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Letter: Form a utility district

John Dunzer writes about forming a People’s Utility District

Published on July 10, 2017 10:21AM

Forty-five years ago, no one even knew the Cascadia Subduction zone off the coast of Oregon existed. Now the odds of a big Cascadia earthquake and tsunami in the next 50 years are roughly one in three. The north coast of Oregon has been told that they can expect to be without electrical power for six months. Evacuation planning has shown that the vast majority of the northern Oregon coast residents and visitors will survive a Cascadia event. North coast residents are planning on developing a new electrical generation capability, the Cascadia People’s Utility District, which will mitigate long-term loss of power to the area.

Pacific Power services coastal Clatsop County and was approached about building a new renewable power facility above the tsunami inundation zone. To comply with State mandates for more renewable power to replace its coal-fueled electrical generation, Pacific Power decided to center its renewable power generation program on building wind farms in Wyoming. While the addition of renewable power projects are good, a project in Wyoming does nothing to mitigate the north coast’s potential six-month loss of electrical power. After some investigating, all areas surrounding Clatsop County have electrical service provided by locally owned and controlled, non-profit People’s Utility Districts (PUD).

The formation of a PUD is a legal right, which is guaranteed under existing State law. To form a PUD, there must be a majority vote of the voters in the proposed PUD service area. PUD formation can be complicated and expensive, but it is not the case for north coast Clatsop County. The existing electrical system for the area is a completely independent system with Bonneville Power being provided at an existing substation located in the Lewis and Clark area with transmission lines to Warrenton, Gearhart, Seaside and Cannon Beach substations.

The biggest opportunity for north Clatsop County consumers would be to choose to build an independent source of renewable power for the area, so if damage to the Bonneville transmission lines threatens a six-month outage, we will have our own system in place. We don’t need Pacific Power’s permission — we can do it ourselves, and that’s why Cascadia PUD needs to be formed. It costs you nothing and provides a future for the area. For more information about this process, contact me at 949-566-8664, or

John Dunzer



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