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Michael J. Sykes has a message of Thanksgiving for the Columbia River PUD's customers and supporters.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Michael J. SykesThis time of year is a time to reflect on the things you're thankful for.

Here in Columbia County, we have plenty for which to be grateful.

At Columbia River PUD, we are most thankful for our great customers. Without you, we would not exist.

On Nov. 18, 1939, 65 local residents met at Beaver Homes Grange Hall and initiated the formation of the PUD. The following November, CRPUD was voted into existence.

I am thankful for those residents getting together all those years ago. I'm also thankful for their patience, as it would be another 40-plus years before the PUD began providing power in this area.

Much has changed since 1939 — but one thing has remained the same: CRPUD would not exist without its tremendous customers.

I'm thankful that we were able to sit down with many of those tremendous customers for our Customer Appreciation Dinner this year. After being forced to hand boxes of spaghetti through car windows at the fairgrounds the last two years, it was my pleasure to be able to sit in the same room with all the folks who joined us last month. It was great to be able to see your smiling faces.

Thank you for attending our Customer Appreciation Dinner. It's an event we truly enjoy.

As a public utility in the Pacific Northwest, we are fortunate to be blessed with abundant low-cost hydropower. All the power we provide comes from the Bonneville Power Administration.

BPA provides that power at rates lower than those of Oregon's private utilities. That allows us to keep our electric costs well below the state and national averages. Our residential rates are 25% lower than the statewide average in Oregon and 38% lower than the national average. I think that's something we can all be thankful for.

Our utility and our employees do the best we can to help our local economy. We have held several fundraisers this year to support local nonprofits like the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, United Way of Columbia County, the Amani Center, and many more. We're grateful to be able to partner with agencies that have such an impactful mission.

As the general manager, I am grateful for our outstanding staff and a fantastic board. I'm thankful to see the number of our employees who are active and engaged in the community. Our employees donate their time to coach youth sports, to volunteer with service organizations, and to do their part to make this a wonderful place to live.

As I stated earlier, there is plenty to be grateful for in this community. Thank you for helping make it that way, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you.

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


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