Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD begins union negotiations, plans Feb. 21 meeting in Rosburg

(Editor's note: Our original headline had the incorrect date for a PUD meeting planned in Rosburg to consider a time for meetings in the Westend. The correct date is Feb. 21)

The Wahkiakum County Public Utility District board met Tuesday to conduct routine business.

General Manager Dave Tramblie received a letter from the union which opens contract negotiation. An initial meeting may be held in mid-February, he said.

The board made plans to hold their next regular meeting at the Rosburg Hall on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. and to decide after that what the best time for a meeting on the far side of the county might be.

During his report, Commissioner Dennis Reid advised that a group of Mid-Columbia PUDs have formed a group to begin to lobby for changes to the Columbia River Treaty which was signed in 1964. The treaty requires Bonneville Power Administration to pay $500 million per year to Canada in consideration of dams built on the upper Columbia River for flood control. The contract ends in 2024, but requires 10 years notice to renegotiate.

The PUDs feel changes in fish regulation have changed the economic benefit since the treaty was signed, Reid said. “It affects all of us when BPA has to pay $500 million,” he said.

Commissioner Gene Healy reported that Energy NW is discussing ways to improve the balance of power load to generation, hoping to slow the construction of transmission lines. Tramblie noted that the regional industry hopes to monitor load locally, rather than being part of a larger entity.

“Transmission lines are expensive (to build) and really hard to get through regulating agencies nowadays,” Healy said.

Tramblie said he had met with Town of Cathlamet Public Works Superintendent David Vik about the pending Puget Island Water System contract. “We had an amicable meeting and it appears we’ll be able to come up with a solution, hopefully this week,” he said.

Auditor Erin Wilson plans to add the utility’s mission statement onto the remaining stock of stationery, and brought a sample to the board at the commissioners’ request. She has added “The mission of Public Utility District No. 1 of Wahkiakum county is to provide the most reliable electric and water service at the most reasonable cost along with quality customer service to the District’s ratepayers,” in small type at the bottom of the page. The PUD will add the text rather than having new stationery printed in order to save cost.

Commissioner Dennis Reid recognized PUD employees for their work in the community. In setting up a youth basketball game, Reid had occasion to work with PUD employee Lia Sealund of the Wahkiakum Community Network. He also said employee Shane Pfenniger was the first to arrive with a fire extinguisher at a fire at Bruce Holland’s home.

“It’s good that our people are involved in community things,” Reid said.

Reid reported that various members at the Washington Public Utility District Association had completed negotiations with employee unions.

“They are all dealing with the issues we are,” he said.

Reid noted that some had increased co-pays to decrease health costs, some contracts required employees to pay up to 10 per cent of the premium, and several have signed contracts with three year stepped wage increases.

Board members asked that preliminary minutes be emailed, rather than sent through regular post, for their review.


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