April 10: Commission Meeting Recap

DURING TUESDAY’S MEETING COMMISSIONERS

-Unanimously approved a $2.8 million increase to the contract with Voith Hydro Inc. and an extension of 15 days, bringing the total revised contract maximum to $14.3 million. Voith is a contractor on an approximately 10-year project to rehabilitate the 10 turbine/generator units at Priest Rapids Dam. This change is the result of lessons learned rehabbing the first of the dam’s units. Rehab of the second unit is currently underway. Staff believes the revised work will be needed on all remaining units. Revisions are related to weld adjustments, welding materials needed, increased anchor installations and changes in pricing for materials to rehab each unit’s water passages. (2:26:08 on the audio recording and page 10, of the Commission packet).

Unanimously approved a change order for the extension of services with Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) for an additional $209,880 to allow a one-year extension in their existing contract to provide support of our fiber optic system. Specifically continuing 24×7 monitoring of the Merchant Wholesale Telecom System and Network Operation Center Services.  An annual change order is done to meet the requirements for contract within fiber optic rate schedules 100 and 120. (2:28:50 on the recording and pages 20-26 of commission packet)

During Reports to the Commission:

Commissioners Heard first-quarter Power Production results from Managing Director of Power Production Rich Wallen. Turbine/generator units were available to produce power 86.6 percent of the time at Priest Rapids Dam, January through March, up from 84.7 percent of the time during the same period in 2017, Wallen said. Unit availability at Wanapum Dam also increased slightly to 86.3 percent during Q1. Units are unavailable when they’re down for maintenance, upgrades or repairs.

Wallen pointed to an unexpected outage of Unit P09 at Priest Rapids Dam, the first of dam’s 10 units to be refurbished. The unit was completed, but taken out of service unexpectedly for nine days for follow-up repairs. The unit is has been back in service for 10 days. Wallen said lessons learned from the project, including disassembly, control of tools and parts, cleaning and wear and tear, will help crews with rehab of the remaining nine. Contract crews from Voith Hydro are already at work on the next unit to be rehabbed, P02.

Rehab efforts at Priest Rapids Dam are focused on rebuilding or refurbishing existing parts, rather than purchasing new parts. Project planners expect this strategy will save $55 million to $77 million in total cost for all 10 units. (Staff presentation page 1 and audio begins 1:18:30)

Commissioners received a quarterly business report from Shannon Lowry, Lands and Recreation Manager. Continued construction work at Crescent Bar and preparation for the heart of the recreation season highlighted the update. Construction at Crescent Bar’s on-island Riverbend Park Boat Launch and parking area is scheduled for completion by Memorial Day weekend. As the group gets ready for the peak of the recreation season this summer, seasonal workers and interns are also in process of joining the staff as well.

Initial interest in campsites at the recreation areas this season appears to be very high, as more than $45,000 worth of reservations have already been pre-sold for the 2018 recreation season. Visitors can make online reservations for the Priest Rapids Recreation Area, Sand Hollow and Crescent Bar Recreation Area.

As part of Grant PUD’s responsibility within its federal license to monitor and report recreation throughout the project, Lands and Recreation will also undertake completing two different surveys this year. The last survey was completed in 2015.  The first phase of the survey work will be impact monitoring. This portion will measure how users are using the recreation areas and to determine what if any rehab or restoration work is necessary.

The second phase will involve in-person surveys. These surveys are scheduled to occur throughout a defined portion of the summer. The goal is to gather insights from at least 200 respondents and see how people feel about Grant PUD’s recreation sites.  One of the specific items they will be looking to identify are primary zip codes of those interviewed and whether or not they pay a Grant PUD electric bill.   (Staff presentation page 17 and audio begins 1:46:45)

Commissioners Thanked Grant PUD line crews for long hours and quick, safe work restoring power in February to three large industrial customers in Moses Lake. The three industrials, Chemi Con, Geni and SGL employ hundreds of people over multiple shifts. Crews got the three up and running in less than 24 hours, despite extensive repairs. The cause of the outage was never determined.

“During this whole ordeal, we were getting regular updates every two hours or so,” said Commissioner Bob Bernd to the gathered linemen. He added, to laughter, “But, you know, at 11 p.m. I went to bed. I read the next update in the morning and I said, ‘Job well done and congratulations, and thank you on behalf of our customers and ourselves.”

Other Meeting Highlights, commissioners:

Heard a review of action expected at the next commission meeting April 24 on Grant PUD’s amended Strategic Plan – a roadmap that describes performance objectives and how to achieve them.

Heard a review of plans to extend for 15 years an existing contract with the Yakama Nation to hatch, raise and release coho salmon to achieve “No Net Impact” designation for coho migrating through Priest Rapids and Wanapum Dams. The change increases the contract amount by $14 million for a new contract total of $21.3 million for expanded services. The Yakamas’ contract work has helped Grant PUD save approximately $9 million by getting federal approval to do fish-survival “check-in” studies every 10 years instead of every five years.

Reviewed a motion set for vote at the April 24 commission meeting to execute a new contract with Avangrid Renewables (formerly Iberdrola) for a 10-percent slice of the Grant PUD’s share of output of Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams for six months, starting July 1, 2018. Terms are similar to the current contract.

Upcoming meetings:

Next commission meeting: April 24

Executive meeting with commissioners May 7 to discuss new service requests and emerging technologies

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