Recap of the Nov. 14 commission meeting

Commissioners back continued funding for fiber build out

After months of study and deliberations, receiving feedback from customers and recommendations from staff, Grant PUD’s board of commissioners came to a preliminary consensus on how to fund fiber expansion for 2018.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bishop presented to the board the current financial condition of the fiber network (a negative cash-flow of $1.86 million in 2016, not including interest, depreciation and cost of existing backbone fiber), and also presented options to pay for expansion of the fiber foot-print (currently available to 70% of the county) by either deferring capital projects (which would result in increased risk and cost of keeping the electric system reliable) or raising rates on the electric system. He also presented staff’s proposal of using revenues or cost savings generated by the fiber system above the $1.86 million subsidy to pay for expanding the fiber system to the remaining 30% of the county.

Following Bishop’s presentation, the board discussed ideas for expansion. Commissioner Tom Flint said he believed the utility needed to follow through with building out fiber to those who do not have access to a broadband service.

Commissioner Bob Bernd said the PUD needed to deliver on its promise of bringing fiber to locations who early on had overwhelmingly said they wanted fiber and were still waiting for it, especially in portions inside the city limits of Ephrata and Moses Lake.

Commissioner Terry Brewer said he agreed that Grant PUD should consider expanding if it could do so without being a financial hardship on the utility or mean that needed projects are delayed or deferred.

Commissioner Dale Walker said he believed that the utility had the money in cash reserves to fund expansion.

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Nordt suggested that the board look at money in the Reserve and Contingency Fund and use money above the target of $155 million to pay for expanding the network.

That decision would be reviewed annually until the fiber expansion is complete. Nordt said he would have staff determine what that amount would be at the end of this year and then those dollars will be budgeted for fiber expansion in 2018. Staff would present the commissioners with a plan for funding and expansion for their approval in an upcoming meeting.

Commissioner Larry Schaapman said that he would like to try this approach for a year and then have it reviewed annually to make sure it does not harm the utility’s financial position.

Brewer asked if the utility would be able to physically deploy fiber expansion in 2018 even if there is funding. Nordt said the Network staff has developed preliminary plans by looking into locations that would be the least costly to reach and should be able to have recommendations for expansion areas in a timely manner.

The commissioners stated that they wanted to see the utility work with Internet Service Providers and customers on the build out so there was some assurance that fiber is going to areas where there will be a high take rate and commitment from prospective customers.

“We need to take fiber to places where the people are going to use it,” Flint said.

In other business:

  • The Grant PUD Safety Continuous Improvement Team No. 2 members were introduced to the board. Members are Mike Bradshaw, Luis Sanchez, R.J. Fronsman, Jared Mooney, Joe Boitano, Russ Seiler, Brian Black, Tim Crawford, Kevin McAlexander, Ryan Roeder, Jared Youngers, Susy Anderson, Rob Sage and Nels Hanson. Board president Larry Schaapman thanked the team and others involved in improving the safety culture of the utility. “Hats off to you guys and the work you’re doing and follow up follow through is key,” he said.
  • The commission passed resolution 8862 – Resolution of Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Washington, Providing for the Issuance of Electric System Revenue Refunding Bonds of the District in the Aggregate Principal Amount of Not to Exceed $50,500,000 for the Purpose of Repaying the Electric System Revenue Bonds, Series 2014‐K; and Delegating Authority to Approve the Final Terms of the Bonds.
  • The commission also passed a motion authorizing the General Manager, on behalf of Grant PUD, to execute Change Order No. 20 to Contract 330‐4018R with Knight Construction and Supply, Inc., for work on the Wanapum Dam Spillway Gate Painting and Trunnion Rehabilitation project, increasing the not‐to‐exceed contract price by $302,665.00 for a new contract total of $15,913,565.00, modifying the completion date in accordance with change order documents, and resetting the delegated authority levels to the authority granted to the General Manager per Resolution No. 8609 for charges incurred as a result of Change Order No. 20. (3223)
  • The commission approved a motion authorizing the General Manager, on behalf of Grant PUD, to execute Change Order No. 8 to Contract 230‐4201 with Long Painting, increasing the not‐to‐exceed contract price by $607,473.00 for a new contract total of $3,270,091.67, to remove the lead paint on the generating units at Priest Rapids Dam and recoat them, revising scope of service, modifying contract completion dates in accordance with change order documents, and resetting the delegated authority levels to the authority granted to the General Manager per Resolution No. 8609 for charges incurred as a result of Change Order No. 8. (3224)

The commission approved payment of Cave B invoice dated September 27, 2017, in the amount of $15,409.94. The amount pays for Grant PUD’s expense in hosting the 2017 Shoreline Management Workshop in September.

Next meeting is Nov. 29 at Ephrata Headquarters, 30 C. Street SW.

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Mattawa students get a close-up look at spawning

MATTAWA — A smattering of small, bright-orange orbs lay on the dark asphalt of the Priest Rapids Hatchery spawning area like pearls suddenly set free from a broken necklace. They attracted fifth graders like a magnet.

“What is that?” Asked one of boys in a louder-than-speaking voice. He bent over for a closer look.

“Eeeew! Don’t touch it,” said another, rushing over. A huddle quickly formed – and clamor grew – around and over the curious spheres. What could they be?

More than 60 fifth graders from Mattawa's Morris Schott STEAM Elementary got a close-up look at salmon spawning Nov. 6 at Grant PUD's Priest Rapids Hatchery.

More than 60 fifth graders from Mattawa’s Morris Schott STEAM Elementary got a close-up look at salmon spawning Nov. 6 at Grant PUD’s Priest Rapids Hatchery.

This inquisitive bunch of students from Mattawa’s Morris Schott STEAM Elementary School were getting their first look at real salmon eggs, and they were about to see tens of thousands more.

The 64 students – two classrooms worth – and their teachers Erin Tostenson and Laura Catlin got an up-close look Nov. 6 at both the human-assisted and natural ways fall Chinook salmon spawn. See a video of their visit here.

Led by Grant PUD biologists Eric Lauver and Rolland O’Connor, the group watched state Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery workers corralling the previously trapped Chinook, euthanizing them with a blow to the head and tossing them onto a special tray for the next step in the process.

The students and other guests watched, as fish processors expertly sliced open the females, catching their thousands of eggs in white buckets, and squirting the white “milt” – seminal fluid – from the males into the buckets to fertilize the eggs.

“That was my favorite part,” student Litzy Ramirez said with a smile. “It was very satisfying.”
“What you’ve just seen is the spawning process,” PUD biologist Lauver told the group. “In the wild, the female would dig what in the gravel?”

“A redd!” the kids responded of the depression in the riverbed the female excavates with swishes of her tail to hold her deposit of eggs – somewhere between 3,600 and 4,000 of them per redd.

Grant PUD Biologist Eric Lauver explains how fertilized salmon eggs are incubated in trays filled with circulating cold water until they develop into tiny "frye" -- baby fish.

Grant PUD Biologist Eric Lauver explains how fertilized salmon eggs are incubated in trays filled with circulating cold water until they develop into tiny “frye” — baby fish.

They’d been studying the salmon lifecycle as part of an ecosystem lesson at school, Teacher Tostenson said. Like the STEAM in its name indicates, the school is focused on a curriculum heavy on science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Each classroom built a terrarium on top of an aquarium filled with guppies and snails to observe how whatever is deposited into the terrarium soil can leach into the water below, affecting the aquatic flora and fauna.

“We’re learning what the PUD does to maintain the health of the river, and what they (the students) can do,” Tostenson said.

The PUD annually spends about $15 million to support operations and maintenance of approximately 20 hatcheries, hatchery programs and fish-rearing facilities throughout the Columbia Basin. The cost includes habitat improvements, control of birds and fish that feast on young salmon, and monitoring and evaluation of hatchery and wild fish populations in the region.

