Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) is a public power utility. That means we are not-for-profit, and exist only to provide reliable electric service at reasonable rates. Public power systems belong to the people they serve. In our community, the owners and users of our electric utility are the same. That means that your goals are also ours. There are no dividends to pay out-of-state stockholders, and all the benefits of our locally controlled electric utility remain here in this community.
Benefits of Public Power
- Greater reliability, reduced outages
- Quick response from local crews
- More money stays in the community
- Lower rates attract and keep business in the area
- Property taxes and city franchise fees stay local
- Access to tax-exempt financing for capital projects
- Local control over conservation, low-income programs, etc.
- Responsive to customers – each customer is an owner
- Service shaped by long-term community goals
- Local management adds to community leadership, innovation, and development
Public Power Fast Facts
- More than 45 million Americans are now served by public power – that is almost 15% of all consumers
- There are more than 2,000 public power systems in the U.S., in every state but Hawaii
- Some of the nation’s largest cities – Los Angeles, San Antonio, Seattle, and Orlando – operate public power electric utilities
- Private power customers pay an average of 14% more than public power customers
- Public power pays about 5% of its electric operating revenues to its cities and states, which is 19% higher than revenues and fees paid by private power companies
*Facts Sourced From American Public Power Association
EPUD currently purchases most of its electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). This power comes from a mixture of sources, including federal dams on the Columbia River (60 to 75%), the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant (10%), and import purchases and exchanges (15 to 30%). We also generate approximately 3% of our own electricity from the Short Mountain Methane Power Plant. Visit our Short Mountain Landfill Gas page to learn more. At this time, Short Mountain generates enough electricity to power 1,500 homes by burning the methane released from the decomposition of garbage at the landfill.
For those customers who want to invest in renewable energy development, we offer the option to purchase the equivalent of either 50% or 100% of the energy they consume in Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from green energy sources. View our Renewable Energy Program page to learn more or to sign up. EPUD purchases an average of 5 megawatts (MW) of green energy, enough to supply 3,000 homes.
New BPA Product Slice
A change occurring for EPUD in October 2011 involves the move to a new power purchase contract with BPA. This new contract is known as a “Slice of the System” (Slice) agreement, whereby half of EPUD’s low-cost “Tier 1” power supply is tied to a fixed percentage of the actual federal system output. This is different from the way BPA has historically provided power to EPUD. Throughout our history, BPA has met all of our hourly load needs regardless of how much we were demanding and when we were demanding it.
Going forward under Slice, EPUD will now be responsible for handling hourly gaps between our load and the resources we have available. This additional flexibility and local control should allow us to better integrate conservation and other renewable resources. This aspect of the product was attractive to the EPUD Citizen’s Advisory Committee that recommended it a number of years ago. However, the Slice contract can also present a risk if we are forced to buy power on the open market during times of high prices. In preparation for this, EPUD staff has been working over the past year to put proper risk management policies and procedures in place, similar to those used at other Northwest public utilities operating under Slice. Other Slice customers include EWEB, Benton County PUD, Franklin County PUD, Clark Public Utilities, Klickitat PUD, and Tacoma Power.
For more information on Slice, read “A Slice Story” (PDF).