PUD 1 newsletter contributors Katie Arnold, Kristin Masteller and Darin Hall.

POTLATCH, WA- Mason County PUD No. 1 was honored this fall with four awards for excellence in communications. The District received a first place honor from the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) in the Group A (less than 10,000 customers) wildcard category for their Dam Proud shirts, as well as a second place finish for the PUD newsletter “The Connector”, and a third place finish for the Community Solar II advertising campaign. NWPPA reported that they received a record setting 200 entries in 2020. The top three entries in each category are honored, broken out by utility size.

The American Public Power Association also handed down 42 top communications honors selected from their national membership. Mason PUD 1 was bestowed with an Award of Merit for “The Connector” in the category of utilities with operating revenues of $75 million or less. “This national recognition for our newsletter is really fantastic and marks the first time we have been honored by APPA for our communications efforts. To put it into perspective, we are competing with other member utilities all across the United States, many of whom have large budgets and entire communications departments.

We have an $11 million operating budget and all 25 of us at the PUD serve as communicators,” stated Kristin Masteller, PUD 1’s general manager. “Communications is a core value at PUD 1 and we work really hard to improve upon it internally and every time we engage with our customers.”


The awards for both NWPPA and APPA were presented at their virtual communications conferences earlier this fall.

Mason County PUD No. 1 unveiled their second community solar project at a drive-in ribbon cutting on Tuesday, July 28th at the PUD’s new warehouse in Potlatch. After construction delays and rescheduling due to the pandemic, persistence paid off as over two dozen customers, community members, and employees came together under proper safety guidelines to celebrate the new solar array. “It was difficult trying to navigate around the Safe Start guidelines to hold a ribbon cutting event where our customers felt safe to participate,” stated Julie Gray, project manager for the PUD’s solar program. “After almost cancelling again, we floated the idea of having a drive-in style ribbon cutting where people could come to the campus to see their solar project from their vehicles. I was surprised at how many of them immediately replied that they loved the idea, so we made it happen.”


The Community Solar II project was developed by customer request. “Washington state PUDs are longstanding leaders in clean energy, with many of us having fuel mixes that are already 95-98% carbon free. Despite the reduction in state incentives for community and rooftop solar, we are still getting a strong interest from our customer base for solar and other renewable energy projects, which motivates us to make these opportunities available for our ratepayers,” said PUD 1 general manager Kristin Masteller. In addition to the two community solar projects, and three privately-owned hydroelectric projects on the PUD 1 system, the District also has invested in electric vehicle charging at the PUD and has partnered with local businesses and the Skokomish Tribe to expand it through the PUD’s service area.


Solar panels are predicted to produce energy for approximately 20 years. The PUD estimates that with the state incentive that runs through 2028, and the anticipated output from the array, customers who purchased units of the project, at $100 per unit, should see a return on their investment in 15-18 years. “While our first solar project did have a much higher incentive payment, it also produced enough energy to pay for itself in four years, where we were initially estimating 7-10 years,” stated Gray. “It’s possible that this project could exceed our generation estimates too and shorten that payback time. From then on, it’s income earned through energy credits on customers’ bills for the rest of the life of the project.”


At over 50 kilowatts, this project is more than twice the size of the PUD’s first solar project in 2016.In addition to the 965 units purchased by 41 customers, 500 units were paid for with a $50,000 grant from Bonneville Environmental Foundation to fund a low-income program. “BEF has been an amazing renewable energy partner for the PUD. This is the second project we’ve worked on with them and we have another in the pipeline later this year,” said Masteller. “Their grant enabled us to enroll 10 low income households in the program and those customers will receive the solar benefits until 2024, when we will draw 10 new participants. Over the life of the system, we should see up to 50 low-income households go through this program over the next 20 years. It’s an innovative way to ensure people at all income levels can take part in clean energy projects.”


Gray reported that between its start in May through June 30th, the array had already produced 14,193 kilowatt hours. Participants should receive their first incentive payment in coming weeks. The generation for both projects can be tracked online at solar.mason-pud1.org.

