Current Federal Issues

Current Federal Issues

Mason County and Washington DC are closer than you think.

These are quick summaries sharing a local perspective on national issues.

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Mason PUD 3’s Self-Funded Rural Broadband Initiative

Mason PUD 3’s Fiberhood program is a public/private partnership aimed at delivering rural gigabit service. It is focused on communities with no broadband service, or service that does not meet the FCC standard of 25 Mbps up, and 3 Mbps down. 

PUD 3 does not overbuild existing service providers who exceed the FCC standard.


How it Works

Shovel Ready Projects

There are 35 prequalified communities, representing over 2,500 homes in PUD 3’s service territory.

The average Fiberhood is 72 homes, small businesses, and cottage industry locations with an average build cost of $149,000. This includes any necessary line extensions, the neighborhood distribution network, and fiber connections all the way to the home.


Community Competition is Good

Communities compete against each other for priority. They use a PUD online service to bring their communities together.

When a competing community reaches a 75% commitment level, PUD 3 adds it to the construction list.


Recover Costs Over Time

Using the public power cost recovery model, connected communities pay a construction adder over 12 years to cover the extension of the network to their area.

Only active users in successfully established Fiberhoods pay the construction adder: not all PUD 3 customers, and not customers in Fiberhoods that choose not to take service.




Bonneville Power Administration

  • Thanks for protecting this asset for the people and economy of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Thanks to Elliot Mainzer for this efforts to impose fiscal and operational discipline.
  • Thanks to Mainzer and NW Power & Conservation Council for demanding cost effective Fish & wildlife programs.
  • Maintain the success of the existing agreement for Columbia River management. Experimental water spills costing $40 million have been directed by Federal Judge Michael Simon, exceeding the 2014 plan. PUD 3 will see increased costs of up to $500,000 for this. It will be passed along to our customers as a separate line item in their bills.

Mason PUD 3’s Grid Modernization Project

  • Funded by part of a 2010 bond sale, financially aided by Build America Bonds.
  • Will save $15 million over the next ten years due to more efficient management of the PUD’s electricity distribution system.
  • $4.3 million savings by using the PUD’s fiber optic network for the communication backbone.
  • Provide for the opportunity to upgrade radio communications for PUD 3, public safety agencies, and other governmental organizations.

The greatest benefits include:

  • Better monitoring of the quality and reliability of the local electrical distribution system.
  • Customers will be able to see their energy use via their online accounts. This helps them monitor energy (whether they are full-time or seasonal customers) use and find ways to conserve.
  • More accurate measurements of voltage on high capacity power lines. Improving voltage quality results in lower electricity use and reduced energy losses. This means lower purchases of wholesale energy. Most of the cost savings will come from this, which is not the most exciting, but one of the most important things we'll be able to do with the project.
  • Quicker outage notification directly from the advanced meter, and more effective restoration of electricity to customers. This is the most exciting part.
  • More efficient meter reading by using remote meter reading technology.
  • Better reliability of equipment, resulting in lower maintenance costs.
  • Proven technology, already used by most western Washington public and private utilities.


Pole Attachment Rates & 5G Technology

  • Washington State has its own pole attachment regulations and rate formulas. The state’s regulations reverse pre-empt federal regulation.
  • Federally mandated changes to the rate formula will lead to customers subsidizing pole attachment rates for private companies.
  • 5G Technology is not well suited for rural broadband alternatives:
    • Small range of radio coverage (500 – 1, 1500 feet).
    • Needs high capacity broadband service for each unit, fiber preferred.
    • Existing poles may not have communications space or enough height to support a 5G unit.
    • Pole replacement to accommodate 5G units could range between $3,000 and $5,000 per pole, depending on the complexity of the work.

Columbia River Treaty

  • Glad to see that we’re scheduling the start of negotiations.
  • Protect our customers from unwarranted increases in costs.
  • Give us credit for past and ongoing fish and wildlife programs.
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