PUD commission discusses potential impacts of regional issues
February 23, 2023
Much of the Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday was spent talking about how decisions made by Bonneville Power Administration and the state could potentially affect the district in the future.
General Manager Dan Kay said that the Bonneville Power Administration was receiving feedback from the Public Power Council, who advocates on behalf of utilities, on contract matters.
“Right now is a very active time to get our voices heard," Kay said. “It’s all about system size, allocation, high water mark, making sure the appropriate credits are making it into the contract.”
He later said that after July of this year when the BPA’s draft comes out, it will be harder to move those elements.
“For small utilities like ourselves, we have the same costs as every other utility, we just have fewer people to spread it to,” Kay said. “We are trying to maximize the lowest cost Tier 1 that we can get without having to buy too much Tier 1 because then you are paying for something that isn’t needed at the time.
He said that one issue that could affect the local PUD is a proposal from Bonneville regarding a small PUD credit for utilities less than five megawatts.
“We are just a little over five,” Kay said, “but we could be disproportionally affected, depending on which way that system size and allocation come out.”
After Kay and Commissioner Gene Healy advocated on behalf of Wahkiakum, the definition of a small PUD was changed to 4.9 to 5.1 megawatts.
“I was glad to see this,” Kay said.
Kay also talked about what was happening in Olympia, including conversations about a wildfire bill, working with the Department of Natural Resources to put together wildfire plans, and conversations about liability, as well as debates about preventing utility shutoffs in high heat events, which turned into a conversation about whether or not that should be a matter for local control.
Kay said the PUD was actively working on pole replacement and new customer hookups and specifically thanked three PUD employees, Bruce McClain, Jana Doumit, and Lia Sealund, after receiving a letter from a grateful customer.
McClain found water coming out of a customer’s facilities when he was checking out a high reading during meter reading. The customer was not home at the time, Kay said, but employees were tenacious in their efforts to contact the person, and afterwards, when homeowner’s insurance tried to deny the claim, they worked with the customer to gather some data.
Kay said there had been a few outages recently, but they were mostly caused by mother nature and were tree related. He has sent out a request for quotes for tree trimming and vegetation, and has had a few responses, and hopes to have someone to deal with those matters soon.
Commissioners then closed the public meeting and moved into a 50 minute executive session to consider site selection or the acquisition of real estate, purchase or lease, and possible litigation.