T.J. GoosAt the April 23, 2019 board of commissioners meeting, Mason County PUD No. 1’s lead water system operator TJ Goos was presented with a plaque inscribed “2018 Water Operator of the Year” by Evergreen Rural Water of Washington (ERWoW). Goos was surprised with the announcement of his award at the ERWoW annual conference in Yakima earlier this spring. The plaque and presentation before the PUD 1 board of commissioners made it official.


Tracey Hunter, executive director for ERWoW, (pictured with Goos) cited several reasons Goos was chosen for the honor, including his leadership under pressure when one of the District’s systems encountered a bad routine sample that required substantial reservoir repairs and coordination between state agencies, the PUD, and customers. She also mentioned Goos’ efforts to help the District research and onboard 32 new water systems last July which increased its customer base by about 30%.


“TJ’s leadership has really shined in both emergency situations and ongoing daily operations over the last 18 months. He’s very deserving of this award and Evergreen Rural Water has been a great partner and resource to the PUD”, stated general manager Kristin Masteller. “We’re incredibly proud of the work he has done for the utility on behalf of our ratepayers.”


Founded in 1994, ERWoW provides training and technical assistance to water and wastewater systems throughout the state to provide help in solving rural water problems. Their headquarters is located in Shelton, Washington.

March 2018-

“Spill” is quite literally the water that is spilled through massive gates that are raised at our federal hydropower dams. The spill is designed to help young salmon migrate quicker and easier downstream from the rivers to the ocean. Due to a ruling after two decades of litigation from fish advocates, Judge Simon from the Oregon U.S. District Court ruled for additional spills this year at eight large dams from April through mid-June. This will hit all of us Northwest ratepayers right in our wallets through our electric bills. Read more

March 2017-

PUD 1 receives its power from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) which runs the hydroelectric system in the Northwest. Back in the mid-1990’s the federal government passed a new energy bill which gave some of the benefits of the hydro system back to investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like Puget Sound Energy. The IOUs complained that preference customers, like Mason PUD 1, that received their power from the federal hydro system have more benefits of the system than IOUs did. Their argument was that federal money was used to build the system so all tax payers should benefit from it. As a result, $50 million a year was given to IOUs to level the playing field. Today, that number is about $250 million per year.

We (public power) protested this and we went to court over it. Read more

My father helped build the lower Snake River dams.  I’m sure he would turn over in his grave if he knew what some environmental organizations are now proposing.  For example, Wendy Gerlitz of the Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC) recently opined that the region must choose between healthy populations of wild salmon and removing the Snake dams. NWEC’s solution is to remove the dams and replace them with more energy conservation and new wind/solar projects. In reality, salmon and dams, including the Snake dams, are co-existing and thriving – good news for those who care about restoring salmon and reducing carbon emissions.

No matter how many times NWEC makes their assertion, it simply doesn’t change the facts. Read more

March, 2016-

When I opened this morning’s paper the headline read, “Washington Considers Nation’s First Carbon Tax.”  At a recent Washington PUD Association meeting we discussed the various carbon reduction policies that are currently in play in Olympia as well as Washington DC.  There are multiple policies that could impact our cost of providing reliable electricity to you the ratepayer. To list a few:

  • At the direction of the Governor, the Department of Ecology began working on developing a cap on emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from large emitters in the state called the “Clean Air Rule.” Recently, Ecology announced that after receiving feedback from the public and stakeholders, they are withdrawing the proposed rule, updating it, and will release a new proposed rule this spring. Their goal is to finalize and adopt the Clean Air Rule this summer.
  • Ecology is also taking the lead on development of a plan for the state to comply with the President’s Executive Order/EPA Clean Power Plan rule that sets CO2 emission limits for the nation’s existing power plants. While the state is currently working on the compliance plan, the future of the EPA Clean Power Plan is uncertain. The U.S. Supreme Court imposed an injunction on implementation of the rule while legal challenges are addressed.
  • In addition, there’s an initiative (I-732) before the state legislature that would impose a tax on carbon emissions from the generation of electricity used by consumers in Washington State with the funds going toward a 1% reduction in the state sales tax, a reduction in the B&O tax on manufacturing, and to provide funding for the working families sales tax exemption. If the legislature doesn’t enact it, the initiative will go to voters to decide in the fall.

