Power rates main issue for PUD race

PASCO -- Power rates are the main issue in a race for a seat on the Franklin PUD commission in Tuesday's election.

Jack Wright, a self-employed civil engineer, is running against incumbent Chuck Hall for Position 1, which Hall has held since 2005.

Wright, 49, said he decided to run after seeing how much higher the rates were for Franklin PUD customers compared with other districts in the area.

"I just started getting angry," he said.

Hall, 75, of Pasco, said the rates are just a little above average for the state.

"My main goal is to keep rates stable," Hall said. "We hope we can get through 2011 without a rate increase."

Wright, who lives in Pasco, said he feels the PUD has spent too much money on broadband, including $2 million to bring service to rural areas.

"I question whether or not $2 million is worth it," Wright said.

Hall said that project was paid for with federal stimulus dollars and cost the utility about $200,000. The service is needed for get internet service to rural homes and businesses, he said.

Although several of the Frankiln PUD commission decisions Wright has a problem with were made before his opponent, Chuck Hall, was on the commission. Wright still thinks Hall could have handled things better.

"I don't think he's done enough on the important issues," he said.

Wright cites his experience as another reason he should get the job. He was the Richland city engineer from 1996-99, and he was a member of the Franklin County Irrigation District board from 1991-97.

Hall, who is president of the PUD commission, said he has been a business owner in Pasco for about 18 years. He owns Auto Machine and Supply in Pasco with his family.

* Cathy Kessinger: 509-582-1535;