The PUD History

pud fairSince its formation was authorized by a vote of the people in November of 1940, Clallam PUD has endeavored to supply the residents of Clallam County with reliable and affordable water and electric services. In 1990 Clallam PUD was authorized to offer sewage system services. In 2002 Clallam PUD added a fourth utility, high-speed telecommunications, for its own benefit and public access. Clallam PUD serves 30,000 customers with electric service, 4,500 with water connections and has offices in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks, & Clallam Bay/Sekiu. Contact Us.

The Beginning

The Washington State public power program is unique in our nation. To keep essential water and power services from the sway of political struggles in 1930 the voters approved Public Initiative No. 1:


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1940s - Growing A Public Utility

In 1940 the voters of Clallam County decided that their electric and water service should be publicly owned and operated. Clifford Cowling was the first PUD Manager, at a salary of $50 per month. Max Schmuck, George Ulster, and Arthur Reynolds were the first PUD Commissioners. The first meeting of the Board was at the Angeles Cooperative Creamery on December 7, 1940.

Early yearsThe District's first electric operation began in 1943, in Forks, when the District purchased the assets of the Olympic Public Service Corporation. The purchase included a 250-kilowatt-diesel generating plant and distribution facilities that served the areas of Forks, LaPush, Tyee and Beaver, for $80,000. The generator was inadequate for the growing electrical needs of the areas, and the rate of 7.28 cents per kilowatt-hour was high. The generator was replaced and construction of new distribution lines followed. Today's residential rate remains well below that 1943 rate.

The District moved to acquire the properties of Puget Sound Power and Light Company, located in the eastern part of the county. A legal battle ensued. The struggle for acquisition was ultimately appealed to the Supreme Court. On December 1, 1943, a jury verdict confirmed the purchase by the PUD at a price of $600,000.

Transition from private enterpsrise to public utility was far from friendly. When the PUD took over operations at 11:00 AM on July 15, 1944, the Puget Sound Power and Light employees disappeared without notice that afternoon. The new PUD Manager had to use employees from his own personal business to keep service going.

In 1945, the District began providing water in the Gales Addition area. The power was extended around Port Angeles, Forks, and La Push. Plans were developed to serve the Lake Crescent and Barnes Cove areas. The Elwha early yearsDams were a valuable source of energy that the District used if the feed from Puget in the East was interrupted. However, the only practical solution for the need for more power was to bring federal power from the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

On November 1, 1949, power from the Bonneville Power Administration came to Port Angeles via a new 115,000-volt transmission line from Shelton.

This allowed the PUD to expand its system to Palo Alto Road, Camp Hayden Road, and Freshwater Bay - totaling 14 miles. In each case, the customers cleared the rights-of-way and dug the pole holes.

The PUD also supplied power to Port Angeles City Light via its 69 KV system until the mid-50s when there was a dispute over charges and City Light decided to negotiate its own contract with BPA.

During this time the District adopted a slogan that appeared on the side of the PUD line trucks - Your Electric Service. It was based on the PUD concept of assuring customers of their stage in the system and the right to expect excellent service.

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1950s - More Power For The West End

In the mid-50s, the PUD contracted with Power Line Erectors, Inc. to build a 69 KV line from Port Angeles to the initial West End Terminal at Tyee Substation. To help reduce costs and take advantage of the local cedar, the District purchased a pole shaver and supplied approximately 600 poles for the line.

Forks 1952On July 19, 1955, a fire in Neah Bay destroyed the existing diesel power plant and cottage belonging to Neah Bay Light & Power Company. Nearly the entire town was without power. The PUD worked with the Navy to restore power the next day with a 600 kw generator moored to a barge and connected to the 2,400 volt Neah Bay distribution circuit.

This fire, along with previous negotiations, lead to the PUD purchasing all assets of Neah Bay Power & Light Company and Clallam Bay Light and Power Company for a total of $75,000 in August, 1955.

In 1956 and 1957 a 69 KV transmission line was completed in three phases between Sappho and Sekiu, Sekiu to Neah Bay, and from the Forks Substation to the Tyee Substation.

Clallam PUD truck
Clallam PUD truck
Your Electric Service

In 1957 Clallam County and 17 other PUDs joined to form the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS). The District still receives annual payments for its share of the Packwood Hydroelectric Project undertaken and completed by WPPSS. Later, WPPSS generated electricity using steam from the federal government's nuclear reactor at Hanford, the largest civilian nuclear power plant in the U.S.

To meet future energy needs, WPPSS decided to build five nuclear power plants at Hanford and Satsop in Grays Harbor County. Most of the projects were never completed due to cost escalation and increased regulation. The Supreme Court found that the District, along with other participants, did not have authority to enter into some of the agreements. The District withdrew its membership from WPPSS in 1984 with a net loss of $2,259,034 in 1988.

