Michael J. Sykes shares important information about Columbia River PUD and upcoming events.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Michael J. SykesThe first week of October is Public Power Week, and we are excited to celebrate it with you. We have a few different events going on that I hope to see you at.

After COVID forced us to turn our Customer Appreciation Dinner into a drive-through affair, the last two years, this year, it returns as an in-person event. I'd like to invite you to attend.

The dinner will be at the Columbia County Fairgrounds Pavilion on Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The Deer Island Grange will once again prepare their delicious spaghetti.

This is a free event, although you must have a ticket to attend.

Please visit our office in Deer Island to pick up a ticket. We have a limited number of tickets available.

We will be hosting an open house throughout Public Power Week, Oct. 3 to Oct. 6. Stop by our office during the week to say hi and enjoy a cookie and cup of coffee.

To close out the week, we are partnering with Emmert Motors and St. Helens Auto Center to host an Electric Vehicle (EV) Ride and Drive event. This will be held at the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce building, at the intersection of Highway 30 and Columbia Boulevard in St. Helens. It will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7.

This is an opportunity for you to test-drive EVs and ask industry experts about them. There will be a variety of EV models available to see up close.

You might be wondering, what is Public Power Week? Put simply, a celebration of public power.

Columbia River PUD is one of more than 2,000 community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities in the United States. Together with these other public power entities, we provide electricity to almost 50 million Americans.

We want to educate the next generation of CRPUD customers on the benefits of public power. We are proud to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable power to our friends and neighbors in Columbia County.

Because we are owned by you, the customers, we are here to serve you, not far-away investors. We are governed by a locally elected board of directors to deliver quality services at the lowest practical cost.

When we began serving customers in 1984, our board pledged to charge rates at least 5% lower than those charged by Portland General Electric, which served the area previously. In 2021, our rates were 36% lower than PGE's.

We are proud to be able to continue exceeding that promise, which has kept $146 million in Columbia County since 1984.

Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.

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