The Mission of the Oregon People’s Utility District Association is to influence state legislation and regulation to benefit the customer-owners of Oregon people’s utility districts, and provide focus on related interests of its member PUDs.
History of OPUDA
The Oregon People’s Utility District Association (OPUDA) grew out of an informal organization formed in 1982. The association became an active, full-time non-profit association in 1984.
In 1982 the membership of the OPUDA consisted of four operating PUDs in Oregon: Central Lincoln PUD, Clatskanie PUD, Northern Wasco County PUD and Tillamook PUD. In 1984, Emerald PUD and Columbia River PUD became operational and joined the association. Two water PUDs became operational and are also association members.
The purpose of the association was to provide a forum for the member districts to discuss national, regional, state and local issues of common concern and to formulate positions on those issues.
History of PUDs in Oregon
In the late 1920s, some residents of Oregon had access to electricity and some didn’t. Investor-owned utility would not extend service to rural areas.
In 1930, thanks to the efforts of farmers, Granges, and rural customers, the voters of Oregon passed a measure allowing the formation of publicly owned and operated utilities. In 1931, the Oregon Legislature implemented it with the adoption of ORS 261.
With the advent of the Bonneville Power Administration in 1937, the people had a viable alternative to the existing power companies, and in the 1940s, four People’s Utility Districts were formed in Oregon: Central Lincoln PUD, Clatskanie PUD, Northern Wasco County PUD and Tillamook PUD. Two more were formed in the 1980s (Columbia River PUD and Emerald PUD) in response to increasingly high electricity rates from the existing investor-owned utilities.
The advantages of public ownership of utilities are obvious. PUDs have consistently offered electricity at rates that are substantially lower than investor-owned utilities. Having a locally-elected Board of Directors makes PUDs more responsive to local needs. And the assets that grow with the utility stay in the local community.