The History of the Ferry County PUD

Electricity was first introduced to the town of Republic in 1901.

After contracts with three different companies failed to produce power, the Town Council granted Patrick H. Walsh the franchise to produce and transmit electricity for the area.

Walsh's company, The Republic Light & Power Company, built its generation plant on O'Brien Creek, about three miles northeast of Republic. With winter temperatures dropping to -30F, it was not possible for a hydroelectric system to operate year-round, so, during the months when the creek was flowing, it operated as a hydroelectric plant. During the winter months, power was supplied by a wood-fired steam generator. This method of producing electricity was used for over thirty years.

By 1933, the town of Republic had outgrown its Light and Power company. Power outages due to generation failures prompted residents to seek out a new source of electricity. P.D. Snyder of the San Poil Power and Light Company proposed a plan for a power plant which was driven by two large surplus diesel submarine engines. He was given a franchise to produce electricity in April 1933, but didn't receive the first engine until February 1934. The 350 horsepower submarine engine weighed over 18 tons and drove a 200 Kilowatt generator that weighed almost five and a half tons. It took almost a week to move both pieces of machinery into the old mill building which housed them. The San Poil Power and Light Company almost lost its franchise when power generation was unpredictable and slow in coming. It was saved when the Company purchased a second engine and generator. Snyder's generators did not begin to produce commercial power until June 1934. Then, three months later, an exhaust pipe on one of the generators caught the power plant's roof on fire and the building burned to the ground destroying all its contents.

The Republic Light and Power Company was forced to reopen to supply power to the town. However, the San Poil Power and Light Company ordered a new engine and generator and was producing power again by November 1. Both power companies continued to produce electricity until April 1936, when the San Poil Power and Light Company was forced to shut down due to financial hardships.

In 1935, plans had already been made to link Republic to the Washington Water Power lines located 40 miles west of Republic in Tonasket. Work on the project began in August 1936 and was completed in March 1937. This link was the first consistent source of electricity that the town of Republic ever had.

Soon after the transmission lines were put in place, a public utility district (P.U.D.) was created for Ferry County. In 1942, the Ferry County P.U.D. contacted the Rural Electrification Administration asking for a loan to buy the Republic Light and Power Company. The company was sold to the P.U.D. in August 1945. Soon after, the P.U.D. contracted with the Bonneville Power Administration and began taking power from the Northwest regional power grid.

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