In the wild, a male salmon releases his milt over the eggs as they are being deposited in the redd. The female covers them with a layer of gravel to protect them until they hatch into tiny frye.

Teachers Laura Catlin (left) and Erin Tostenson shepherded their fifth graders  among the raceways, spawning rooms and fish channel -- no easy task!

Teachers Laura Catlin (left) and Erin Tostenson shepherded their fifth graders among the raceways, incubation rooms and fish channel — no easy task!

At the hatchery, the crew places the fertilized eggs onto trays infused with circulating cold-water until they hatch – about 12 weeks.

As the Chinook grow, they’re transferred first to outdoor raceways inside chain-link cages to protect them from predators, then to larger rearing tanks until they’re ready for release into the Columbia River for their 400-mile journey to the ocean.

Many Chinook spawn naturally right in the hatchery’s water-filled channel to the Columbia. The tour ended with the students getting a close-up look at the females and bright-red males doing what nature intended.

“Their tails are very strong,” Lauver said of the females. They’ll stay with the redd until they get so weak they fall over and die.”

Student Francisco Capi, listened intently, after peppering Lauver with questions.

“Oh, pobrecitos! (poor things!),” he said softly in Spanish and headed off with his classmates to board the bus.

Story and photos by Christine Pratt, cpratt@gcpud.org, Grant PUD Public Affairs.

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Past, present merge at Archaeology Days

Bert, the great-horned owl, entertains kids at Archaeology Days. The annual, two-day event is a celebration of community, culture and history. It drew 488 kids, teachers and chaperons from all over Eastern Washington Oct. 25. "Adult Day," Oct. 26, drew 236 grown-ups for a series of historical lectures by regional experts. Throwing the "atlatl" an ancient spear-throwing tool, was another big draw.

Bert, the great-horned owl, entertains kids at Archaeology Days. The annual, two-day event is a celebration of community, culture and history. It drew 488 kids, teachers and chaperons from all over Eastern Washington Oct. 25. “Adult Day,” Oct. 26, drew 236 grown-ups for a series of historical lectures by regional experts.

MATTAWA — Don’t try to stare down a great-horned owl. They’re experts.

Hundreds of grade school kids from all over Eastern Washington discovered that Oct. 25 when they came face-to-face with Bert, who perched calmly on the leather glove of handler Steve Siebert.

This was Siebert’s first appearance at Archaeology Days, a celebration at the Wanapum Heritage Center to showcase the rich cultural and archaeological history of the Columbia Basin.

“They fly and hunt for jackrabbits,” Elian Guerrero, a second grader at Mountain View Elementary School in Quincy explained, after hearing Siebert describe how he uses Bert and other birds in his collection for hunting.

Hosted by the Wanapum Band and Grant PUD, the event began in 1999 and now spans two days — one just for the kiddos and a second for adults. Kid’s day was definitely the noisiest.

Students from as nearby as Quincy and as far away as Leavenworth, Richland, Coulee Dam, Toppenish and Spokane observed flint knapper Lloyd Barkley, a Pendleton, Oregon resident and member of the Yakama Nation, make projectile points (don’t call them “arrow heads”) out of obsidian.

They got a close look at Luna the live Pacific Lamprey and a handful of baby lampreys in an aquarium set up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials. They learned to use the “atlatl,” a spear-throwing device used by hunters some 3,000 years ago. They observed intricate beadwork on buckskin, had fun using Grant PUD’s solar car racetrack, and watched PUD linemen put on their popular high-voltage show.

The commotion shifted indoors only for a hot dog lunch, served by their Wanapum hosts.

“We do a bit of pre-teaching about the Wanapum Native Americans, and then the students can come and see things in person, touch things and talk to people,” said Brooke Rosenow, second-grade teacher at Mountain View. “This is a great way to learn about the past.”

Jordan Buck helps a young visitor throw an "atlatl," an ancient spear-throwing device.

Jordan Buck helps a young visitor throw an “atlatl,” an ancient spear-throwing device. Watch a video of the atlatl field here.

Education is also the goal for Heritage Center Curator Angela Neller. “My hope is that our visitors learn something and realize how important the natural and cultural resources are to the tribes,” she said.

Many exhibitors stuck around for adult’s day, too, when the focus takes a more scholarly turn with a series of archaeological-themed discussions by local and regional experts. Columbia River Historian Bill Layman kicked off the series with a talk about the Native American rock images — pictographs and petroglyphs — submerged in the reservoirs above Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams.

The Wanapum gifted each presenter with salmon and cherries. The audience munched on donuts.

“You guys bring us a big gift today just by being here,” Rex Buck, leader of the Wanapum, told the nearly 200 adults seated for the upcoming talks. “We can all come together and maybe understand things we didn’t understand in the past.”

Rex’s daughter Lela Buck was one of many who helped organize the event. Many Wanapum helped in the kitchen and elsewhere in the Heritage Center to make the event happen. Rex’s grandsons helped out on the atlatl field.

“As young Wanapum kids, they’re sharing things about their culture,” Lela said of her young nephews. “They’re just talking about who they are, and that’s really cool. We’ve been fortunate that Archaeology Days are just growing and growing and growing.”

Click here to view slideshow of Archaeology Days.

Story by Christine Pratt,  Grant PUD Public Affairs

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High bills giving you the chills? Grant PUD has some tips for the season.

As winter draws near these tips will help to ease the strain on your bill

EPHRATA, Wash. – Ready or not winter is coming. Even though we can’t control what the weather will bring, there are steps you can take to minimize the increase in electrical usage that typically accompanies colder temperatures. Consider these tips to prepare for winter so you can stay warm without sacrificing comfort or wasting money.

  • Prepare your home:
    • Schedule a service visit for your central heating system to see what maintenance is required to keep it operating efficiently.
    • Ensure your central heating system has a properly fitted and clean air filter installed.
    • If you have a heat pump, avoid switching your system to “E Heat” or “Aux Heat” as most heat pumps can provide heat to your home even as temperatures dip into the low teens.
    • Close or plug your foundation vents. This will keep your home warmer and help protect against frozen water pipes.
    • Check the weather stripping on exterior doors and windows. Adjust or replace if worn or missing.
    • Cover drafty windows and permanent wall-unit air conditioners by using a heavy-duty clear plastic. The plastic should be sealed tightly to reduce cold entering your home.
    • As colder temperatures arrive, close drapes in the evening and on overcast days to help retain heat within your home. Ensure your drapes do not obstruct heat registers.
  • Adjust the temperature:
    • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as comfortably possible.
    • When you are asleep or out of the home, turn your thermostat down even further. A programmable thermostat can help you adjust your heat to match your schedule. If you have a heat pump it is recommended to not drop your thermostat lower than 4°F below your normal heat setting.
    • Lower the heat setting on your water heater. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 18 percent of a household’s energy consumption is from water warming. Keeping your temperature at 120°F will help you see small changes in your energy bill.
  • Lighting choices:
    • Replace incandescent lighting with energy efficient LED lights.
    • Use timers and motion sensors to reduce the operating hours of interior and exterior lights left on for security purposes.
  • Inquire about Grant PUD’s programs to further manage your bill by calling 509-766-2505:
    • Grant PUD offers low-interest loans for energy-saving upgrades on windows, heat pumps and insulation for site-built homes.
    • Special rates for low-income seniors or those with a qualifying disabilities. These households may be eligible for up to a 20 percent discount on their electric bill.

Also, remember the number of days in the billing cycle can vary from one to four days each month. Each additional day in the billing cycle can mean as much as a 3 percent increase on your bill. Conserving energy can save you money and help all of us make the most of our energy resources.

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Commission meeting recap – Oct. 24, 2017

Load Growth

With the help of Grant PUD’s affordable rates and trusted reliability, the county continues to be an attractive location for business of all types. Recent expansion over a 10-year period ending in 2015, saw Grant PUD’s load grow by 63.5 percent to 590 average megawatts. Average annual growth during this time of 5.04 percent was more than 19 times the national average of 0.26 percent during the same period, according to historical data from Grant PUD and the U.S. Department of Energy. The need for future expansion doesn’t appear to be slowing. Over the course of the last few months Grant PUD has seen an unprecedented number of requests for new services.