How would all these measures impact Mason PUD 1?

Because the Clean Air Rule and Clean Power Plan are still in development, we don’t know how those policies will ultimately interact with each other or with I-732, should the initiative pass. Because the initiative has already been drafted, we do know more about potential impacts to our PUD.

If enacted, the initiative’s carbon tax would start in 2017 at $15 per metric ton of CO2, rise to $25 in 2018 and increase by 3.5% plus inflation annually until it reaches a cap of $100 per ton in 2016 dollars. The tax would impact what we and ultimately you pay for electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration. During low water periods, BPA has to make market purchases of electricity. Market purchases come from a pool of unspecified electricity resources; meaning the source of electricity isn’t identified (think grab-bag of electricity). The Initiative assumes the unspecified resources have a certain level of carbon emissions and would apply the tax based on the assumed emissions. According to the initiative proponents, the intent is to treat these resources as if they were coal generation. That means at the $15 per ton level, our cost of power would increase approximately $60,000 in a high water year and $212,000 in a low water year. These costs will vary with the tax increasing annually until the $100 per ton cap is hit.

Regardless of the approach, as our community, state, and nation considers measures to reduce carbon, I believe it is important to ensure that carbon reduction policies are complementary and not additive. We should avoid conflicting or redundant policies that may increase costs without a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions. We should also ensure that our polices ensure reliability of the electric grid, and that they provide value to our community.

We are fortunate in that we are starting from a good place. 95% of the electricity used to serve customers is from zero-carbon resources- mainly clean, renewable hydropower. As your elected representative, I am honored to work to protect and maximize the value of our reliable, low-cost and clean hydropower resources.

In the interest of keeping our community informed on policies that may impact the costs and delivery of services, I plan to call a public hearing on Tuesday, May 10th at 1:00 p.m. at the District board room to provide information on the various approaches to carbon reduction and to hear from you, the owners of our system.  Following the work session, the Board may vote on a resolution that will outline our official position on the various carbon reduction efforts.  We look forward to a productive conversation and hope to hear from you.


Karl Denison

Commissioner, District 1

Read more

February marked the 80th year of public service for Mason County PUD No. 1. While Homer T. Bone is often cited as the “father of public power”, one very influential public power supporter in our state was Morrison F. Pixley.

Pixley was a land developer and the nephew of Frank M. Pixley, the celebrated founder of The Argonaut, one of the most influential publications in California in the late 1800s. After the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906, Pixley purchased land along Hood Canal from lumberman John McReavy, with the hopes of creating an artist colony called “Yacht Haven”, what would later become Union City. In 1916, Pixley moved his family from California to their new estate just west of where Alderbrook Resort now sits, and became fast friends with another local artist named Orre Nobles. Read more

December, 2014

Emergency Preparedness is important.

In October, the PUD participated in the Great Washington Shake Out earthquake drill and earlier in the year employees revised our Emergency Response Plan. We have to be ready so that when the devastating earthquake does finally hit, we have a practiced plan in place to help get the power back on and provide water to our customers while you all work to get your own homes and business back in order. We also actively participate in County-wide disaster planning with other public agencies.

While it may be a while before we have a large scale disaster, it’s very important to make sure that you’re prepared to survive without vital infrastructure such as power, water, phones, road access, transportation and especially food and heat. Read more

June 2014-

By: Commissioner Jack Janda
On a recent tour of the Hanford Site with the Energy Northwest Executive Board, I was struck by the difference between the nuclear waste the Department of Energy is dealing with from our country’s defense programs, and what some people call nuclear “waste” from the generation of electricity.

Used Nuclear Fuel - Dry Storage Area

People tend to confuse nuclear defense waste with used fuel from commercially-operated nuclear energy facilities like the used fuel stored at Columbia Generating Station, the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear energy facility. But there is a key difference. Unlike high-level radioactive liquid waste at Hanford, used commercial reactor fuel is, and always remains, a solid ceramic pellet.

Read more