Dan working on Electric and Telecom work at Winslow Way.

There are many areas in which I believe that Jefferson Public Utility District #1 can focus on starting immediately:

Communications and community outreach need to be addressed.  Commissioners should increase their public exposure by attending more community organization gatherings.  PUD communication through the press and online should give more information regarding short range planning.

Internal policies, procedures and measuring metrics need to be evaluated or created.  Strong leadership starts with well-defined goals, precise guidelines to achieve objectives and a system for measuring success or failure.  When everyone involved knows what is expected of them and have the tools to achieve benchmarks, internal communications and continuity can be improved.

Well-defined short term (four years or less) and long-term (four to ten-year(s)) goals are critical to fixing budgets, keeping rates low and maintaining a high quality of service and reliability.  The price and availability of water and energy will fluctuate due to markets, climate and growth as we move forward.  JPUD #1 must be proactive in identifying those trends accurately and honestly.  Clarifying what capital improvements are needed is a priority.

I believe the PUD has a larger role to play in emergency preparedness within the County and the region.  JPUD should do a better job of promoting its current participation with other County entities in emergency preparedness and disaster planning.  Examining its contingency plans if there is a disruption of power and water service should also be evaluated.

Systems Redundancy needs to be an area that gets more evaluation and discussion.  Determining problem geographic areas and expanding the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system are first steps.  A comprehensive plan to deal with above ground or below ground communications and power installation must be cross-referenced with our capital improvements and construction by other entities within our right-of- way’s, easements or service area.

JPUD should make every effort to assist in economic development within our service area.  This could be possible through encouraging and facilitating Local Utility Districts (LUD), Fiberhoods to assist ISP broadband service, improving conservation education and expanding rebate options to name a few.  More thought and research should be encouraged to see if JPUD can play a non-monetary role in completing the Olympic Discovery Trail.

I support efforts to make the PUD become more self-dependent over time as BPA may not always be our best option or sole source of energy.  Any steps we take should be well thought out as well as operationally prudent and economically sound.

Low income/disabled assistance is necessary for our less fortunate neighbors.  Communication with the public about how to set and administer those policies coupled with conservation, rebates and working with other organizations need to be emphasized to reduce any financial impact on the PUD.

Lawsuits and litigation are always going to be part of doing business in today's culture.  Our goal should always be guided by the law that PUD’s are governed by.  We should make sure that due diligence is always taken, and we listen to all those who voice concerns about any issue or problem before the PUD.  Marginalizing, minimizing or otherwise disregarding public or business input is never helpful in avoiding conflict. 

Rebuttal Response to Mr. Brotherton

From: Dan Toepper, Candidate for PUD Commissioner

I have been attending PUD meetings, hearings, and workshops for nearly five (5) years.  I also served for two (2) plus years, on the PUD Citizens Advisory Board (CAB).  In my professional career over the past 28 years, I have worked on environmental clean-up, habitat restoration, and infrastructure installation, that includes water, power, sewer, stormwater drainage systems and retention ponds, landfill liner and leachate systems repair and telecom. 
My opponent in the Jefferson PUD No. 1 Commissioner race, sent out a county-wide email through a political party electronic contact list and on his website.  I feel compelled to offer-up rebuttal to a large portion of everything he had to say.

The PUD currently has a Strategic Plan and its needs updating.  Tom Brotherton was nowhere to be seen at PUD hearings, meetings or workshops until a little over a year ago.  If he had attended any of these hearings, meetings or workshops, he would know there is an existing Strategic Plan.  Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) came to JPUD No. 1 and held training on how to organize your strategic plan.  I know this because I participated in the workshop.  

He talks about the PUD becoming involved with high-speed rural broadband and internet.  I would love for the PUD to be able to supply its customers with high-speed rural internet broadband.  The reality is, the PUD does not have rural broadband customers, because by law the PUD cannot offer retail internet.  If we tried to do that at present, we would end up in litigation and most likely be successfully sued by internet service providers (ISPs).  If you would like more information about the PUD possibly becoming involved in telecom, I would advise you to listen to the NoaNet presentation audio recording for August 30, 2018, that is found on the JPUD website under Special Meetings.  Don’t be deterred—please listen to it in its entirety.  

Regarding PUD fiscal health and financial future, I have been advocating for a new Chief Financial Officer long before my opponent started attending PUD meetings.  