This increased level of requests was the subject of discussion during Tuesday’s commission meeting on how Grant PUD can ensure they are positioned to addresses these requests while continuing to reliably serve existing customers. Some customers in the que awaiting service range from 3 to 100 megawatts of service. These requests, including both completed applications and initial inquires, would total approximately 640 megawatts of new service if fulfilled. This level of interest creates issues when looking at the available electric system capacity, infrastructure enhancements, rate design and policy issues. Addressing those topics will be a focus going forward as Grant PUD looks to responsively work to address these requests while also ensuring the reliability of service for existing customers. One new type of industry whose requests have grown in the recent months include the “Blockchain” and “Cryptocurrency” such as Bitcoin. Businesses within these industries use sophisticated computing systems that require high levels of energy.

In the end this is a favorable spot for the utility to be in. While the rest of the country struggles with flat or declining load growth, we are fortunate to see diverse industries expanding in Grant County.  The goal through this process is to set Grant PUD up to experience healthy growth for years to come that will benefit current and future customers.
Wheeling charge discussions continue: Grant PUD and a few members of the Quincy Irrigation District met on Tuesday to further discuss the cost of a proposed new “wheeling charge” – the cost incurred by using the transmission and distribution system to deliver energy – to the irrigation district. Grant PUD purchased transmission lines from Bonneville Power Administration decades ago, but agreed not to charge wheeling fees for 40 years. That 40-year agreement expired June 30, 2017. Initial analysis based on the cost of service shows the new wheeling fee would be just over $1 million a year. Grant PUD has been working under an MOU with Federal Bureau of Reclamation since June 30 as the irrigation district representatives and PUD discussed various aspects of the new wheeling rate. During Tuesday’s discussion the irrigation district requested that Grant PUD extend the current MOU until the end of 2018. The current MOU is set to expire at the end of the year. This extended timeline allows the irrigation district to work with the Bureau on how best to apply the wheeling rates to their irrigation district customers. Commissioners agreed to review the MOU and discuss the feasibility of an extension with Bureau.

In other business:

Revised Customer Service Policy and Fee Schedules Approved: Commissioners approved a proposal from staff to revise the customer service policy. The revisions included a few clarifications, corrections and changes that will allow the fee schedule and policies to better correspond to their business processes.  Included within these changes is the approval of a manual meter read fee for customers who prefer not to participate in Grant PUD’s Advanced Metering Program (AMP).  The approved fee schedule includes a one-time deactivation fee of $250.99 for those who wish to have the remote-read capability of their new meter turned off. Those who choose this option will also incur a monthly meter reading fee of $64.34 per month. The extra monthly charge for the manual read program covers the PUD’s cost to send a truck and a meter reader to the homes or businesses to continue reading the meter each month.

Support of the biological opinion of the Columbia River Power System: 97 percent of young salmon successfully make their way past federal dams on the Columbia River in part due to the biological opinion approved by NOAA Fisheries and implemented by dam operators. However in March of this year a District Court in Oregon directed federal agencies to undertake a comprehensive review of the hydro operations while encouraging federal agencies to include an analysis that incorporates the removal, bypass, or breaching of one or more of the four lower Snake River dams. Grant PUD Commissioners approved Resolution 8860 in support of H.R. 3144, which offers federal bipartisan legislation to create a solution to eliminate the unending litigation over the federal hydro system. H.R. 3144 would direct federal agencies to implement the current federal salmon plan known as the 2014 Supplemental BiOp. Without this legislation, federal agencies would be required to author a new 2018 BiOp without the benefit of new science and/or any public input.

Commission approves change order: During construction on the Rocky Ford to Dover 115kV line the Contractor (Summit Line Construction) had to mobilize their Hydrovac truck.  This type of machinery provides a “non-destrictive” method of digging by utilizing a pressurized water and vacuum system that helps safely expose underground infrastructure. The truck was needed to find a fiber optic cable Centurylink had an easement for. This was beyond the initial scope of the project and costs $30,954.82. The change order approves adding this total dollar amount to the overall project.

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Grant PUD and Wanapum to host archaeology days

One day will be dedicated to youth and a second day will be tailored for adults.

EPHRATA, Wash. – In recognition of Archaeology Month, Grant PUD and the Wanapum invite members of the public and media to Archaeology Days 2017. Archeology Days will begin with Youth Day on Wednesday, Oct. 25 followed by Adult Day on Thursday, Oct. 26. Events and activities on both days will be held at the new Wanapum Heritage Center near Priest Rapids Dam at 29082 Highway 243, Mattawa, Wash.

Archaeology Days provide a fun and interactive experience for all to learn more about the Wanapum way of life. Enjoy expert speakers on a host of cultural, historical and natural topics.  Those attending will hear from speakers, see demonstrations and participate in activities. The displays and events include, hide processing, beadwork, weaving, flint knapping, Wanapum cultural displays, tule structure experience, Wanapum dugout canoe and much more.

Both days begin at 9 a.m. and lunch is provided. Youth Day will go until 2:30 p.m. and Adult Day will finish at 4 p.m. Please call the Wanapum Heritage Center at 509-766-3461 with any questions. Visit wanapum.org for complete details. The schedule is planned as follows:

Youth Day, Wednesday, Oct. 25

9 to 9:30 a.m. – Welcome – What is Archaeology

9:30 to noon – Rotate through activities, including Canoe Display, Skits, Exhibition Tamanwit, Canoe Journey Exhibit, Flint Knapping, Hide Processing, Activity Booths, Natural Resources Plants, River Patrol, Solar Car Races, Demonstrations, Birds of Prey, Atlatl and Lineman Demonstration.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. – Lunch

12:45 to 2:30 p.m. – Continue rotation through activities

2:30 p.m. – Closing  

Adult Day, Thursday, Oct. 26

9 to 9:15 a.m. – Opening

9:15 to 10 a.m. – Bill Layman: Sacred Riverplaces: Documenting the Inundated Pictographs and Petroglyphs of Wanapum and Priest River Reservoirs.

10 to 10:45 a.m. – Matthew Johnson- Fauna from Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon (45KT12) and French Rapids (45KT13) Archaeological Sites.

10:45 to 11:15 a.m. – Break to visit demonstrations, displays and exhibits

11:15 to noon – The Wanapum River Patrol

Noon to 1:15 p.m. – Lunch

1:15 to 2 p.m. – David Rice- A Paleo-Indian Archaeological Assemblage from a Late Pleistocene Outburst Flood Deposit in the Horse Heaven Hills.

2 to 2:45 p.m. – Mark DeLeon- Go West Young Man: Trailscapes Beyond Priest Rapids

2:45 to 3:15 p.m. – Break to visit demonstrations, displays and exhibits

3:15 to 4 p.m. – Christine Brown- Erosion of Traditional Land Use Treaty Rights

4 to 4:15 p.m. – Closing

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Budget hearing and commission meeting recap – Oct. 12, 2017

Fiber build-out supporters flock to 2018 budget hearing

The first of three public hearings on the PUD’s proposed 2018 budget drew a crowd to commissioners’ Ephrata board room Tuesday to speak out in favor of continued build-out of the fiber-optic network to the 30 percent of the county still unserved.

PUD staff has recommended the district not use any more of its own funds at this time to complete the network, but instead seek find funding from within the community, or via state or federal grants to continue build-out. Continued use of PUD funds for build-out would require a permanent electric-rate increase of between 2.5 and 5 percent on top of the 2-percent rate-revenue increase already planned.

Ten audience members spoke out, saying the PUD has an obligation to continue build-out that began 17 years ago with the original intention to cover the entire county. Many pointed to the advantages of fast internet for students, individuals with medical conditions, families and businesses, including agriculture.

