The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD developing discounts for senior/disabled low income customers


February 22, 2018

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners continued to talk about a proposal to revise their senior/disabled low income discount, listened to reports, and discussed a technological advance that could potentially help the community.

Auditor Erin Wilson presented a proposal for the senior/disabled low income discount to the commissioners. The proposed program would provide discounts to the monthly basic charge. For instance, single people who qualify and make less than $12,060 would be given a 100 percent discount on the monthly basic charge. A three person household that makes between $20,421 and $25,525 would receive an 80 percent discount on the monthly basic charge.

“I would like to see it go a little further,” Commissioner Bob Jungers said. “I would like to see discounts on kilowatt hour usage as well.”

“I think we should push that as far as we can without hurting the utility,” Healy said.

Wilson agreed to continue to work on the proposal.

General Manager David Tramblie reported that the PUD will be replacing a 300 foot water main on the Covered Bridge in Grays River due to leaks. The pipe expands a great deal and Tramblie is looking for creative ways to address the problem.

Saturday’s winds brought a large limb down on an overhead circuit on Columbia Street in Cathlamet. It knocked out power in most of Cathlamet, Puget Island, and the east side of the county, according to Tramblie. The PUD was able to restore power within the hour.

Tramblie and the water crew met with an employee from Hamer Electric to talk about the hardware and software upgrades planned for the Western Wahkiakum Water System well site. Installation is tentatively planned for March 12.

Tramblie also shared that crews will soon begin tree trimming along SR 4.

Commissioner Dennis Reid reported that a bill requiring utilities to spend two percent of their gross sales on conservation had been scrapped.

“It died,” Reid said, “but we’re still going to have to watch that one. Its sponsor is going to try and bring it back. To get to two percent would take a lot of money out of our pockets, which means a lot of money out of our ratepayers’ pockets. It might not hurt larger utilities but it could hurt smaller PUDs. There is a lot of pushback on it because it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Commissioner Bob Jungers talked about a new technology that used a graphene membrane as a water filtration system.

“I don’t know if you are familiar with graphene,” Jungers said, “but it is a composition, a new molecular structure of carbon. They essentially make a membrane out of graphene and they pump water through it. They can take the most contaminated water and pump it through this one stage filtration system and it becomes potable water. If it comes to fruit it’s going to have significant impacts and applications here.”

He imagined using it to filter water from the Columbia River.

Reid expressed interest, and Healy agreed.

“We spent some time talking about, gosh, we wish back in the day they’d done this, that, or the other,” Healy said. “I’d like to leave a legacy where they aren’t cursing at us.”

Tramblie will look into it.

Finally, the Town of Cathlamet liaison Laurel Waller asked about contact procedures during an outage. Normally she would call the PUD if it happened during the week, but on Saturday, the message on the PUD phone instructed callers to call 911 in an emergency and caused some confusion.

“We have a new phone system,” Tramblie said. “There was a little misunderstanding on our recording and we corrected that.”


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