PUD received few responses to system consolidation survey
May 21, 2020
The Wahkiakum PUD Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday morning to listen to reports, discuss feedback from the community about their recent public hearing on a proposed financial consolidation, and authorize a contract with a new consultant for their broadband project.
Town of Cathlamet Council Member David Olson asked the PUD to help the town’s efforts in obtaining a grant to install a Level 3 Electric Vehicle charging station locally by determining how much it would cost to bring power to the Butler lot.
He also asked the PUD to consider endorsing the grant, asked if they might be interested in entering a maintenance contract for the unit, and invited them to participate in an oral interview if the town makes it to that phase of the grant process.
Olson also stated the town’s willingness to pass a resolution in support of the PUD’s possible plans to financially consolidate their systems, especially as it pertained to the PUD’s effort to bring broadband to the county.
According to General Manager Dave Tramblie, the PUD received a few responses from the community during their public hearing about the proposed financial consolidation of the utilities three systems--the electric system, the Puget Island Water System, and the Western Wahkiakum Water System. The public hearing was opened up to a period outside of their May 5 meeting in order to allow customers to respond by mail, email, or by calling the PUD office.
So far, Tramblie said, they had received two no votes, and three yeses.
“One customer said it was a prudent idea,” Tramblie said, “but he was concerned about how aggressive the PUD might be with broadband. He thought it would be best to take a slower path.”
Tramblie also noted that someone had expressed concern that the PUD would be receiving funds from one water system to support the other.
“That’s not what we’re doing,” Tramblie said.
Commissioner Dennis Reid said that a customer in Skamokawa had contacted him to express approval for the plan.
Skamokawa resident Kay Walters, who attended the meeting via phone offered her support for the consolidation as well.
“Hopefully we will get more input than what we have received,” Reid added.
In other news, Tramblie asked the commissioners to consider an adjustment to an electric system policy regarding a system development charge after he had received a few requests for smaller projects.
The charge is currently 12 percent of construction estimate costs with a minimum charge of $300, Tramblie said, but it seemed “a little excessive” for the requests the PUD had been receiving for electric service to docks and RV spots.
The charge was implemented to augment demand that is put on the system, Tramblie said, adding, “These little places aren’t really putting the demand like a new home does on our system.”
He asked commissioners to think about whether the PUD should focus the charge on new residences as opposed to locations like RV spots or docks.
Tramblie said that they had received eight requests for new electric services in the past five weeks, as well as a number of smaller requests for docks.
He also noted that the substations had been sprayed for vegetation control and a new recloser at Wahkiakum substation would be activated next month.
Commissioners authorized Tramblie to negotiate a contract with Steve Carson of Computer Line NW, LLC as a consultant for their broadband project.
“I think Mr. Carson has the background we need to understand and move this project forward,” Tramblie said.