“The fiber program has been a gamble, but we love it and we don’t want to see it stop,” said Mick Qualls, chairman of the Grant County Fiber Active group.

Trish Hunter of Ephrata said her electric bill has been 8-percent to 9-percent higher for 17 years because of the fiber build-out costs that everyone in the county has had to pay, yet she still doesn’t have service. “I don’t want to be left behind any longer,” she told commissioners.

“Find it in your budget until fiber is available to each and every household in this county,” said Bob Murphy of Royal City, speaking on behalf of MacDougall & Sons, one of the county’s big fruit growers and packers. “Let’s get back on track and get this job done. We’ve been paying for it for 17 years.”

A PUD-funded fiber-focused customer survey in April that showed 46 percent of customers questioned said they weren’t willing to pay more for additional build-out.

Driving the staff recommendation are financial forecasts that show declining market prices for the PUD’s surplus electric generation, and a continued need to borrow to fund tens of millions of dollars in ongoing capital expenses, including unit upgrades and at Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams, improvements and expansion of the transmission and distribution system, purchase and installation of the new advanced meters and the remaining upgrades on Crescent Bar Island.

The fiber build out has so far cost the PUD $258 million. Construction to the remaining 30 percent of the county is estimated at $68 million over 10 years. Of customers with access to the network, only 48 percent actually subscribe to the service, but that number has increased over the past year through increased promotional efforts that will continue into the future.

Budget 2018 Presentation: Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bishop reviewed highlights of the proposed, $263.8 million budget for 2018. The budget reflects a 12-percent decline in overall spending from 2017, $133.1 million in capital spending and $93 million for service on the PUD’s $1.3 billion in outstanding debt. Operations and maintenance spending of $111.2 million would be a less than 1-percent increase over 2017, Bishop said.

The PUD is expected to end 2018 with $164.9 million in reserve funds, which are forecast to grow to $173.4 million by 2022. Staff and commissioners told the audience that robust reserve funds are necessary to maintain the PUD’s excellent AA bond rating. High bond ratings mean lower interest rates on future borrowing. PUD Finance Manager Bonnie Overfield told the audience that the PUD will need to issue $300 million to $400 million in new debt in the coming years to cover expected spending.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposed 2018 budget in November.

In other business:

Manual meter read fees presented: Customer Service Manager Terry McKenzie told commissioners Tuesday that staff is recommending a $64.34 a month fee and a one-time deactivation fee of $250.99 cost for customers who choose to a manual meter read service rather than participate in the remote-read Advanced Metering Program. The new fee schedule will be up for approval by commissioners in an upcoming meeting.
The extra monthly charge for the manual read program will cover the PUD’s cost to send a truck and meter reader to the homes or businesses to continue reading the meter.

Defective wire won’t slow down Rocky Ford–Dover 115kV project: Defects were discovered in late July in the electric wire purchased for the new 115kV Rocky Ford to Dover transmission line under construction along Highway 17, rendering the wire unusable, project manager Randy Kono told commissioners. Another supplier will provide replacement wire to keep the project on schedule with completion in late 2018. The defective wire was supplied in January 2016 by Sunni Electric Wire and Cable Company from Wuhan, China, and has a three-year warranty, Kono said. PUD officials await the company’s response to a request for compensation. The project’s contractor, Summit Line Construction of Herber City, Utah will provide replacement wire under a $338,133 change order to the contract.

Quincy Plains 230kV tap ready to energize: Severe wind on Oct. 7 has delayed energizing the approximately one-mile new Quincy Plains 230kv transmission line tap in Quincy, commissioners learned Tuesday. The line stretches along Road 11 NW and connects the new Quincy Plains, Cloud View and the existing North Quincy substations. A date to energize the approximately $3 million line will be scheduled soon.

Contract awarded for new Crescent Bar wastewater system: Commissioners unanimously authorized General Manager Kevin Nordt to enter into a $3.27 million contract with Clearwater Construction & Management LLC of Spokane to build a new wastewater-treatment facility on Crescent Bar Island. Both Nordt and Rich Wallen, managing director of Power Production, agree with PUD staff that the KRCI bid was the “lowest responsible and best” of the 10 bids received and is less than the PUD engineers’ estimate $3.4 million. Work on the new system will begin late this month and be finished in November 2018.

Wheeling charge discussions continue: Grant PUD, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and county irrigation districts have agreed to adjustments that would reduce the cost of a proposed new “wheeling charge” – the cost incurred by using the transmission and distribution system to deliver the power – by about 13 percent, from $1.2 million to just over $1 million, commissioners learned Tuesday. Grant PUD purchased transmission lines from Bonneville Power Administration decades ago, but agreed not to charge wheeling fees for 40 years. That 40-year agreement expired June 30, 2017. Grant PUD intends to charge the Bureau and irrigation districts the cost to deliver the power, no more or less.

Grant PUD to join Local Government Investment Pool: Commissioners unanimously authorized the district to open an account with the state Treasurer’s Local Government Investment Pool. The district’s investment policy allows for such participation. The pool is a free, voluntary investment vehicle operated by the state treasurer. More than 530 local governments have used the pool since it was created in 1986. Pooled, invested funds total approximately $15 billion. Yields from the fund have been similar or better than rates on the Bank of New York Melon’s Treasury bond index since January 2016.

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Public Power Week – Op-Ed

Grant Public Utility District (PUD) will be celebrating Public Power Week Oct. 1-7. Public Power Week is an annual celebration throughout the nation recognizing the contribution not-for-profit electric utilities make to customers.  Grant PUD started in 1938 with a vision of local residents who wanted a county-wide public utility to provide them with affordable, reliable energy.  Today, we realize their vision by delivering energy to nearly 40,000 customers both large and small and using the power of the Columbia River to generate more than 2,000 megawatts of clean, reliable, affordable energy.

Public power utilities like Grant PUD are embedded within our communities.  That means Grant PUD not only works for the people of Grant County, it is Grant County. As PUD commissioners, we are elected to serve our local customers, and we exist to reflect your voice and intentions.

We live, work and play within our communities. Knowing our friends and neighbors helps us balance the demands of our current customers alongside the needs of future generations. This model as envisioned by those early settlers of this county has allowed your PUD to do many great things for residents throughout our history. Most recently this model has enabled Grant PUD to:

  • Provide customers with stable and predictable pricing while continuing to provide you with some of the most affordable and reliable energy in the country.
  • Invest in our advanced metering program to drive efficiency, keep prices low, and provide more responsive customer service. This project is estimated to save your utility more than $35 million dollars over the next decade.
  • Renovate the turbines and generators at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams. We are undertaking this extensive work to replace and rehabilitate aging equipment to continue generating clean, renewable energy for decades to come.
  • Protect and enhance natural resources and improve river recreation. We have taken many steps to preserve the region’s history and beauty while still allowing residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy all that Grant County provides. We operate 19 recreation sites along our stretch of the Columbia River which bring in an estimated $34 million annual tourism dollars. We protect thousands of acres of sensitive wildlife habitat, preserve more than 1,200 cultural sites, and release more than 10 million juvenile fish into native habitat every year.

As a not-for-profit public power utility, our loyalty is to our customers first and foremost. We take pride in the way we collectively power our local way of life. We hope that you will come learn more about our plans to continue delivering excellence in service and leadership by attending one of our public budget meetings.  The budget meetings will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 10 at our Commission Room in Ephrata and that evening at 6 p.m. at the Fire Hall in Moses Lake. We will also hold a budget meeting on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. in our Hydro Office Building near Wanapum Dam.

We thank you for your support of public power — an American tradition that works.

 

Larry Schaapman

Commission President

Grant County PUD

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The City of Grand Coulee to accept Grant PUD payments for local customers.

Grant PUD’s Grand Coulee office to temporarily reduce business hours.

EPHRATA, Wash. – Beginning in September and lasting through November, Grant PUD’s local Grand Coulee Office will only open on Wednesdays. The office will be open during its normal business hours each Wednesday (8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Traditionally the office is open Monday through Friday.

