Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

Tag: tacoma public utilities


TACOMA: Resist putting utilities under council control

John Ladenburg (letter, 2-13) and Bill Baarsma (letter, 2-13) raised different criticisms of The News Tribune’s editorial, “Coming soon: Raid on Tacoma utilities” (2-11).

Ladenburg suggested that an autonomous utility is dangerous due to its history of expansionist policies and hiding issues from the Tacoma City Council.

During the energy crisis of 2000-2001, Tacoma Public Utilities needed to significantly raise rates to prevent insolvency. Under the city charter, rate increases proposed by the utility board need the approval of the City Council.

As a member of the City Council during that period, approving the 50 percent increase

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TACOMA: Charter review will be an open process

I was surprised and disappointed by the tone taken in the editorial concerning Tacoma’s mandated charter review process (TNT, 2-11). In point of fact, the Charter Review Committee has not yet taken formal testimony concerning the status of the city’s six utilities (the three under the independent board and the three within the general government).

Committee member Ken Miller and I met with Utilities Director Bill Gaines and his deputy, Bob Mack, at Gaines’ invitation and with the concurrence of the full committee. The four of us had a thoughtful two-hour conversation over the current and future state of

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TACOMA: Citizens need to control public utilities

Re: “Coming soon: Raid on Tacoma utilities” (editorial, 2-11).

The editorial supporting keeping Tacoma Public Utilities out of the control of the City Council is wrong.

First, the city was not saved by the Utility Board from the 2000-2001 utility crises, because the City Council has to approve the utility rates, which they did.

Second, you forget that the utility almost bankrupted Tacoma in the 1980s. Expansionist policies of the utility got us heavily involved in the Washington Public Power Supply System, later known as “Whoops.” This disaster involved our investment in nuclear power plants that were “badly needed.”

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TACOMA: Consider divesting public utility

Re: “Panel draws dismal picture of Tacoma’s fiscal future” (TNT, 12-1).

One thing that was not mentioned in the article that could have a positive impact on the city’s budget and its overall operation is divestiture of its public utility. By divestiture, I mean spin Tacoma Public Utilities off as a public utility district (PUD), of which there are many in the state.

Granted, it would probably be the most controversial and difficult change that the city may ever face, but nevertheless, one that would resolve two longstanding issues and have a positive impact on the city’s finances.


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TACOMA: Non-residents pay for city’s poor leadership?

I live in Puyallup and get my power from Tacoma Public Utilities. I can’t vote on Tacoma’s Proposition 1, but highly suspect my power rate will, in time, increase if it is approved.

I think it is negligent that the leadership in Tacoma didn’t properly take care of their roads and now have to demand a handout from folks who don’t live there. I’m quite irritated by possibly having to participate in the bailout for the City of Tacoma’s Streets & Road Fix-It Program.

This reminds me of “taxation without representation.” Tacoma voters, please don’t approve this flawed plan.


ENERGY: TPU using flawed methodology

As a recently retired Tacoma Public Utilities energy engineer, I am now free to talk about how TPU chooses conservation projects and how millions of dollars of potential energy-conservation projects go unfunded by TPU because the department uses an outdated and excessively conservative method of evaluating the economics of energy projects.

TPU Superintendent Ted Coates has firmly established a method of looking at energy projects that adds costs unrelated to energy to the test, which results in many projects that are stellar economic performers for other utilities going unfunded at TPU. This is TPU’s own economic test; the methodology has

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TACOMA: Utility tax will impact many non-residents

Sure, Tacoma would like to pay for its road improvements with a 2 percent increase in the utility tax. They are well aware that 45.7 percent of TPU customers live outside of the city limits and including them would almost double their tax base. Isn’t this “taxation without representation” since only Tacoma residents will be able to vote on this tax?


TACOMA: Utilities will hike rates if taxed more

Re: “Tacomans support utility tax for road repair” (TNT, 7-30).

The article on taxing utilities shows some very misleading survey questions. It almost appears that this 2 percent tax is free money.

Here are some facts. Tacoma Public Utilities’ rate model is “cost of service.” If its cost increases 2 percent, so will the rates.

More than half of Tacoma Public Utilities’ customers are outside the Tacoma city limits, and these folks don’t even get to vote on this measure. Is that even constitutional? Taxed but not represented. Seems we once fought a revolution over that.

My rates may

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