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 more than 20,500 water utility customers in a 205 sq. ml. service territory, via about 390 miles of pipe.
In 2012 the PUD's revenues grew by 1% thanks to an electric rate increase of 3%. Retail sales also grew as the result of higher energy sales and rate increases for both power and water use. Wholesale sales grew as higher than usual rainfall allowed the company to sell more surplus power into the wholesale power market. Snohomish County PUD posted a net income of $63.7 million in 2012 (compared to a loss of $81.9 million) due to increased sales.
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.
In 2013 solar energy capacity stood at two MW, enough to serve 170 homes. More than 350 PUD customers cover part of their electricity needs through their own solar energy units. The PUD’s Solar Express program offers financial incentives and technical assistance for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems.
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.
Supported by $15.8 million in matching federal stimulus dollars, in 2011 Snohomish County PUD 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.
Snohomish County PUD is a government-owned entity.
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.