasibility of establishing a public power utility.
PSE has not revealed its data about power outages on Bainbridge Island, despite many requests from Bainbridge ratepayers. But PSE’s required report to the state utility regulator shows that its electric service in Kitsap County as a whole is the most unreliable of any of the eight counties that it serves and it is getting worse. PSE’s March 2016 “Service Quality and Electric Service Reliability Report” shows that PSE’s customers in Kitsap suffered an average of over five hours of outages in 2013, over 10 hours in 2014, and nearly 30 hours in 2015. (You can download that report at www.island-power.org/faq/reliability.) Our family’s power on Bainbridge Island has been out for over 48 hours so far in 2016.
By contrast, nearby public power utilities like Seattle City Light, Port Angeles Electric, Peninsula Light (Gig Harbor) and Snohomish PUD are far more reliable. Snohomish PUD, which serves a rural, forested territory like Bainbridge, has less than half the number of outages and one fourth the average outage duration of those endured by PSE’s customers in Kitsap like us on Bainbridge.
Why would public power on Bainbridge be more reliable than from a private, for-profit utility like PSE? Because we’d have power crews based here on the island, ready to fix problems, instead of having to compete with the rest of Kitsap for crews based in Poulsbo during storms like we do now. What’s more, we could choose to invest in long-term upgrades like smart grid technology and putting more electric wires underground, which would greatly improve power reliability.
Clearly, PSE’s increasing rates here (an 11 percent increase this year) are not delivering more reliable power in Kitsap County and on Bainbridge Island. It’s well past time for Bainbridge to join over 60 public power utilities that reliably deliver electric power to the majority of people in Washington state.