Keeping its customers satisfied is priority No. 1 at Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington (Snohomish County PUD), which distributes electricity to about 320,230 commercial, industrial, and residential customers in Washington State. The utility, the largest PUD in the state, with a 2,200 sq. ml. service area, purchases most of its power supply from third parties (Bonneville Power Administration and other producers. It operates hydroelectric and fossil-fueled power plants and participates in wholesale power transactions to balance its supply load. Snohomish County PUD also serves about 20,100 water utility customers in a 205 sq. ml. service territory, via more than 380 miles of pipe.
Snohomish County PUD's revenues dropped in 2009 as the result of the global recession hurting commodity prices and weakening demand. Two new contracts for renewable power also pushed up utility's expenses that year.
The company's revenues dropped further in 2010 as the result of a weak wholesale power market, and less surplus power available to sell to wholesale customers. Net income also slumped due higher operating expenses, including higher depreciation and regulatory compliance costs.
In 2011 Snohomish County PUD had 164 MW of power generating capacity. To meet federal and state goals for reducing greenhouse gases, the utility is exploring a range of green energy options, conservation measures and new power generation activities, including geothermal, tidal, wind, and solar power.
Supported by $15.8 million in matching federal stimulus dollars, in 2011 the company completed its first major project as part of a long-term upgrade of its electric grid with smart grid technology. The upgrade includes the installation of more than 160 miles of fiber optic cable, and connecting them to 62 substations, two radio sites and other utility buildings.
In 2012 the company amended a power contract with Hampton Lumber (a fuel supplier since 2007) that will boost the level of biomass energy the utility will receive from the lumber company's Darrington plant. The new agreement will allow Snohomish County PUD to receive up to 2.5 MW of energy from Hampton Lumber, enough energy to power about 2,000 homes.
The company began providing water utility service to parts of Snohomish County in 1946. Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County began operating as power utility in 1949, providing publicly owned electric and water utility service to the residents of Snohomish County and Camano Island.