Benton PUD History
Washington’s first initiative, passed by voters in 1930, gave citizens of each county the right to form a public utility district (PUD). Benton PUD was organized by a local vote of the people in 1934. PUDs were created to provide electricity, water and sewer services for the benefit of the people of Washington State. Since their conception, the role of public utility districts has expanded to include wholesale broadband telecommunication services.
On September 12, 1946 Benton PUD became an operating utility and assumed operation of the electrical distribution system from Pacific Power and Light serving 3,754 customers. Those first years were busy upgrading and expanding the system to handle the very fast growing county. Thanks to abundant public power, Hanford had catapulted the county from a small rurual area to an industrial and commercial community. While the average bill in 1946 was around $5, electricity was only used for lighting, a few appliances and in rare cases, heat. Our quality of life has changed over the years, thanks to electricity. Today, we take electricity for granted to operate our computers, televisions and charge our cell phones.
During Benton PUD's first year of operation, manager John Whitehead, also managed the Benton REA. At that time Benton PUD's main office was in Prosser and the Kennewick office was in downtown Kennewick on Kennewick Avenue. On November 20, 1947, Mr. Whitehead resigned because the REA Management Division recommended dissolution of joint management and operation of Benton REA and Benton PUD. In the spring of 1955, Benton PUD moved to new headquarters at 524 S. Auburn in Kennewick.
In January 1994, Benton PUD moved its Kennewick headquarters to its present location of 2721 W. 10th Avenue. The Prosser office opened a new facility in 2007 at 250 N. Gap Road.
Benton PUD now serves over 50,000 customers in Kennewick, Finley, Benton City, Prosser, and outlining areas.
PUDs, municipalities, and co-ops operate public power systems with the common purpose to provide reliable, not-for-profit services to their customer. Today there are twenty-eight PUDs that serve more than 1.7 million citizens throughout Washington. Nationally, nearly 15% of electric customers are serviced by public power in over 2,000 communities.
As your local public power utility, Benton PUD takes pride in being your trusted energy partner and providing you the following benefits:
Low Cost Service – All of our revenues are used to run the utility – there is no profit in our rates. Our customer’s bills have remained below the benchmark of other utilities within the Northwest, including both PUDs and Investor-Owned Utilities.
Local Ownership & Control – Our customers are our owners. We are governed by a local three-person Commission that you elect. They must balance the needs of multiple stakeholders input and state and federal regulations, but in the end you have a voice in decisions made by the utility.
Excellent Customer Service – We take pride in serving our customers. We strive to not only meet but to exceed your expectations and this is reflected in the high customer satisfaction scores you routinely give us on our customer surveys.
Reliability – The number one priority is keeping the lights on. We achieve this through system planning and maintenance, including investment in infrastructure. If something does go wrong – lightning strikes, wind or equipment failure – our crews are on call around the clock to quickly restore your power.