Celebrating 80 years of power to the Peninsulas


Irene Torres, KP News

Peninsula Light Company (PenLight) will host an Open House on Oct. 5 from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. to showcase its history and future.

In 1925, a small group of community leaders lived their vision, bringing electricity to Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula. At the time, pioneers had only a vague idea of how to accomplish the task of bringing electricity, a new commodity, to their rural communities. Several months of planning and preparation involved raising capital, recruiting technical expertise and choosing a form of government to oversee the utility. The community decided to form a cooperative run business.

Now nonprofit PenLight serves about 28,000 member homes and businesses, covering 112 square miles in Western Pierce County. The territory extends from the Tacoma Narrows (on the south) to the Kitsap County line (to the north), and forms the second largest cooperative in the state of Washington.

The Operations Department is responsible for building, operating and maintaining the entire power distribution system for PenLight. During the past five years, they undergrounded 43.6 miles of overhead cable and replaced 51.9 miles of aging underground cable. They storm-proofed over 504,240 feet of cable. Providing members with reliable power with a minimal amount of interruptions is their No. 1 priority. The annual goal is to replace 7 miles of aging underground cable and 10 miles of overhead line. The conversion of overhead lines to underground helps beautify neighborhoods. A Power Reliability program includes vegetation management (controlling trees under power lines), conversion of overhead lines to underground, replacement of aging underground cables, and automated outage reporting systems. All improvements are designed to ensure that members are provided with reliable and consistent power.

Member services also include the sale of surge suppression devices, generators and power backup equipment, energy-saving lighting, water heaters, or emergency preparedness kits. PenLight offers the highest quality, commercial / industrial grade products only to its members in order to maintain nonprofit status.

The spirit of the community founders of Peninsula Light Co. lives on in the co-op membership. The families Danforth, Rickert, Lodholm, Smythe, Knapp, Gold-man, Skansie, Hunt, Nichols, Uddenberg, Peyran, Alvestad, Vernhardson, Sisson, Thompson, Freeborn, Pearson, Welch, Olson and others are proud of PenLight’s accomplishments over the past 80 years. PenLight will honor the pioneers and the achievements of its cooperative business model at its Open House. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Tours of the facility will be offered, as will giveaways and door prizes.

“October is National Co-op Month —  what a perfect time to celebrate PenLight’s long history of member-ownership,” said PenLight CEO Rob Orton.  “I’m looking forward to meeting with members that can attend our Open House, and hope many will come out.”