Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 2001 NO. 3 > Apr 23 2001

1.  Public utility districts and port districts lack authority to sell “excess capacity” telecommunications services to “end users”.  2.  RCW 54.16.330 and RCW 53.08.370 preclude public utility districts and port districts, respectively, from offering telecommunications services or facilities to “end users” under any circumstances.  3.  The Interlocal Cooperation Act, RCW 39.34, does not authorize public utility districts or port districts, through interlocal agreement, to offer telecommunications services or facilities to other governmental units where the other unit is an “end user” of such services or facilities.

AGLO 1979 NO. 4 > Jan 17 1979

It would be a violation of Article VIII, § 7 of the state constitution for a municipal utility or public utility district to advance funds to its customers in order to enable them to purchase conservation materials notwithstanding a projected resulting benefit to utility customers, generally.

AGO 2008 NO. 5 > Mar 27 2008

1.  A county health board may lawfully order the fluoridation of a water supply system owned and operated by a public utility district and located within the county’s jurisdiction.  2.  Subject to constitutional requirements, a county health board may lawfully order a public utility district to fluoridate a discrete portion of the PUD’s water supply system.  3.  A county health board may enact a regulation requiring the fluoridation of water supply systems generally but, subject to constitutional requirements, a generally applicable regulation is not prerequisite to the issuance of enforcement orders on the subject.  4.  A county health board may lawfully order the fluoridation of a water supply system where the order is contingent upon a third-party source of funding for the fluoridation process.

AGLO 1982 NO. 7 > Apr 14 1982

(1) RCW 54.24.018 does not apply to PUD contractual obligations not involving issuance, by the district, of its own bonds.(2) If a PUD issues bonds in order to fund a prior contractual liability, the provisions of Wash. Const., Article VIII, § 6 (but not Article VII, § 2 or Article VIII, § 7) would be applicable.

AGO 2002 NO. 7 > Nov 25 2002

1.  When the commissioners of public utility districts draw new commissioner districts after a decessional census, they must include in their plan all the territory within any city which did not, at the time the public utility district was organized, own or operate all of the utilities which a public utility district is authorized to furnish; it is immaterial whether such a city of such description was later incorporated.  2.  If the commissioner district boundaries submitted by a the board of a public utility district do not include all the territory of the public utility district in the districting plan, the public utility district board of commissioners has the authority, and the duty, to submit a new plan correcting this infirmity.

AGO 2001 NO. 7 > Sep 17 2001

1. Article VIII, section 10 of the Washington Constitution and RCW 54.16.280 do not authorize public utility districts to finance projects that involve the installation or operation of pellet stoves, solar power systems, wind turbines, geothermal energy systems, or mini-hydroelectric systems on private property, for the reason that these projects would involve conversion from one energy source to another.

AGO 1995 NO. 7 > May 19 1995

A public utility district commissioner is entitled to receive only the compensation specified for the position in RCW 54.12.080, and is not entitled to any additional compensation for serving as president or secretary of the board of commissioners.

AGLO 1982 NO. 8 > Apr 20 1982

(1) The residents of the Town of McCleary who are registered voters therein remain entitled (under the facts of this opinion) to participate in the election of Grays Harbor Public Utility District No. 1 commissioners even though the town operates its own electrical system. (2) Property situated within the Town of McCleary may not be taxed to construct, purchase or support the public utility district's electrical system, so long as the town continues to own or operate its own electrical utility.

AGO 1978 NO. 13 > May 1 1978

(1) The provisions of Article VIII, § 7 of the Washington Constitution prohibit a city or public utility district from assisting its utility customers, generally, in the purchase of such conservation materials as insulation or storm windows from private suppliers by providing to the seller a guarantee of payment of part or all of the agreed upon purchase price for the conservation materials involved.  (2) The same provisions of Article VIII, § 7 of the Washington Constitution, however, do not prohibit a city or public utility district from itself purchasing and then later selling such conservation materials to its customers, generally, by means of installment contracts under which payment of the purchase price, plus a service charge, would be made by the purchasers on a periodic basis over a specified period of time.

AGO 1998 NO. 14 > Nov 30 1998

A public utility district has authority to sell and lease electrical fireplaces and other electrical appliances, and by contract to repair those appliances it sells or leases. A public utility district lacks authority to offer and provide Internet access, home security services, telephone services, cell phone and paging services, installation of telephone or cable equipment, and lacks authority to engage in the business of repairing electrical appliances other than those sold or leased by the district. Where proportionate to, and consistent with, the primary statutory purposes of the district, a public utility district may sell electrical power and may provide ancillary services such as vegetation management and power scheduling, to other electrical utilities located both within and without the State. A public utility district may sell or lease excess capacity on its fiber optic cable system to others, including private entities, assuming that the excess capacity has been acquired in amounts proportionate to the anticipated future needs of the district and not for the specific purpose of providing this service to others.