The PUD and the cost of broadband services
I want to take umbrage with the recent “My Turn” column written by Jim Maass, president of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District Board of Directors, concerning our local PUD and their broadband experiment. While I agree, it is good for citizens of Truckee to have “choices” for their broadband services, I am appalled at how much this is costing all of us. The news article in the Sierra Sun (July 16, 2004) entitled “Broadband to soar $7 million over expectations” stated that the district will now have to borrow a total of $24 million dollars instead of $17 million. The question is, who is going to pay for all of this? The board and management are under the illusion that they can generate enough revenue from subscribers to pay for this. I am amazed that nobody else seems to be outraged.Keep in mind that this is the same PUD that signed a multi-million dollar power contract with Idaho Power during the California energy crisis. Once the crisis calmed down they were forced to pay Idaho Power millions of dollars to get out of a bad contract, according to articles appearing in the Sierra Sun. Who made these awful decisions that cost all of us millions of dollars?After the energy crisis the PUD put a new power contract out to bid. Various power companies put in bids for this contract. However, Peter Holzmeister, the general manager of the PUD, publicly stated at the time that management had chosen the new provider of services and that the public did not need to know who the other bidders were or how much their bids cost.I have news for them; last I checked our local PUD is called The Truckee Donner Public Utility District. This name contains the word “PUBLIC” which means it is meant to serve all of us citizens. Because it is a public entity and not a private corporation that means we have a right to know about all of their decisions and why they make them. Mr. Holzmeister also states in the article two weeks ago that “good bidders added a little extra into their bids to ensure that they would meet quality standards.” The question here is how much more did these bidders add and why are we supplementing them? I agree with Maia Schneider, I am thankful that at least there is a person named Pat Sutton that sits on the board. This board member likes to question and challenge facts and decisions and then she promptly gets slammed in the paper for doing so.I have another message to the PUD board. While I have to purchase your power, I do not have to buy your broadband services. My SBC DSL service works incredibly well and I love my DIRECTV. I never lose these services in the worst of winter storms unless I have no power to fire up my television set or computer, which happens often. I also know that my DSL line is more secure than a cable modem. Under no circumstances will I purchase your broadband services. I know many of my neighbors feel the same way I do. Remember, competition is good and you have to compete for our business. I suggest the current board go back and reassess the cost and revenue projections of their broadband scheme. New technologies such as wireless services will also be a threat to these projections. The PUD now plans to issue $24 million in bonds to pay for this project with $2 million in contingency money built into the financing just in case. Clearly the board of the PUD is feeding at the “trough” just like our elected Republicans and Democrats in Washington. I fear that all current power customers may get stuck with this bill. My power bill has already gone up by about 40 percent over the last year. Voters should take a hard look at the current board in the next election cycle and elect some new board members come November.Peter A. Trummer is a resident of Truckee
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