To continue to meet the needs of local customers, Grant PUD has entered an agreement with the City of Grand Coulee that allows the city to accept Grant PUD payments. This will provide our local customers an added location to make their PUD payment.  Payments can be made at city hall during normal business hours. The Grant PUD pay station at city hall will continue after the local office reopens. Customers can also pay their bill on-line by visiting www.grantpud.org or over the phone by calling customer service at 800-422-3199.

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Keep your cool this summer with these energy saving tips

Use less energy and lower monthly bills with these simple suggestions.

EPHRATA, Wash. – With the heat of the summer settling into the region, making smart energy-use choices can help save energy and keep bills low. The following tips from Grant PUD will assist in saving energy and money this summer:

  • Temperature:
    • If you have air conditioning, set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. A recommended 78 degrees if you are home and warmer if you are away.
    • Reduce your electric water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Fans:
    • Use ceiling and other portable room fans to increase your cooling efficiency without having to lower your thermostat.  Be sure to turn any fans off when you leave the area as they are made to cool people and not rooms.
  • Air Conditioning (A/C):
    • Have your A/C or heat pump serviced regularly to maintain its best efficiency and capacity.
    • Clear the area around outdoor units from weeds or other items.
    • Clean or replace your cooling unit filters regularly to maximize their efficiency.
  • Windows:
    • Block sunlight entering your home using curtains or window shades.
    • Open your windows at night to let in the cooler air. Be sure to close any open windows by mid-morning to hold the cool air in.
  • Cooking:
    • Plan meals that can be made on a grill, in the microwave, or prepared in advance to avoid using the oven or stove during the hottest part of the day.
  • Cleaning:
    • Wash laundry and dishes with full loads. Wash laundry loads on cold cycle.
    • When possible air dry clothes outdoors and cancel the drying cycle on your dishwasher letting items air dry.
  • Leaks:
    • Sealing air leaks around windows and doors can save energy and money. Check for drafts around windows, doors and seals. Replace worn weather seals and/or caulk gaps where you feel drafts.
    • If you suspect air ducts are leaking contact an HVAC contractor for duct sealing options.

Grant PUD is committed to helping customers power their way of life. Visit www.grantpud.org for more energy saving tips and tools to help you manage your power use this summer.  For additional information on energy efficiency programs call your Grant PUD Energy Services Department at 509-766-2512.

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Learn at local libraries how Grant PUD delivers power to its customers

Grant PUD will participate in North Central Regional Library’s Summer Reading Program 

EPHRATA, Wash. – This July, be sure to visit your local library to learn the cool true story about how power companies like Grant PUD use the naturally-occurring water cycle to generate electricity, and also how power is delivered to customers throughout Grant County.

The program will provide plenty of hands on activities, including acting out the “Water Cycle” play, creating a human-conducting electrical circuit and even an opportunity for attendees to generate their own power. There will also be important information about electrical safety.

The schedule for the summer programs at the local libraries are as follows:

  • Mattawa: July 6, 10 a.m.
  • George: July 6, 2:30 p.m.
  • Quincy: July 12, 10 a.m.
  • Ephrata: July 12, 1 p.m.
  • Moses Lake, July 13, 2 p.m.
  • Warden, July 13, 4:30 p.m.
  • Soap Lake, July 14, 10:30 a.m.
  • Grand Coulee, July 19, 11 a.m.
  • Coulee City, July 19, 3 p.m.

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Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):  Public Affairs: (509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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Grant PUD reduces costs for voluntary purchase of alternative energy resources

Commissioners lower cost for customers wanting to purchase qualified energy attributes 

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD commissioners voted Tuesday, June 27 to lower the price for customers wanting to buy qualified renewable energy resource attributes on top of their regular power bills. In related action, the commissioners also approved a method for customers to purchase renewable energy certificates, as well as power from a specific generation source.

Grant PUD has an obligation under Washington State law (RCW 19.29A) to provide its customers with an opportunity to buy from qualified alternative energy resources. Costs in Rate Schedule 13 were lowered from $2 per 100 kilowatt-hour block to 75 cents per 100 kWh block. The new price is more in line with changes to market conditions since Rate Schedule 13 was first adopted in 2001.

Commissioners also approved two additions to Rate Schedule 13.  Rate Schedule 13REC allows for customers to purchase National Green-e Certified and Washington Qualified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) with a minimum transaction of 1,000 megawatt-hour blocks. Rate Schedule 13SS allows for customers to make a minimum purchase for 1,000 megawatt-hour blocks of specified-source generation energy attributes. The cost to buy blocks of power in Rate Schedule 13REC and 13SS will be based on current market rates and availability and will include an administrative fee to cover Grant PUD’s expenses.

These changes give customers access to renewable energy sources. Any purchases made in Rate Schedule 13 are in addition to what customers would normally pay on their monthly Grant PUD power bill.

“With these changes, we can better partner with our customers to meet their needs as they seek to achieve their sustainability goals by leveraging our staff’s knowledge and capability.” said Dave Churchman, Grant PUD’s Chief Customer Officer. “Our customers have told us this is an important service they require and we are glad to meet their needs.”

For information on how to make purchases under Rate Schedule 13, call Grant PUD’s customer service line at (509) 766-2505.

#                                                          #

Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

Posted in Billing, Community, Press Releases, Public Power | Leave a comment

New transmission line enhances electric system reliability for customers

Construction slated to finish by the end of the year and begin delivering energy by 2018.

EPHRATA, Wash. – Throughout the upcoming weeks, travelers on State Route 17 (SR 17) between Moses Lake and Ephrata will see crews working on the installation of a new transmission line. The 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line will connect Rocky Ford Substation, located just north of SR 17 near Rocky Ford Creek, with the Dover Substation

located in northeast Moses Lake on Patton Blvd. The line, comprised of 143 single pole structures, will run approximately eight miles along the north side of SR 17.

The completed project delivers improved reliability for customers in Moses Lake and the greater Grant County area, enhancing Grant PUD’s ability to restore service to homes and

businesses in the event of an outage. This project also allows the utility to meet growing electric demands from customers. The new transmission line is estimated to be constructed by the end of the year and energized in early 2018.  Once completed, the project is estimated to cost $7.95 million.

“A resilient transmission system is a key element of our local electric grid. We’re committed to enhancing this critical link between regional power sources and our communities,” said Grant PUD Public Affairs Officer, Ryan Holterhoff.  “As our communities grow, we are continually looking for ways to improve service reliability to better power our customer’s way of life.”

Drivers on SR 17 shouldn’t expect any uncommon traffic slowdowns during the construction period. Crews working on the transmission line will typically be far enough off the highway as to not disrupt traffic flow. A permanent, gravel access road parallel to SR 17 along the line’s route will be installed and work will take place along this new access road.

Grant PUD began exploring options for this new transmission line in 2012 and in the following year launched a series of public meetings regarding the project.  As a part of those meetings, customers participated in the process to review various social and environmental impacts of the new transmission line and the preferred route. Based in part on public feedback, the current route was selected.

The red line shows the new transmission route.

The red line shows the new transmission route.

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Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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May 18, 2017 Ephrata local office hours change in June

EPHRATA, Wash. – In response to changes in customer preferences, and technological advances in customer service, Grant PUD office hours will change to 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. June 1.

The changes align with Grant PUD’s desire to be responsive to local needs. Grant PUD began offering online payment options in 2007. At its inception, only seven percent of customers utilized this service. Today that number is over 40 percent and growing as more and more customers make the transition toward online payment platforms.

Grant PUD offers a number of billing and payment programs designed to meet the individual preference of customers. After unusually cold seasonal temperatures, bills were on average, 20-25 percent higher in January through March. To avoid the seasonal peaks and valleys that weather extremes bring, customers have the opportunity to smooth their monthly payments out with a level payment program called BudgetPay. This program gives customers the assurance of a predictable bill each month and makes managing a monthly budget easier. To make the change to BudgetPay call customer service at (509) 766-2505.

