PUD considering Western Wahkiakum maintenance costs
At Tuesday morning’s Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioner’s meeting, Customer Service Representative Lia Sealund brought the commissioners up to date on the lighting rebate program, General Manager Dave Tramblie talked about the Western Wahkiakum Water System and Line Crew Foreman Shane Pfenniger showed off the new infrared camera.
In 2008, Sealund helped launch the PUD’s first lighting project. The goal was to begin to phase out incandescent bulbs by distributing a more efficient alternative, the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL).
“It was well received,” Sealund said.
She established a collection site for the CFLs at the office after she noticed that there was nowherein Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties to recycle the bulbs.
“We don’t have a lot of money for energy efficiency,” Sealund said. “With the precious dollars we have I was in complete support of focusing on the envelope of the building, like insulation and windows. We’ve done quite well investing our funds in that direction. So I haven’t put a lot of effort into the lighting energy efficiency opportunities.”
However, Sealund has been educating herself on the subject and is beginning to feel more confident in making the shift.
In 2010, the PUD Lighting Rebate Program partnered with a church that wanted to change out all the lighting in the building. This year, a local contractor wanted to replace the lighting in his warehouse. Upon request from the PUD, Bonneville sent an engineer to advise the contractor on his project.
“It offered a tremendous amount of savings,” Sealund said. “The kilowatt savings were fabulous.”
Two more similar projects have been completed since then. However, rebate amounts and kilowatt hour savings are dependent upon several variables and each project showed different degrees of savings.
LED bulbs and CFLs are eligible for rebates for residential projects, according to Sealund.
General Manager Dave Tramblie shared some grim news about the western Wahkiakum water system.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of reducing our losses,” Tramblie said. “We’ve put in some bypass meters that are helping the crew identify where we have issues and when. We’ve got better communication now as far as how much we’re pumping a day at the well site and how much we’re pumping at the Deep River pumping station. We’re kind of getting a good gauge for what normal looks like. It helps us when we see increased pumping levels.”
“Obviously good work is being done,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said.
Tramblie shared an improvement schedule prepared by consulting engineers, Gray & Osborne, Inc., with the commissioners. One project on the schedule was which currently includes a fish hatchery. Tramblie fears that the fish hatchery may close and is hesitant to move forward on the project.
“Even if I wanted to do that project, I don’t have the money,” Tramblie said. “My priority is going to be replacing the inlet and outlet piping on Malone Road and the Deep River reservoirs.”
Tramblie's concerns ran even deeper for the western Wahkiakum water system.
“We have 36 miles of old pipe that is about 37 years old on the westend,” Tramblie said. “If we could replace ½ mile of pipe a year, we will have replaced all of our pipe in 72 years. And the last section replaced would be 109 years old.”
With variable costs, Tramblie estimated a particular one and a half mile project would cost $200,00.
“That’s probably isn’t a good number to use for an average, Tramblie said, “but it has shock value to it and that’s based on all the variables on that particular project.”
“That’s a lot of money that’s got to come from some where. If in fact we are going to try to come up with a way to replace that system over time, which I think you are in agreement that we don’t have much choice.”
Tramblie will investigate options for financing the project.
Shane Pfenniger presented the new infrared camera to the commissioners. The camera shows hot spots and has already provided plenty of new projects for the electrical crew and has allowed them to work proactively, which should reduce the number of outages in the county. There is hope that the camera will be able to alert the PUD to leaks in the water system as well.
“We’ve probably saved ten outages so far,” Pfenniger said.
“Looks to me like the payback on that will be fairly short,” Reid said. “When you figure overtime that won’t be paid, plus the reliability factor, it’s going to turn out to be one of your better purchases. It’s money spent that we can feel good about.”
Travel was approved for Doug Condon to attend a class in Longview in June and for Auditor Erin Wilson to attend a conference in Yakima in September.
The next PUD Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 8:30 a.m.