One of our quiet success stories locally for many years has been Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1. As one of its three nonpartisan commissioners since 1980, I'm proud to have been a part of its contributions to our economy and environment.
Founded in 1937 by a vote of Whatcom County citizens, Public Utility District No. 1 is a business with a total annual cash flow in 2011 estimated at $15 million. We also have 22 employees. We currently supply three electrical customers, including the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, with 27 megawatt-hours of electricity purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration. To do this, we own 13 miles of transmission lines and two substations.
Public Utility District No. 1 also provides industrial-grade water to 10 industrial customers (including Alcoa Intalco Works, BP Cherry Point Refinery and the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery), and 50 irrigation customers, plus potable water and fire protection for Grandview Industrial Park and I-5 Industrial Park. As a result, we provide customers 5.4 billion gallons of water per year at the lowest industrial water rates in the state.
Environmental stewardship is also a high priority for Public Utility District No. 1. We've implemented steps that reduced water consumption by several million gallons per day, resulting in improved stream flow in the Nooksack River. We also support the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association on fish and wildlife habitat recovery efforts.
Sound financial management has enabled Public Utility District No. 1 to operate without seeking property taxes from residents and businesses. It's also led to an improved bond rating that lowers our borrowing costs. State audits of our financial records and practices have been clean for the last five years.
The future looks good as well. Public Utility District No. 1 has contracts through 2028 with the Bonneville Power Administration that will enable it to continue providing electricity and water for its customers. We've made improvements to the district electric and water systems that improve their reliability and lower the cost of power. We're also implementing a district electric system capital rebuilding plan - again, without collecting property taxes to fund it.
My background has proven ideal for serving as a commissioner of Public Utility District No. 1. I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration. I've served since 1974 as the top executive at Snapper Shuler Kenner Insurance, which has 30 employees at offices in Lynden and Bellingham. Northwest Business Monthly named me a finalist for its Business Person of the Year award in 2006.
By running Public Utility District No. 1 as a business, commissioners have given Whatcom County a utility that supports our largest industrial employers and is in excellent condition financially without relying on taxpayer dollars.
I'm running for re-election as a commissioner because I want to help Public Utility District No. 1 face future challenges and take advantage of opportunities that will benefit Whatcom County. Public Utility District No. 1 is working with state and federal agencies and tribal interest on solutions to complex issues involving water rights and water supply. We need to continue implementation of the long-range capital plan along with the financial management plan supporting it. And we must participate where appropriate in water, electric and telecommunication projects that come to us from the community, such as the Foothills broadband project in east Whatcom County.
Effective leadership on these issues requires knowledge of the district's resources and past efforts. It also needs an awareness of the needs of Whatcom County's residents, businesses and environment. As a longtime county resident and a Public Utility District No. 1 commissioner since 1980, I'm informed about our issues and history and eager to contribute to the continued success of Public Utility District No. 1. I'd appreciate your vote in the Nov. 6 general election.
Paul Kenner is the incumbent and a candidate for District 2 commissioner for Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1. The district has countywide authority to supply electric and water services. It is governed by a three-member nonpartisan board of commissioners who serve staggered six-year terms. Commissioners are paid $1,300 a month, as set by state law based on water sales. District 2 covers northeast Whatcom County with boundaries that match those for the Whatcom County Council. One candidate will win election in the Nov. 6 general election.