In order to best provide electric and broadband service to the largest county in Washington, we have offices where you live and work in Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster and Twisp. Not only do we work in your areas, we live in your neighborhoods, have kids in your schools and attend your churches. We volunteer our time to raise funds for local organizations and work diligently to support local activities and businesses. Because the area in which we serve is also the area in which we live, doing the job timely and accurately is not simply good work practice, it is good people practice. It is the way we live.
We are committed to provide dependable, not-for-profit public utility services governed by, and for the benefit of, our customers in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Our service area includes all of Okanogan County (5,315 square miles), which is the largest county in the State of Washington. In addition, two electric co-ops and one municipal system also provide service in the county. We serve approximately 20,500 customers composed mainly of residential, commercial and irrigation accounts. Our electric system consists of approximately 1,373 miles of overhead and 437 miles of underground distribution lines. We also own a 115 kV transmission system, which consists of approximately 104 miles of line and 16 major substations. In addition, we provide wholesale, cost-based broadband service to retail service providers, who provide their service to the residents and businesses of Okanogan County. This system also serves the internal needs of the District for communications and SCADA.
Our main office is in the city of Okanogan, and we have additional offices in the towns of Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Brewster and Twisp. All our office information is available here.
Our major sources of power are hydro and wind. We have an 8% portion of the Wells Hydro Project, 24% of Nine Canyon Wind Farm (phases I & II) and we are a BPA Slice customer. The District is in the process of licensing the Enloe Dam Hydroelectric Project on the Similkameen River and is exploring other sources of power supply to cover future load growth and I-937 issues.
In 1936 the Washington State Legislature passed legislation authorizing formation of public utility districts. The debate then centered on local issues of public versus private power until 1939 when the voters approved forming their own public utility district. That action put in motion engineering studies, financing proposals, negotiations, and legal challenges with the existing power company, the Washington Water Power Company (WWP). This process consumed six years until May 11, 1945 when the Okanogan County PUD paid Washington Water Power $2,314,240.33 for the entire system in Okanogan County, including Enloe Dam and a transmission line from Chelan and began operating its own electric system.
In the past 40 years we have provided county residences and businesses with a low-cost, reliable source of electrical energy. Residential rates in 1946 were 1.6 cents per KWH (kilowatt-hour). That cost steadily decreased to a low of 0.94 cents per KWH in 1975. Today’s rates are still some of the lowest in the Northwest, the nation, and the world. You can view electric rates for various countries here.
In 2001 we began providing wholesale, cost-based broadband service to retail service providers, who provide their service to the residents and businesses of Okanogan County.
We have constructed an 82 mile fiber optic backbone from the Columbia River at Pateros to the Canadian border north of Oroville. In 2002, we began offering wholesale broadband services on wireless infrastructure. We planned our infrastructure to ultimately benefit all of our electrical customers.
The District’s electric system continues to steadily grow from 5,893 customers in 1945 to well over 20,000 customers today. Annual electric usage has also steadily increased from 3,255 KWH per residence in 1945 to 30,929 KWH today.
While the electrical requirements of the county increased, the number of employees employed by the PUD has also risen to nearly 100 full-time employees. The Board of Commissioners and our entire staff are dedicated to providing reliable electric service to Okanogan County. Efforts are continuing to acquire more low-cost power supplies and improve efficiencies within the electric system.
We are confident that we will continue to be a valuable asset to county residents by saving millions of dollars in power costs. The next 40 years will continue to provide us with opportunities with which we can continue to provide greater benefits to Okanogan County.