Getting to know the candidates: Terry Brewer
The General Election is Nov. 6. This candidate supplied a photo and answers to a set of questions posed by the Post-Register.
Candidate for Grant County PUD Commissioner, District 1, a six-year term, nonpartisan.
Why are you running for office?
Grant County voters have elected me twice as PUD commissioner. During my time as commissioner, we have nearly completed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Priest Rapids Hydro Relicensing requirements. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars for programs related to fish and wildlife, habitat and environment, cultural resources, and recreation. We did our best to meet our obligations and secure the best value possible for our dollars. We have also spent hundreds of millions on hydro turbine and generator upgrades. We have also built new transmission lines and substations in order to meet new customer demands throughout Grant County. We have extended our fiber optic network to the extent that 70 percent of our customers now have the opportunity to connect to fiber for broadband services. There is still much work to be done and I want to see that we do not stop short of our goal line.
What are the largest issues to deal with in the office?
Fairness in rate setting is one of the largest issues we have faced. This commission has dealt with that by adopting a policy giving Residential, Irrigation and Small Business customers preference to our hydropower and that between 2015 and 2024 we will adjust our rates so and that they will all be at 20 percent below cost. We will also adjust Industrial rates so that they are at 15 percent above cost.
How would your service in office affect the Quincy Valley?
My service has resulted in policies and rates that have been attractive to Industrial customers at the PUD such as data centers, manufacturers and food processors. I was directly engaged in bringing the data centers to Quincy and know full well the positive benefits that those company investments and operations mean to Quincy, and what their power usage and revenue means to the PUD. Future PUD policy will determine whether or not the companies in Quincy and throughout Grant County continue to grow here or in some other part of the U.S.A.
What are your top qualifications for the office?
I have a B.S. in business administration from Indiana University. I worked for more than 30 years at a large generating electric company (NIPSCO) in northern Indiana where I held numerous positions in engineering, operations and management. I have lived and worked in Grant County for 21 years. I was the executive director at the Grant County Economic Development Council for 15 years where we focused on business retention and expansion and business recruitment in the industrial sector of our economy (that included data centers). I am an experienced PUD commissioner who understands the Washington state law that governs PUDs. I have always focused my attention on efficient, cost-effective operations that will result in low cost rates and high value customers service at the PUD.
What else would you like Quincy Valley voters to know?
My opponent says that we have too much debt at the PUD and it is not right that our grandchildren will be paying for it. There are only three ways that we can reasonably use to pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars that we have spent on capital expenditures related to our FERC hydro license, our rebuilding and refurbishing work at the dams and reinforcing our transmission lines, substations and distribution lines that serve our growing communities in Grant County. Those options are: utilize existing cash, revenue finance or debt finance. If we had used our cash, it would have been gone years ago and our credit rating would be the lowest of lows among utilities. If we revenue financed, that would result in electric rates that are approximately 45 to 50 percent higher than they are now. I do not believe that either of those options are realistic for a large utility like Grant PUD who has faced the amount of capital expenditure that we have made to meet our obligations and customer demands. Every large utility finances construction of 30+ year life assets with debt. At Grant PUD we sell mostly tax exempt municipal bonds at very low interest rates, keeping our interest as low as possible. I can’t imagine charging our current customers today for expenditures that will be used and useful for 30 or 40 or 50 years into the future. “Generational Fairness” is: both current and future customers who will benefit from those assets should all pay over time to keep electric rates as affordable as possible, now and well into the future.
What is the best way for voters to contact you?
I appreciate that voters have elected me twice as District 1 Commissioner at Grant PUD and hope very much that their confidence in me and my positions will result in my re-election in November.