Representatives from Pacific County PUD attended Tuesday morning’s Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners meeting to share their experience and knowledge in setting up a telecom system.
Pacific County PUD has two offices, one in Long Beach and the other in Raymond. Initially, they needed a connection that would give both offices access to information in real time. They turned to fiber optics, eventually extending the infrastructure to each of their 10 substations. With the excess capacity, they decided to allow retailers to provide service to customers.
“We try to do all of this in house,” IT Manager Marc Wilson said. “As a PUD you are already set up. We know how to dig holes and string wires. We didn’t ramp up in personnel.”
Commissioner Dennis Reid was concerned that without the electrical tie in, there would be no way that the system could pay for itself.
“You are going to have to make the cost to the retailer so high that they aren’t going to want to use it,” he said.
“The way these gentlemen have approached this is to build the infrastructure primarily as a tool of the electrical system,” Commissioner Robert Jungers said. “It would be a little more difficult for us to do that because we don’t have a lot of capable substations. We could do it with the idea of eventually setting up an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system off of it, especially an AMI system that would give us the opportunity to control time and use in peak demand times. That could be a way of rationalizing the electrical to absorb the expense.”
With the possibility making improvements to the electrical system by incorporating the fiber optics into the PUD’s existing infrastructure, Reid became more hopeful.
With PUD as a common bond, Miller and Wilson will remain available to the commissioners for future conversations and advice. In the meantime commissioners plan to talk with other counties to assess their experiences as well.
Grays River resident Joel Fitts was invited to the meeting by Jungers to address a grievance with the commissioners and General Manager Dave Tramblie involving a broken water line and subsequent water loss on his property.
According to Fitts, he had notified the PUD that he and his wife would be out of town for three months. While out of town he received a call about a leak. He asked the PUD to turn off the water, and his son-in-law made the necessary repairs and replaced the pressure adjusting valve that had broken during a recent freeze. The water was not turned back on. He claimed that the system was put in place by the PUD some time ago.
“I do not believe I am liable for this,” Fitts said. “It was a weather related issue and a part failure, not anything that anybody did on my property.”
Jungers asked Fitts how he might write a policy to address the issue fairly.
“You see what kind of can of worms we would open by ignoring our policy?” Jungers asked.
“Sometimes this is frustrating to the recipient of the policy. We are a policy board. We are bound by the policies that have been written before us and the policies that we have written.”
Fitts didn’t agree.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with policy. It’s a failed unit,” Fitts said, “It’s part of the meter assembly.”
Jungers argued that it wasn’t part of the meter assembly.
Tramblie asked Fitts to get in touch with him.
In other business, Tramblie reported that the PUD is installing a conductor on Oneida Road this week and next. The water department is taking steps to improve security to the water system.
Tramblie reported that he learned at a recent meeting with the Department of Health that a daily test of chlorine residual levels would now be required for water on Puget Island. He also reiterated a desire to send a spare transformer to surplus.
“I see it as more of a liability. We have to maintain the equipment that is not on line,” Tramblie said.
The commissioners will consider the move to surplus.
Travel was approved for Doug Condon to attend a class on current terms, trends and technologies in leak detection in Longview and for Shane Pfenniger to attend a free course on thermography for their new infrared camera in Beaverton.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 6 at 8:30 a.m. in the PUD meeting room.