ORS 261.305
General powers of district

People’s utility districts shall have power:


To have perpetual succession.


To adopt a seal and alter it at pleasure.


To sue and be sued, to plead and be impleaded.


To acquire and hold, including by lease-purchase agreement, real and other property necessary or incident to the business of the districts, within or without, or partly within or partly without, the district, and to sell or dispose of that property; to acquire, develop and otherwise provide for a supply of water for domestic and municipal purposes, waterpower and electric energy, or electric energy generated from any utility, and to distribute, sell and otherwise dispose of water, waterpower and electric energy, within or without the territory of such districts.


To acquire, own, trade, sell or otherwise transfer renewable energy certificates.


To exercise the power of eminent domain for the purpose of acquiring any property, within or without the district, necessary for the carrying out of the provisions of this chapter.


To borrow money and incur indebtedness; to issue, sell and assume evidences of indebtedness; to refund and retire any indebtedness that may exist against or be assumed by the district or that may exist against the revenues of the district; to pledge any part of its revenues; and to obtain letters of credit or similar financial instruments from banks or other financial institutions. Except as provided in ORS 261.355 (Procedure for issuance and sale of revenue bonds) and 261.380 (Refunding district indebtedness), no revenue or general obligation bonds shall be issued or sold without the approval of the electors. The board of directors may borrow from banks or other financial institutions such sums as the board of directors deems necessary or advisable. No indebtedness shall be incurred or assumed except for the development, purchase and operation of electric utility facilities or for the purchase of electricity, electrical capacity or renewable energy certificates.


To exercise the powers otherwise granted to districts by ORS 271.390 (Lease or purchase of real estate by public body or council of governments).


To levy and collect, or cause to be levied and collected, subject to constitutional limitations, taxes for the purpose of carrying on the operations and paying the obligations of the district as provided in this chapter.


To make contracts, to employ labor and professional staff, to set wages in conformance with ORS 261.345 (Employment of labor), to set salaries and provide compensation for services rendered by employees and by directors, to provide for life insurance, hospitalization, disability, health and welfare and retirement plans for employees, and to do all things necessary and convenient for full exercise of the powers herein granted. The provision for life insurance, hospitalization, disability, health and welfare and retirement plans for employees shall be in addition to any other authority of people’s utility districts to participate in those plans and shall not repeal or modify any statutes except those that may be in conflict with the provision for life insurance, hospitalization, disability, health and welfare and retirement plans.


To enter into contracts with any person, any public or private corporation, the United States Government, the State of Oregon, or with any other state, municipality or utility district, and with any department of any of these, for carrying out any provisions of this chapter.


To enter into agreements with the State of Oregon or with any local governmental unit, utility, special district or private or public corporation for the purpose of promoting economic growth and the expansion or addition of business and industry within the territory of the people’s utility district. Before spending district funds under such an agreement, the board of directors shall enter on the written records of the district a brief statement that clearly indicates the purpose and amount of any proposed expenditure under the agreement.


To fix, maintain and collect rates and charges for any water, waterpower, electricity or other commodity or service furnished, developed or sold by the district.


To construct works across or along any street or public highway, or over any lands which are property of this state, or any subdivision thereof, and to have the same rights and privileges appertaining thereto as have been or may be granted to cities within the state, and to construct its works across and along any stream of water or watercourse. Any works across or along any state highway shall be constructed only with the permission of the Department of Transportation. Any works across or along any county highway shall be constructed only with the permission of the appropriate county court. Any works across or along any city street shall be constructed only with the permission of the city governing body and upon compliance with applicable city regulations and payment of any fees called for under applicable franchise agreements, intergovernmental agreements under ORS chapter 190 or contracts providing for payment of such fees. The district shall restore any such street or highway to its former state as near as may be, and shall not use the same in a manner unnecessarily to impair its usefulness.


To elect a board of five directors to manage its affairs.


To enter into franchise agreements with cities and pay fees under negotiated franchise agreements, intergovernmental agreements under ORS chapter 190 and contracts providing for the payment of such fees.


To take any other actions necessary or convenient for the proper exercise of the powers granted to a district by this chapter and by section 12, Article XI of the Oregon Constitution. [Amended by 1953 c.627 §2; 1957 c.334 §1; 1979 c.558 §19; 1985 c.474 §1; 1987 c.245 §4; 1993 c.97 §1; 1995 c.333 §15; 2003 c.802 §76; 2007 c.301 §38; 2007 c.895 §9]

Notes of Decisions

Purpose stated in both resolution and election notice tracked this section and ORS 261.355, granting powers to people’s utility districts, that purpose was legal, and resolution and notice were valid on their face. Pac. Power & Light v. Emerald P.U.D., 58 Or App 21, 646 P2d 1360 (1982), Sup Ct review denied

Participants’ Agreement between PUDs and WPPSS was not “borrowing” for purposes of this section. DeFazio v. WPPSS, 296 Or 550, 679 P2d 1316 (1984)

This section grants public utility districts authority to acquire existing hydroelectric facilities either by contract or by eminent domain. Emerald PUD v. PP&L, 302 Or 256, 729 P2d 552 (1986)

Power of public utility district to condemn existing hydroelectric facilities already producing power for public consumption arises by necessary implication. Emerald PUD v. PP&L, 302 Or 256, 729 P2d 552 (1986)

Chapter 261

Notes of Decisions

People’s utility district does not possess exclusive right to provide service within boundaries of district. Douglas Electric Cooperative v. Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, 164 Or App 251, 991 P2d 1060 (1999), Sup Ct review denied

Atty. Gen. Opinions

County clerk’s and county governing body’s duty to determine validity of voters’ petition to form people’s utility district, (1980) Vol 40, p 367

Law Review Citations

7 EL 315 (1977); 16 WLR 549 (1979)

Last accessed
May. 15, 2020