Customers will continue to have access to a customer service representative during the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling at (509) 766-2505 or visiting grantpud.org any time.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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Grant PUD offers free, outdoor recreation opportunities along the Columbia

New boat launch at Crescent Bar, with limited parking, opens May 26

EPHRATA, Wash. – Local residents and visitors will have a number of outdoor opportunities along the Columbia River this summer recreation season.

Photo credit: Grant PUD Final work is underway for the Chinook Park boat launch, parking lot and day-use moorage at Crescent Bar. The facility is expect to open on May 26.

Photo credit: Grant PUD
Final work is underway for the Chinook Park boat launch, parking lot and day-use moorage at Crescent Bar. The facility is expect to open on May 26.

Grant PUD operates 19 recreation sites on or near the Columbia River. Recreation sites with boat launches include the Priest Rapids Recreation Area, Buckshot, Huntzinger, Wanapum Dam Lower, Wanapum Dam Upper, Vantage, Frenchman Coulee and Apricot Orchards. The new Chinook Park boat launch located off-island at Crescent Bar, will open to the public on May 26. Fuel will also be available at the Chinook Park boat launch when it opens.

Boaters should be mindful that, because of on-going construction in the Crescent Bar area, parking is limited at the Chinook Park boat launch. Those with off-site parking are encouraged to use that option.

The two-lane launch and boat dock is the first of several new and enhanced amenities that will be free and open to the general public visiting the Crescent Bar Recreation area. The new RV campground and other facilities, including parks, beaches and walking trails, are expected to open by late June to early July following several months of construction. The golf course is also now open throughout the season.

Grant PUD’s recreation sites offer day-use visitors free, family-friendly fun in the sun and are one of the many ways Grant PUD powers our local way of life. During the Memorial Day weekend, overnight camping, which requires a fee, will also available at four campgrounds: Priest Rapids Recreation Area, Sand Hollow, Rocky Coulee and Jackson Creek Fish Camp.  For information about Grant PUD’s recreation options, visit http://grantpud.org/recreation.

Grant PUD wants everyone to enjoy a safe time along the river by following these safety guidelines:

  • Water released from the dams can create hazardous boating conditions. Sudden water level fluctuations can impact the shoreline. Make sure your boat stays wet and anchor well off shore.
  • Safety barriers located above both Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams are there to keep everyone safe. Do not go beyond the safety barriers under any circumstances. If someone gets in trouble and goes beyond the barriers, call 911 immediately.
  • Check the weather forecast before starting out. Watch for any wave, wind and cloud changes that signal bad weather is heading your way.
  • Make sure water and weather conditions are safe before entering the water. Cold water reduces body heat 25 times faster than air at the same temperature. The Columbia River can be cold enough to cause serious harm. Wearing a life jacket increases your survival time.
  • There are no lifeguards on duty at our recreation sites. Please be careful.

#                                                          #

Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

Posted in Community, Natural Resources, Press Releases, Recreation | Leave a comment

Customers to help shape direction of High Speed Network

Grant PUD requesting participation through online and phone surveys

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant County residents have an opportunity to help shape possible expansion of Grant PUD’s High Speed Fiber Optic Network. On the heels of focus groups and public outreach meetings, customers can participate through an online survey by visiting grantpud.org and clicking on the “Fiber Optic Outreach Survey” button.

The survey will be available through May 14. The results will provide one of many reference points that Grant PUD Commissioners will use to determine policy related to expanding fiber optic service to county residents currently without access. Commissioners and staff recently held two public meetings to initiate dialogue with customers and determine preferences associated with possible expansion of the High Speed Fiber Optic Network. The service currently extends to 70 percent of county residents. Commissioners are expected to consider public comments and explore scenarios associated with possible expansion this summer.

In tandem with the online survey, a representative sample of customers will be contacted May 4 through May 7 by a third-party research firm to participate in a brief telephone survey. As always, customers should remember anyone claiming to call from Grant PUD will never ask for payment or Social Security information over the phone.

To find out if your home has access to one of the most robust internet connections in the U.S., visit http://grantpud.org/customer-service/high-speed-network or call customer service at 1 (888) 254-1899.

#                                                          #

Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

Posted in Broadband, Community, Press Releases, Public Power | Leave a comment

Customer opportunity to weigh in on future of Fiber Optic Network

Grant PUD plans two public meetings to comment on scenarios for potential expansion to unserved areas

 EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD is hosting two public meetings in April to provide customers an opportunity to learn and comment on possible expansion scenarios for the utility’s fiber optic system into unserved portions of the county.

The first meeting is Tuesday, April 25 at 2 p.m. at Grant PUD Headquarters, 30 C Street SW, Ephrata WA. The second meeting is Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m. in the George Community Hall, 403 W Montmorency Blvd., George WA. During the meetings, expansion scenarios for the fiber optic system under consideration, including potential pros and cons, will be presented to public.

Customers are encouraged to attend the meetings and help Grant PUD shape the future of their High Speed Network. Along with the public meetings, Grant PUD will conduct a telephone & online survey in early May. Learn more at http://grantpud.org/customer-service/high-speed-network.

Posted in Broadband, Press Releases, Public Power | Leave a comment

03/28/17 Grant PUD commissioners set electric prices for 2017

Typical residential bill to increase $1.41 a month.

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD Commissioners at their March 28th business meeting, adopted 2017 retail electric price increases across all customer classifications.

The adopted 2017 budget called for price increases designed to add 2 percent in additional revenue from local (retail) customers. The typical residential household is expected to see an increase of approximately $1.41 per month on their electric bill (assuming 1,800 kWh). All increases are effective April 1 and are set to bring in an additional $3 million in revenue this year.

The price changes align with commission policy of small, predictable increases, while at the same time ensuring that the cost of serving each customer group does not stray from adopted long-term targets. Currently, customers such as residential and irrigators pay between 34-45% below the cost to serve, while others such as large industrial customers pay nearly 38% above the cost to serve. The allocated increases in the table below are consistent with the commission’s long-term cost of service targets. This long-term policy also protects core customers including residential, small business and irrigation, from volatile price changes while also allowing the utility to keep up with rising costs and maintaining financial stability.

“Customers rely on us to power their way of life. These smaller, more predictable increases ensure we are there when they need us. While we never enjoy raising electric prices, we need to ensure we are positioned for future changes in our industry and as it relates to customer expectations.” said Commission President Larry Schaapman.

In consideration of Commission policy, the adopted price increases for each customer classification are allocated as follows:

Customer Classification Increases:
Residential (Rate schedule 1)- 1.5%
General Service (Rate Schedule 2)- 2.1%
Irrigation (Rate Schedule 3)- 3.4%
Streetlights (Rate Schedule 6)- 0.5%
Large General (Rate Schedule 7)- 1.0%
Industrial (Rate Schedule 14)- 5.0%
Large Industrial (Rate Schedule 15)- 0.7%
Ag Food Processing (Rate Schedule 16)- 5.0%
Ag Food Processing Boiler (Rate Schedule 85)- 5.0%

For more information visit: www.grantpud.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Public Affairs Desk
(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

 

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Public meetings planned on future Grant PUD electric prices

Pair of meetings set for March 6

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD will hold two public meetings on Monday, March 6 to present projections for future electric prices.

The first meeting is at 2 p.m. in the Grant PUD Ephrata Headquarters Commission Room, 30 C Street SW, Ephrata WA 98823. The second meeting is at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Grant PUD Office, 312 W Third Avenue, Moses Lake WA 98837.

Two years ago, Grant PUD commissioners adopted a strategy of having small, incremental price increases phased in over time. To that end, staff members will present a review of the Cost of Service Analysis and a projected 10-year price trajectory to the Grant PUD Commissioners and members of the public. The commissioners will then take public comment following the presentation.