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1960s - Expansion

In this decade, the PUD completed two major water projects. Wells were drilled in the Sekiu-Clallam Bay area, using the Hoko River as a source; and existing wooden water mains in Gales Addition were replaced. Electric service was extended to Allen's Mill south of Forks; and this additional load, plus West End growth resulted in BPA building a 115KV line to a new BPA substation at Sappho.

Clallam PUD Substation # 1
Clallam PUD Substation # 1

From 1963 to 1969 construction was completed on the new warehouse and crew headquarters near the Port Angeles airport, the Forks office, the Port Angeles office, and an office and warehouse in Sequim.

In 1969 the District entered negotiations to purchase 500 acres of land on the Miller Peninsula for possible development of a nuclear power plant. Many residents of the Sequim-Blyn area did not appreciate this news. Upon further analysis, the seismic risks of the site made it inappropriate for its intended use.

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1970s - Rapid Growth, Technology & Conservation

As the 1970's grew near the District began to employ new technology. Computerized customer billing, accounting, payroll, voucher distribution, and engineering data for system design were installed.

energyA contract for nearly one million dollars was awarded in 1972 to install a treatment plant, intake structure, reservoir, and a distribution system for the Fairview Water System. The project has been expanded considerably over the years and continues to use Morse Creek as one of its water sources.

Significant conservation efforts started for the PUD in 1973 when an extremely dry winter limited hydro generation for the Northwest. Clallam County PUD developed a program called "Sav-A-Watt." The program encouraged customers to reduce electricity by limiting hot water use, turning off nonessential lighting, and limiting heater use.

Utility services escalated at a rapid pace. The first Treasurer was appointed and the Accounting and Data Processing Departments were formalized. Both Sequim and Forks increased staffing and an Operations Superintendent was hired for the western part of the county.

In 1975 the District joined the leading edge of technology with the purchase of microfilm equipment from Eastman Kodak for its records processing. In the late 70s, the District purchased its first mainframe computer. There were many system improvements. Local Utility District No. 3 water system was completed, several new substations were added, and the Port Angeles office was expanded.

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1980s - Community Outreach

In 1980 the District was one of ten utilities chosen to participate in he first BPA pilot weatherization program. The Conservation Resources Department was established for residential and commercial conservation incentive programs. A Senior Advisory Committee, composed of volunteers from the community, worked with staff in 1982 to develop a discount program for low-income senior citizen customers. A discount program for low-income disabled customers was instituted in 1990.

In 1985, a new office building was dedicated in Sekiu, and West End customers no longer had to be served out of the Clallam Bay warehouse facility. A new underwater cable was installed in Lake Crescent in 1988.

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1990s - New Services

On November 5, 1990, the voters of Clallam County authorized the PUD to offer sewage system services to its customers. In 1993 the District began operating the Sunshine Acres On-Site Sewage Disposal System at Diamond Point, and is in the process of acquiring the View Ridge Sewage Disposal System in the Deer Park Road area east of Port Angeles.

Clallam County has also authorized the District to monitor individual septic systems which have failed and whose funding for repair and maintenance comes from a grant received by the County.

Electricity through copper wireIn 1991, the District was one of eight utilities to commence negotiations with Bonneville Power Administration to form the Conservation and Renewable Energy System joint operating agency. The purpose of CARE is to acquire electric conservation and small renewable generation resources for use by its members and/or other participating utilities or for sale to Bonneville.

The Water Department continued its growth with the construction of Local Utility District No. 10 in 1991 that serves Greywolf Elementary School, the Port of Port Angeles Industrial Park, and residences on both sides of Highway 101 in the Carlsborg area. It was the first District project financed locally with the issuance of $625,989 in minibonds.

In 1994 the District completed two substations in the Sequim area - Dungeness on Cays and Hogback Roads and Evergreen on Evans Road and Old Olympic Highway.

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2000 - Transformation to High-Speed Digital Communications The "Fourth Utility"

In 2000, the State Legislature authorized PUDs to sell wholesale telecommunications services. The District built a 24-mile redundant fiber optic link between Port Angeles and Sequim to serve its own operations and to offer broadband connections to the public. Broadband will allow business and critical services, such as fire, law enforcement and healthcare to operate more efficiently and effectively. Sometimes called "the fourth utility" fiber optic cable connections are another service that the PUD will manage for the public good. See Broadband pages for current news and rollouts of telecommunications services.

Fiber Optics in HandTo keep pace with a rapidly developing digital world, Clallam PUD transformed its own operations to run on a connected network, with Internet telephony and centralized internal communications. The District will continue to explore new technologies to better serve the public and manage internal operations.


The history of the PUD is evolving. We are a utility owned by you, taxpayers and residents of Clallam County. How do you think we can best serve you? Send your ideas to

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