PUD board addresses variety of concerns


December 23, 2021

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners approved a pole attachment agreement, a new Clean Energy Implementation Plan, which is posted on their website, and listened to reports from the general manager and the auditor, as well as a presentation from Stacey Lane of the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce about activities and other goals planned for the coming year.

During public comment, Town Council Member David Olson said the wi-fi project planned for the Cathlamet downtown corridor should go live by the new year, if not by Christmas.

“Cathlamet is going to have the best, and one of the few public wi-fi systems in the entire lower Columbia, and it would not have been possible without you, the chamber, and Port 1,” Olson said. “I thank you very much for that.”

General Manager Dan Kay said there hadn’t been an unscheduled outage since November 15 and that the PUD was prepping for winter weather. He said they were still getting one or two inquiries about new service every week, but they were focusing on maintenance and improvements.

He said a leak had been found in the Skamokawa Water System.

“It is in a wet area, with a high water table, and not the most easy to get to repair, but we will wait till it dries out and we will get out there and attack that,” Kay said.

He also said the electrical crew was finishing up a project on Ingalls Road, and would soon turn their focus to system improvement projects.

Auditor Erin Wilson said that more than 40 customers were at least 90 days in arrears a few weeks ago, but as of Monday, the number had gone down to 31.

“Our customer service staff work really hard to refer our customers who need help to agencies who can help them,” Wilson said. “People are getting help.”

Wilson said the PUD’s revenues for setting up electric service for new construction more than doubled last year’s totals between the months of January to November: $433,732 in 2021 compared to $187,944 in 2020. As for water service for new construction, revenues rose to $121,367 almost three times what the PUD drew in for the same months in 2020, $46,909.

This also meant the PUD spent a lot more money on transformers and inventory for the electric and water systems.

The PUD installed more than 60 new electric services this year, Wilson said, and more than 15 new water services. The PUD also completed pole testing for nearly half the poles in the system, replaced 1,200 feet of water pipe on the Puget Island Water System, 5,100 feet of water pipe in the Western Wahkiakum Water System, and 500 feet of pipe in the Skamokawa Water System.

After her report, there was some continued discussion about how the PUD might approach a project to expand water in the Westend.

“We have a finite amount of resources in management and in management time and effort and those resources belong to approximately 3,000 constituents,” Commissioner Bob Jungers said to the new general manager. “I realize ratepayers, meters, and constituents don’t break down in the exact same demographic, but as far as I’m concerned, every citizen in this county is our constituent, and so they deserve a fair distribution of your time and efforts. I think chasing a $5 million grant or $5 million loan to serve one percent of the county is an uneven allocation of our resources.”

“I think our investment in effort to chase dollars we may never see, it needs to be tempered, moderated, accordingly,” he added.

The board was reorganized for 2022, with Jungers as president, Commissioner Dennis Reid as vice-president, and Commissioner Gene Healy as secretary.


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