Commissioners will use the information presented from staff, while also considering comments received from the public, to set new electric prices for customers in Grant County later this spring.

Materials for the meetings will be posted online at http://grantpud.org/your-pud/commission-meetings/upcoming-meeting-agenda by Thursday, March 2.

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Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Public Affairs (509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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Power restored to all customers in Soap Lake, Quincy and Ephrata communities

Power crews restore all customers following outage that affected 8,000 customers

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD crews working throughout the night and through the morning have restored power to all customers affected by an outage that began at 7 p.m. Feb. 15.  Power was restored at approximately 1 p.m.

If customers are still experiencing an outage, they can report it to Grant PUD by calling (800) 216-5226. Please do not dial 911 to report a power outage.

Grant PUD line crews work to restore power to customers south of Ephrata on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

An equipment malfunction in the Central Ephrata Substation caused the outage that affected up to 8,000 customers at its peak in Ephrata, Quincy and Soap Lake. Customers in Soap Lake and Quincy communities were quickly restored about one hour into the outage. The majority of customers in Ephrata were restored around 2:30 a.m. Several hundred Ephrata customers in the Swanson Addition, Oasis Park and Railroad Ave areas, including several business in the southeast section of town, remained without power as crews worked to restore damaged spans of distribution line.

The cause of the substation equipment failure is unknown at this time. No injuries related to the substation equipment failure were reported. With power restored, Grant PUD crew members will work to determine the cause of the equipment failure over the coming days and week.

Along with the damage at the substation, the outage resulted in a fire in a Grant PUD maintenance building adjacent to the substation. The fire was extinguished by firefighters with Ephrata Fire Department and Grant County Fire District No. 13. No specific cause for the fire has been determined.

For power outage preparedness information visit our website at www.grantpud.org/customer-service/power-outages.

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Feb. 16: Large outage impacts customers in Soap Lake, Quincy and Ephrata Communities

Large outage impacts customers in Soap Lake, Quincy and Ephrata Communities

Portions of Ephrata still without power as crews work through the night and morning.

EPHRATA, Wash. – At approximately 7 p.m. Feb. 15 customers in Soap Lake, Ephrata and Quincy communities experienced a large power outage as the result of equipment failure in the Central Ephrata Substation.

Customers in Soap Lake and Quincy communities were quickly restored last night. The majority of customers in Ephrata were restored around 2:30 a.m. As of 6 a.m. Feb. 16, several hundred Ephrata customers in the Swanson Addition, Oasis Park and Railroad Ave areas were still without power as crews work to restore damaged spans of distribution line. The estimated time of service restoration is currently between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. today.

The cause of the substation equipment failure is unknown at this time. At the peak of the outage approximately 8,000 customers were without power. No injuries related to the substation equipment failure were reported. Crews worked throughout the night and will continue through the morning to get all customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.

“We appreciate the partnership and patience of local law enforcement, emergency management, public works departments and our customers. We recognize the inconvenience a power outage places on our communities and we are committed to restoring service as quickly and safely as possible,” said Public Affairs Manager Thomas Stredwick.

If customers are experiencing an outage, they can report it to Grant PUD by calling (800) 216-5226. Please do not dial 911 to report a power outage. For ongoing outage updates please follow Grant PUD on facebook. For power outage preparedness information visit our website at www.grantpud.org/customer-service/power-outages.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Grant PUD Public Affairs desk (509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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Chief Moses students and Grant PUD employees team up to help needy families

MOSES LAKE, Wash. – Students in the Chief Moses Middle School leadership class wanted to do something to help their classmates’ families in need this Thanksgiving.

So the class decided that they would reach out to their classmates, teachers and others to raise the money and materials to put together all the fixings – including big turkeys – for

Chuck Allen (from left), of Grant PUD, presents money donated by Grant PUD employees to the Chief Moses Middle School leadership class for Thanksgiving meal gift boxes. Pictured are Vivianne Bautista, Myah Cruz, Principal Vicki Swisher, and Ashley Butler.

Chuck Allen (from left), of Grant PUD, presents money donated by Grant PUD employees to the Chief Moses Middle School leadership class for Thanksgiving meal gift boxes. Pictured are Vivianne Bautista, Myah Cruz, Principal Vicki Swisher, and Ashley Butler.

Thanksgiving feasts for at least 23 families. The leadership class students were put in charge of organizing, advertising and following up to ensure that the donations for the baskets were raised and then assembled.

When determining who else to invite to help with the project, the students chose to reach out to the employees of Grant PUD. The PUD employees donated $800 of their own money to the cause to ensure that there would be enough money to purchase the turkeys and other items from a local store.

“We were very happy to hear about this opportunity to partner with Chief Moses students and be a part of the Thanksgiving basket program,” said Chuck Allen, Grant PUD spokesperson. “These students showed great leadership qualities in creating a project to help their classmates. We are thankful they invited us to take part.”

Posted in Community, Community Service, Employees, Press Releases | Leave a comment

Grant PUD Recognizes Nov. 16 as Utilities United Against Scams Day

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD will join more than 80 other utilities in the United States to observe the inaugural Utilities United Against Scams Day (UUASD) on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, to raise awareness about utility scams.

Most utility scams involve criminals posing as electric, gas or water provider employees—either in person or over the phone or internet—and demanding immediate payment via cash or reloadable debit cards, supposedly to prevent service disconnection. These unscrupulous criminals can be very convincing, and often target those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly and non-native English speakers. However, with the right information, customers can learn to avoid and report these predatory scams.

Customers who believe they have been targeted by utility scammers should follow these tips:

  • Hang up the phone or close the door, and call Grant PUD’s direct phone number, (509) 766-2505. After business hours, please call our 24/7 outage line, (800) 216-5226.
  • Do not give the caller or visitor cash, a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot card, a wire transfer, or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.
  • Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  • Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.
  • Delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or demand personal information.
  • Contact your local police through the non-emergency telephone number, or the state attorney general’s office, or contact the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
  • Learn more about Grant PUD’s anti-scam efforts at http://grantpud.org/customer-service/payments-billing/fraud-prevention

UUASD is a collaborative effort among the electric, gas, and water utility industries throughout the country, to help prevent utility service fraud through education, awareness, and customer advocacy initiatives. A primary goal of this collective effort is to help customers learn how to identify and avoid utility-related scams.

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Grant PUD commissioners set budget for 2017

Commission to review price increases early next year

EPHRATA, Wash. – Grant PUD Commissioners adopted a $307.3 million budget for 2017 during their meeting on Nov. 8. The budget gives an outline of funding so Grant PUD’s 47,000 customers will continue to be served with affordable and reliable energy.

Along with paying for the daily costs to operate the PUD’s electric and telecommunications system, the budget includes funds for the rehabilitation of generators and turbines at Priest Rapids Dam, which are now almost 60 years old. Funding is also included for upgrades to substations and additional electric system improvements attributed to the needs of our growing county, and new recreation amenities at Crescent Bar to enhance public access.

“Our 2017 budget reflects a commitment to long-term value creation for all customers,” said General Manager Kevin Nordt. “Our customers have been very clear in what they seek – safe, reliable energy at a stable and predictable price. This budget positions us to meet and exceed customer expectations, as well as make meaningful progress toward our vision of excellence.”

The financial forecast calls for an average 2 percent retail price increase. Commissioners will receive recommendations from staff regarding how the increase will be allocated across each customer class early in 2017. Following staff’s recommendation, the board will give the public opportunities for input on proposed price increases before taking action.

#                                                          #

Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):
Chuck Allen (509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

Posted in Budget, Community Service, Press Releases | Leave a comment

Temporary Columbia River closures planned above Vernita Bridge for Sept. 28 and 29 and Oct. 3 and 4

A portion of the Columbia River above Vernita Bridge will be temporarily closed to boating traffic on Sept. 28 and 29 and Oct. 3 and 4 while a contractor for Grant PUD performs maintenance to power lines that cross over the river. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office river patrol will be enforcing the closure of about a 400-yard corridor of the river 2.5 miles upstream from the Vernita Bridge.

