Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

PUD crew studies needs of fleet

The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners heard a report on the fleet as part of long range planning, and an update on other PUD matters when they met Tuesday.

Several employees at the PUD were involved in the collaborative project on the fleet. They considered the size of the fleet, determined which assets were critical to the mission of the PUD, and looked for strengths and vulnerabilities. They also established a replacement schedule for the future.

“Where are we at, where do we need to be, not where we want to be,” General Manager Dan Kay said, “focusing on safety, reliability and cost?”

They looked at everything that had wheels, from excavator to digger derrick.

“We are in a business in providing service, our product happens to be electricity, but when we need to be ready to go, we need to be ready to go,” Kay said.

Electric Foreman Shane Pfenniger suggested that the PUD hang on to their old trucks when they acquire new ones as back up. And while other PUDs employ mechanics, there are members of the Wahkiakum PUD electric and water crews who are adept at maintaining their equipment as well.

“We like to run them to the end if we can,” Pfenniger said.

Kay said the crew went up to Lewis County PUD to see their fleet and to gain insight on how Wahkiakum might move forward.

“Their trucks are all custom made,” Pfenniger said. “They are sort of a little bit over the top. We want the basics, but there are things that might help us do the job more efficiently. It was really enlightening. They basically have a machine for every occasion.”

The conversation shifted to garage space and where to park extra vehicles if the PUD were to keep their old equipment as back up, as well as where to keep other materials.

The long range plan for the fleet includes developing a capital budgeting and fleet replacement fund, hardening the fleet with spare/backup equipment, continuing to monitor and adapt to utilization, train employees to do preventative maintenance, and monitor and react to transportation electrification.

Kay said that the state passed some heat related work laws for when temperatures get above 89 degrees. During the warmer weather last week, the PUD focused on matters closer to home including substation inspections, weed control at the substations and the PUD campus, the gutters, pressure washing, etc.

Kay showed the commissioners a valve that had failed and was replaced by the water crew as part of their maintenance, which led to a quick discussion about a future plan to map the water and electric systems.

The PUD learned that they had made it through the second round for potential funding for a water project on Puget Island.

“The third round is congress approving a budget,” Kay said, “so if they approve that budget, you know what we are doing next summer.”

Kay also said they had spoken with a customer on Puget Island who was receptive to water samples being drawn on their property.

“We’re excited,” he said. “They are excited too, to know the condition of the water.”

The PUD is working on their existing vegetation policy.

“We’re going to propose to tighten it up and bring it to the commission,” Kay said. “A little more comprehensive vegetation plan. We’ve been out trimming trees where we’ve had some fires and we need to tighten that up.”

Auditor Erin Wilson said that she had reported arrearages that were due on March 31, 2022 that had accrued from March 2020 to December 2021 to the Department of Commerce in hopes of funding. Wahkiakum PUD customers owed $41,151 for electric and $6,500 for water.

“We don’t know what funding might look like if we get any, Wilson said.

The public meeting was closed for an executive session to review the performance of a public employee.


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