PUD in the Community

We are a team of nearly 100 individuals whose mission is to provide the folks of Okanogan County with reliable, on-demand electricity and broadband.  Not only do we focus on our jobs and the mission of the PUD, we do much more. We have a positive influence in the communities of Okanogan County in many ways, some of which you may not have heard of.

We occasionally highlight some of these stories here. You may also read all our news stories by clicking on the NEWS tab.

Pud with a group of kids
  PUD participated in Safety Day, 2015 at North Elementary School

Recent PUD in the Community News

October 4-10, 2015 is Public Power Week, a time when communities across the U.S. celebrate the advantages of public power. More than 2,000 cities and towns light up their homes, businesses and streets with public power.

Through locally elected officials, Commissioner Steve Houston, Commissioner Ernie Bolz and Commissioner Scott Vejraska, Okanogan PUD ratepayers have a say in how the utility is run as Okanogan PUD is consumer owned.  The Board of Commissioners and the entire staff of Okanogan PUD are dedicated to providing reliable electric service within our service area. Knowing the community and its needs helps keep homes, businesses, and public places powered year-round while maintaining some of the lowest rates in Washington State.

Okanogan PUD serves approximately 15,500 customers composed mainly of residential, commercial and irrigation accounts. The electric system consists of 1,373 miles of overhead and 437 miles of underground distribution lines. Okanogan PUD also owns a 115 kV transmission system, which consists of 104 miles of line and 16 substations. In addition, 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.

As we celebrate Public Power Week, rate payers can be certain that Okanogan PUD will continue to provide safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and competitively priced electricity and services for many years to come.

During Public Power Week, we will be offering free to ratepayers the opportunity to choose an energy saving surge protector or a box that includes two (2) energy efficient shower heads and two (2) LED 25,000 hour light bulbs. These energy saving devices are available all week at a local Okanogan PUD branch office.

Please join the Okanogan PUD this Saturday, October 3, 2015 in the main PUD parking lot in Okanogan, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm to kick off Public Power Week. Public Power Week is a time when communities across the U.S. celebrate the advantages of public power. More than 2,000 cities and towns light up their homes, businesses and streets with public power.

During this kick-off event, light refreshments will be available and the opportunity for Okanogan PUD customers to choose an energy saving smart surge protector or a box set that includes two (2) energy efficient shower heads and two (2) LED 25,000 hour light bulbs. If you are unable to attend the kick off event, these energy saving devices are available all week at a local Okanogan PUD branch office.   

Public Power Week Kick Off Event 

Employees and Customers at Public Power Week Kick Off event photo
Employees and Customers at Public Power Week Kick Off event photo 2

Broadband has brought many benefits to foreign exchange students who reside in Okanogan County.  Mary Pat Villalva, an Area Supervisor for many of these students, knows how important it is to their overall experience in the U.S. "Skyping is a wonderful form of communication for these students. Most exchange students use this on a regular basis. Whole families often Skype each other and are able to share their experiences together. This gives families and students assurance that all is going well. They are able to see each other face to face. It is a wonderful way to communicate overseas."

Students and families also regularly use Email and Facebook. Students communicate with their friends back home, and their friends that have been placed across the United States. This communication is crucial to students here-- It provides great support to students going through new experiences.

Students can send or post pictures of their travels and experiences in the United States, and families overseas can share in these experiences immediately.
Foreign exchange students also use the Internet on a regular basis. Many use the Internet to help them learn English. The internet can also assist them when trying to learn new subjects like American History. It's a great tool to help them translate new information and words.

Ms. Villalva summarized how important broadband access has been to the foreign exchange student program by saying "All and all, Broadband is a key factor in promoting good relations between Americans and foreign students. It helps us to educate and raise kids together. I am happy it is being utilized in our county.
Thank you, PUD!"

T Lewis, the illustrator and cartoonist behind the animated movie "Over the Hedge", moved from Houston to Omak in the 90's, when the Internet was in it's infancy. He and his wife Phylicia, who grew up in Omak, were starting a family, and decided that the lifestyle in Okanogan County suited them better than living in Houston (his hometown). 

T says, "I really freaked out before moving to Omak, because I would lose my connections to my agent and my clients. This was before the Internet was user friendly. But then Windows 95 came along, with built in support for dial-up Internet. I was off and running with dial-up. Nobody dreamed of how commonplace broadband would be someday."

T Lewis at work photo
T Lewis at work.

​After settling in Omak, T continued working for Disney Studios drawing the "Mickey Mouse" comic strip, and illustrated numerous children's books, including "Peter Pan". He also continued working with his writing partner, Mike Fry, who lived in Houston, developing a cartoon strip they originally called "The Secret Life of Pigs" (SLOP for short). This concept eventually evolved into "Over the Hedge", which became a syndicated comic strip, and eventually an animated movie. 

During this time, he depended on dial-up service and FedEx overnight delivery to send his finished products to his publishers. "I was racing up to the Omak Airport every Thursday to send my 'Over the Hedge' finals to the publisher. I got to know the FedEx pilots pretty well."

In 2002, when the PUD began deploying it's wireless network, T became one of the first customers on their new wireless pilot project. T recalls that "Where broadband came in and made my life really wonderful was when the movie version of 'Over the Hedge' started happening. The timing was perfect." Dreamworks Studios had purchased the movie rights and had begun working on an animated movie version of the cartoon strip. T was a creative consultant with Dreamworks during this time, and "There was a lot of back and forth of information, like graphics, and eventually video clips".

T working in studio photo
T working in his one of his "studios"- a touch-screen laptop at the kitchen table.

Today, T sends all his artwork over broadband. The weekly "Over the Hedge" comic strip he once drew on paper now exists only as a digital file on his laptop, until he sends it and it is printed in newspapers. He continues to do other work, including doing illustrations for Baylor College of Medicine publications. He has recently begun testing the possibility of teaching an art class with students in Mongolia over Skype.


T working in other studio photo

T working in his "other studio"- the walnut orchard at their ranch.
Now this is Mobile-Tech! 












You can read more about T Lewis at http://lambiek.net/artists/l/lewis_t.htm