The closures are expected to last between 30 to 60 minutes at a time, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., while the work is taking place. When the closures are in effect, watercraft operated by the Grant County Sheriff’s Office will have their emergency lights on and will be approaching boats before they enter the closed area. For more information, please call Grant PUD Public Affairs at (509) 754-5035.

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Grant PUD and Wanapum to host Archaeology Days on Oct. 5 and 6

Grant PUD and Wanapum to host Archaeology Day on Oct. 5 and 6

In recognition of Archaeology Month, Grant PUD and the Wanapum invite members of the public and media to Archaeology Days 2016 on Wednesday, Oct. 5 and Thursday, Oct. 6 at the new Wanapum Heritage Center near Priest Rapids Dam at 29082 Highway 243, Mattawa, Wash.

This year’s event provides a unique opportunity for youth and adults to come face to face with the Wanapum way of life. The Adult Day is Wednesday, Oct. 5 with a series of lectures and displays beginning at 8:30 a.m. and running to 4:15 p.m. The Youth Day is Thursday, Oct. 6 with a welcoming event beginning at 9 a.m. and activities and displays going until the closing event at 2:30 p.m. (See full schedule below.) Lunch is provided both days. Please RSVP by calling (509) 766-3461.

The displays and activities include: hide processing, tule mat weaving, traditional hemp-string formation, beadwork, weaving, flint knapping, Wanapum cultural displays, tule structure experience, Wanapum dugout canoe and much more.

The schedule is as follows:

Adult Day, Wednesday, Oct. 5

8:30 to 8:45 a.m. – Opening

8:45 to 9:30 a.m. – Tom Dresser: Pacific Lamprey and White Sturgeon – Life History, Historical Abundance and Activities in the Priest Rapids Project

9:30 to 10:15 a.m. – Charles Nelson: Natural Flakes

10:15 to 10:45 a.m. – Break to visit demonstrations and displays

11:15 to noon – Rick McClure: Traditional Land-use Treaty Rights

Noon to 1:15 p.m. – Lunch

1:15 to 2 p.m. – Ripan Malhi: Kennewick Man, Paleogenomics and Community Engagement

2 to 2:45 p.m. – Joe Sexton: Legal Analysis of the Ancient One Case

2:45 to 3:30 p.m. – Lourdes Henebry-DeLeon: Cultural Affiliation for the Ancient One

3:30 to 3:45 p.m. – Break to visit demonstrations and displays

3:45 to 4:15 p.m. – Kate Valdez: Summary/Wrap Up of the Past Twenty Years Regarding the Ancient One

4:15 to 4:30 p.m. – Closing

Youth Day, Thursday, Oct. 6

9 to 9:30 a.m. – Welcome

9:30 to noon – Rotate through activities, including Canoe Display, Skits, Tamanwit, Kennewick Man, Flint Knapping, Hide Processing, Activity Booths, Tule Mat Making, River Patrol, Solar Car Races, Demonstrations, Birds of Prey, Atlatl and Lineman Demonstration.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. – Lunch

12:45 to 2:30 p.m. – Rotate through activities, including Canoe Display, Skits, Tamanwit, Kennewick Man, Flint Knapping, Hide Processing, Activity Booths, Tule Mat Making, River Patrol, Solar Car Races, Demonstrations, Birds of Prey, Atlatl and Lineman Demonstration.

2:30 p.m. – Closing  

Click here for more information about the Wanapum Heritage Center.

 

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Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Thomas Stredwick / Chuck Allen

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

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Learn about Public Power in Grant County during Oct. 3 presentation

Grant PUD will be celebrating Public Power Week with a presentation for the public about the formation of Grant PUD on Monday, Oct. 3, in the Grant PUD Commission Room at 30 C St. SW in Ephrata at 6 p.m.

The presentation, given by Thomas Stredwick and Chuck Allen, of Grant PUD Public Affairs, highlights the pioneers in Grant County who had the vision to dream big dreams, including large-scale hydroelectric power projects to serve the region and creating a county-wide Public Power utility service.

“Everyone in Grant County has been affected by the vision and actions of these early pioneers,” stated Allen. “Their legacy is the benefit we receive in having some of the most affordable and reliable power in the nation. We look forward to sharing the story of Grant PUD with our customers.”

For more information on the presentation, call Grant PUD Public Affairs at (509) 754-5035 or publicaffairs@gcpud.org.

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Grant PUD to hold open house at Crescent Bar on Sept. 9

Grant PUD to hold open house at Crescent Bar on Sept. 9

Crescent Bar’s past, present and future will be celebrated during a special public open house on Friday, Sept. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m., at Crescent Bar Island on the grassy park area east of the store.

Everyone is invited to attend the event held by Grant PUD to showcase the upcoming plans for the development of renovated recreation amenities in the Crescent Bar Recreation Area.

“We wanted to hold the event on the same weekend as Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day in Quincy because Crescent Bar is such a vital part of the Quincy Valley,” stated Grant PUD spokesperson Chuck Allen. “This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in Crescent Bar and recreation opportunities on the Columbia River to attend and learn more about the history of Crescent Bar and our exciting plans to improve the area.”

Part of the open house will include photos and graphics highlighting the history and activities that have shaped the Crescent Bar area, as well as conceptual drawings and graphics illustrating Grant PUD’s plans for upcoming public recreation improvements at Crescent Bar.

The PUD’s recreation development plans include:

  • Public RV campsites
  • Improved vehicle and trailer parking
  • Full restroom and shower facilities
  • Trail system
  • Improved multi-purpose park area with picnic plaza, playground, and swim beach
  • New commercial spaces
  • Boat moorage
  • Renovated boat launches

Grant PUD staff will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about the upcoming improvement projects. For information, e-mail lands@grantpud.org.

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Established by local residents over 75 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT(S):

Thomas Stredwick / Chuck Allen

(509) 754-5035 / publicaffairs@gcpud.org

 

 

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Grant PUD’s dam tour video recognized with National Hydro Association award

The National Hydro Association recently presented its Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award to Grant PUD for its video tour of Wanapum Dam.

The NHA stated that Grant PUD received the award for its educational value.

“Grant County PUD crafted an innovative and concise video to educate the public on the value of hydropower,” stated the NHA in a news release. “A capstone of its new fish and hydro interpretive center, the video distills hydropower’s technical language into a 3D virtual tour of how Wanapum Dam meets the renewable energy needs of millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

Grant PUD employees Vanessa Seldal, Chuck Allen, Thomas Stredwick and Stuart Hammond were recognized during the Grant PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on June 14 for their parts in creating the video, which is shown at the Grant PUD Visitor Center near Wanapum Dam.

The center is open daily in the summer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit http://grantpud.org/recreation/educational/grant-pud-visitor-center.

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Fifth-grade students learn at Solar Car Races & Energy Fair

Fifth-grade students from schools in Moses Lake, Ephrata, Quincy, Coulee City and Warden learned about renewable energy as they participated with in the annual Solar Car Races & Energy Fair held on May 25 and 26 at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake.

Students prepared for the races by constructing their own solar-powered vehicle with kits provided by REC Silicon and Grant PUD in class before attending the event. They brought their cars to race on specially-designed tracks against their classmates. Along with the races, the students also visited a variety of stations where they learned about renewable energy in the region. Grant PUD gave a presentation about hydropower and taught the students about windpower and REC Silicon Inc., demonstrated how it creates silicon for solar panels at its Moses Lake plant. There were also other hands-on stations that gave the students an opportunity to learn how humans harness and use renewable energy. The students’ instructors used the event as a supplement to their science and math curriculum.

The Solar Car Races & Energy Fair is a collaborative effort put on by Grant PUD, REC Silicon, Moses Lake School District and Big Bend Community College.

To view a photo gallery of the event, click here.

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