Wallen announces resignation as CEO of Grant PUD

EPHRATA – Rich Wallen, Grant PUD general manager/chief executive officer, has announced his resignation from the utility. The resignation, which was given to Grant PUD’s Board of Commissioners on May 7, is effective on June 14. 

Wallen has been with Grant PUD for seven years and served the last two and a half as the utility’s general manager. 

“During his time as CEO, Rich oversaw profound changes at Grant PUD,” stated Grant PUD Commission President Tom Flint. “Under his leadership, we have become more efficient and fiscally sound. Rich led a strategic re-alignment of the utility which sets the stage for Grant PUD to meet the changes and challenges in the evolving electric utility industry. He has also been a tireless advocate for hydropower in the Northwest, serving as a spokesperson for the industry, plus a board member and trusted advisor with many hydropower advocacy organizations.

“I, and the rest of the commissioners, are incredibly grateful for the energy, vision, and heart that Rich dedicated to our organization for the benefit of our customers. We wish him the absolute best as he moves on to the next stage of his career.”

Wallen is leaving Grant PUD for employment with Chelan PUD as their Chief Operating Officer. 

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Grant PUD launches outage alerts via text message 

Grant PUD customers can now stay up-to-date on major power and fiber-optic outages in their specific areas of Grant County by simply reading an alert on their cell phones or computers.

Major outage alerts by text message or email have already begun to Grant PUD customers via the Everbridge Emergency Alert System. This is the same emergency alert system used by Grant County Emergency Management and many law-enforcement agencies around the region.  

Grant County residents with mobile and landline numbers are already included in the Everbridge system. But anyone – even if you live outside Grant County – can opt in to receive alerts by filling out an online form here. Likewise, anyone who is already subscribed can opt out by following the instructions on any of the alerts received.

Grant PUD will use this alert service primarily for “major” outages affecting 100 or more customers and other, occasional, emergency service alerts. The same alerts and updates will continue to be posted on Grant PUD’s Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and the grantpud.org/outages website.

Why stay in the loop?

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FAQ's on new rates effective April 1, 2024

On Jan. 23, Grant PUD Commissioners approved new electrical service rates for our customers. The new rates, which includes an overall 3% increase, with specific allocations for each customer group will begin on April 1, 2024. To learn more about the decision making behind the rate increase read our recap of the Jan. 23 commission meeting. Below you’ll find answers to general questions we have received about the rate increase during our public meetings and individual discussions with customers.

Why does Grant PUD need to raise rates?

Each year, we look at how our retail rates cover operating expenses to serve our retail customers. We have a goal each year of making sure that projected retail power sales revenue covers our budgeted retail operating expenses. This modest 3% overall rate increase will help us keep up with increasing costs while at the same time ensuring we meet our commission’s goal of small, predictable rate increases.

Why don’t all customer groups get the same rate increase?

Commissioners are presently working under a rate-making policy which establishes certain rate trajectories and targets that provide predictable increases for our customers. Because customers have different power needs and use electricity in a different way, the costs to serve each group of customers are not the same. By factoring in the estimated costs to serve our customers when making these rate adjustments, commissioners are helping to move prices closer to those targets for each of our retail classes. Our commissioners and our customers have had considerable discussion about this rate-setting methodology over the past year and are expected to engage in a public process this year to determine how costs will determine rates in the future.

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Commission recap, 4/25/2023 — Preventive maintenance paying off in reduced outage times. More...

An invigorated focus on preventive distribution-system maintenance appears to be yielding a much lower total outage time, systemwide, Managing Director of Power Delivery Ron Alexander, told commissioners, Tuesday.

Since total outage time peaked in June 2022 at more than 130 minutes, total outage time dropped below the 100-minute target in August 2022 and continued plummeting downward to less than 70 minutes in November 2022. It has remained well below target ever since. Likewise, average outage duration per Grant PUD customer is also well below the target of .75%, Alexander said.

Crews have been working to replace aged poles, and pole components blamed for pole fires. They’ve also worked on improving “power quality” by updating equipment to ensure voltage remains within acceptable parameters even on the longer distribution lines.

“The improvement I’ve seen over the last 2-3 years — how things have been realigned and repositioned — it’s just brought the bar up higher,” said Commissioner Larry Schaapman, referring to the entire Power Production team. “As a commissioner I couldn’t be more pleased and more proud about what you guys are doing.”

See the full presentation on pages 43-62 of the presentation materials. Hear the full discussion at 1:29:41 on the commission audio.

Commissioners also:

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Commission Recap, 12/13/22 — Electric-rate increase approved for 2023

EPHRATA — In a measure to help Grant PUD withstand the impact of inflation, Grant PUD’s commissioners on Dec. 13 approved a plan for new electricity rates in 2023. The new rates take effect April 1.

This is the first power rate increase for Grant PUD customers since 2018. The overall increase of 3% will be allocated partly on Grant PUD’s cost to serve each rate group. The 3% increase and careful financial planning will help the utility withstand the 8.7% impact of inflation to its 2023 budget, which was approved by commissioners in November.The new rates mean a typical residential customer using 1,700 kilowatt-hours in a month will pay an additional $3.24 a month. By comparison, a large industrial customer with an average monthly usage of 20 million-kilowatt hours would see an increase of $12,600 a month.

“No one likes rising costs,” stated commission President Judy Wilson after the meeting. “This increase is necessary for us to try to keep pace with inflation while at the same time continuing to provide our vital services to our growing county.”Grant PUD’s proposed all-in Residential power rate of 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour is much lower than the average Washington residential rate of 10.19 cents per kilowatt-hour and the average United States rate of 14.88 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Commissioners also:

-- Heard from Tom Dresser, manager of Fish, Wildlife and Water Quality, that Grant PUD has secured a contract with Irrigation Technology and Control, Inc. of East Wenatchee to drill much-needed wells to increase the supply of water needed for fish and human use at the utility’s Carlton Acclimation Facility in Okanogan County near the community of Carlton. Search for a contractor began prior to the COVID pandemic.Methow River has naturally migrated away from the facility’s water intake, Dresser has explained. This, coupled with severe cold snaps that can occur in the Methow Basin during February-March, has the potential to restrict water supply when summer chinook salmon are at the facility prior to their release into the river during April-May of each year. 

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