The candidate who touts himself as the “Candidate of Science” states “one can’t be off the grid for roads or information”.  Does he not grasp the concept of wireless and satellite communications?  Which by the way, are currently available to nearly the entire county through private sector internet service providers.  I am curious to hear the details of what exactly it is he is alluding to with that statement.

He touts his managerial skills and experience.  PUD Commissioners, by Revised Code of Washington 54 (RCW) and the PUD Governance Policy, only manage one employee, the manager.  So, I would like him to explain who it is that he expects to manage.  The combined board is the entity that is tasked with the oversight of the manager, not any one commissioner.  The manager, under the aforementioned references to documentation, is the person tasked with day-to-day operations of the PUD and oversight of all of its employees.  

He states that you should vote for him because he is going to lower your rates, improve the economy and protect the environment.  I would like to have him explain, in detail, how he is going to lower our rates with a 10-year BPA contract that increases its rates 3 to 5 percent a year and requires a minimum usage, that if we fall below that level, our rates are increased to cover the difference in guaranteed power that we contracted to buy.  On the water and sewer systems that the PUD maintains and operates, rates were just increased to compensate for a long period of time where rates were not increased, so now the PUD needs to upgrade and maintain the systems.  Like everything else, inflation is also part of these financial equations.  Again, ask him to explain in detail how he is going to lower the rates and how long it will take.  The best way to improve the economy is to focus and prioritize on providing water, power and sewer services to the communities that need it to expand affordable housing and for job creation.  No one in this county wants to see the environment or our quality of life to be diminished.  Myself included.  I was born and raised in this county, and like many of the other people who call this place home, my family strives to be good stewards of the land.  

He concludes his plea for your vote, your help and your support by stating “I don’t intend to be the caretaker of a public utility”.  Would someone ask him politely and with respect to quantify and qualify that statement?  With a $102 million debt over the next 24 years and an electric branch of the utility that is a $36 million operation of a $39 million PUD budget, I don’t think anyone expects him to be a caretaker.  Almost everything he proposes, if you can find any detail on what he proposes, will most certainly lead to higher rates, fees, surcharges, and more debt.  

Good intentions are just that.  Until you attach detail and a plan that lays out how you are going to achieve your intention, its just vague talk and empty promises.  In my opinion, my opponent has not explained how to achieve what he proposes, however well-intentioned they may be.  

Thank you for your attention.  Please vote for Dan Toepper PUD Commissioner and put the PUD in the hands of the people of Jefferson County. 

Dan Toepper
Candidate for PUD Commissioner

Opponent Waffles on "Debt"

On my opponent's website, a recent post grossly misrepresents my fiscally conservative position that the PUD should not take on any more debt.  Mr. Brotherton states, “He rails against the big debt it took on to buy the electric assets from PSE."  This blind aversion to debt will harm the PUD if he's elected.

This assertion is a complete fabrication.  I challenge my opponent to document any such statement during this campaign that I have made.

I am glad that we purchased the electric utility from PSE and now have our power in our community's hands.  I am concerned, however, with a debt of over 100 million dollars that we do not increase that debt load.  My opponent appears to have no such concerns.

I support the PUD 100% and my number one goal is to help it to be successful. Debt can be considered if details for a reasonable return over a reasonable duration and at a reasonable interest rate can be identified to advance your strategic and capital planning.  If that process yields negative indicators, other actions must be considered.  Debt should be a tool of last resort if there are no other viable avenues to follow.  

Again my opponent talks of something he is in favor of yet fails to quantify or qualify why.  What is it he proposes?  On the topic of “Debt,” he consistently advocates in favor of adding more debt without giving justification for it, or, how it will improve the PUD's financial position. 

Hiding behind terms like “profit" does not change the numbers.  What is Tom Brotherton's idea of enough debt? At the Tuesday, October 16 PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on the proposed 2019 budget, the General Manager and the Commissioners had a very telling conversation about revenues and expenditures.  The manager informed them that if revenues for the 2019 cycle did not meet projections that the PUD would need to borrow money and/or raise rates.  I ask you, does this sound like an entity that is turning a profit?  Listen to the audio from that meeting if you don’t believe me.

Tom Brotherton touts himself as an entrepreneur. However, public utilities are not the same thing as a private enterprise. In the business world, you can take a risk, like debt, and fail, which is on you.  As an elected official you cannot gamble with the public trust and the public checkbook.  Mr. Brotherton has made statements that concern me and should concern you about a cavalier approach to finances.

Please contact your current PUD Commissioners. Ask them about the issues that I have addressed.

Dan Toepper, Candidate for Jefferson County PUD Commissioner