Wahkiakum PUD’s new substation is now in operation, Wahkiakum PUD commissioners learned at a Tuesday meeting.
Manager Dave Tramblie told the commissioners that the substation’s transformer was first energized two weeks ago.
“We put load on it a week ago Friday. Last Tuesday we put the Puget Island and East County feeders on it and it’s been holding since then without any glitches,” said Tramblie.
The Elochoman and Skamokawa circuits will still be fed off the old transformer, which remains in operation at the Jacobson Road site.
Tramblie and PUD Auditor Erin Wilson are working to complete the final financial reporting for the project, which should be finished by the commission’s next meeting.
Commissioner Dennis Reid asked Tramblie for a rough estimate on the final figure. Tramblie said although the project was projected to cost $3 million, it looked like it will be somewhere around $2.5 million instead.
The utility borrowed $1.2 million to pay for the construction. Tramblie said his intention is to make an extra payment of $200,000 towards the principal of the loan in addition to the first regularly scheduled payment of $125,000 due to the county on June 1.
Reid suggested awarding Tramblie a one-time bonus to mark completion of the project.
“It’s the biggest project we’ve done and we saved a lot of money,” he said, noting that the project had stayed $50,000 under budget.
“With the financing package that was put together, I figure we’re saving at least $48,000 a year in interest."
Commission Chair Bob Jungers asked the PUD’s attorney, Tim Hanigan, if he was aware of a precedent. Wahkiakum PUD has not given managers a bonus in the past, but other utilities do, responded Hanigan.
“What are the pros and cons,” Jungers questioned of Hanigan. Hanigan offered that a one-time expense would not be a raise to the manager’s salary but cautioned that public opinion may not be entirely favorable.
“There will be some people that don’t like it, but it was a job well done as far as I’m concerned. We saved a lot of money,” countered Reid.
Jungers asked him if he had a figure in mind. Reid said he had thought possibly $2000 or so, and added that while he attends next week’s Washington PUD Association meeting in Olympia, he will ask commissioners from around the state about practices at their utilities.
“Had this thing gone south, we know who we would have been looking at. That needs to be in the equation,” commented Commissioner Gene Healy.
The commissioners will revisit discussion of the bonus during their next meeting in two weeks.