Commission recap, 2/27/2014 — Fiber build, unit-rehab on track. More...

During their Feb. 27, 2024 meeting, Grant PUD Commissioners:

—  Heard from Aaron Kuntz, Senior Manager of the Enterprise Project Management Office that:

  • Work to upgrade the #6 turbine/generate unit at Priest Rapids Dam is currently 7 days ahead of schedule. The unit is now disassembled and will be rehabbed over the year. Rehab work is finished on five of the dam’s 10 units. All 10 units are planned to be rehabbed.
  • Buildout of the fiber-optic network to the remaining customers of Grant County continued through most of the winter and is on track to be finished by year’s end.
  • A contract to design and build a new Ephrata Service Center — a homebase for area line and electronics crews, warehouse, transportation shop, materials yard and more — was executed under the state’s “Progressive Design Build” process. The site of the new center has yet to be finalized. The existing center is aged and too small.
  • Grant PUD project managers are currently shepherding 34 projects related to Power Production, Enterprise Technology, Facilities, and Power Delivery through various stages of the project management process – initiation, planning, execution, and closing

See the full presentation on pages 40-63 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 1:17:42 on the commission audio.

Heard that the finance and energy-supply-management teams are requesting commission approval for a proposal to protect Grant PUD from the volatile pricing on future electricity purchases needed to ensure a reliable electric supply for its customers

Grant PUD’s federal license to operate Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams entitles the utility to 63.31% of the dams physical generation of electricity and up to 30% of the financial (market) value of the generation from the dams.   The market value is realized through an annual auction process.  From the auction proceeds, Grant PUD receives cash to purchase power on the open market to serve its customers

Grant PUD expects in-county electricity demand will begin to outgrow the utility’s physical and financial share of the dams in 2026-2027. Grant PUD’s share of the financial value is $307 million for 2024. Based on forecasted market prices, next year’s total is estimated at $297 million. 

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Hydropower is the cornerstone of a reliable, clean energy future

(This op-ed represents the shared opinion of Grant, Chelan, and Douglas PUD in support of hydropower and the lower four Snake River dams. Originally released 02/01/2024)

Affordable, plentiful energy is the root of a society that enables economic growth. It’s easy to forget our community’s biggest asset even though it affects everything we do. Now more than ever, our customers need to understand hydropower’s role in the rapidly changing energy landscape, and how we’re preparing for the future.

It’s no secret that the public utility districts of Chelan, Douglas and Grant counties provide very low electric rates. Thanks to the vision of local citizens who voted to create public utility districts, and the commissioners elected to represent them, our PUDs brought low-cost public-owned hydropower to our region over 60 years ago. Today, these hydropower projects are the backbone of a clean energy economy that supports local residents and attracts new industries. As a bonus, the dams provide recreational opportunities and beautiful parks that make our communities a desirable place to live.

Good News for Hydropower

Hydropower’s reputation has seen some highs and lows over the last few years in the regional and national spotlight. The good news is that Washington State’s Clean Energy Transformation Act recognizes hydropower as a clean resource that can help meet carbon reduction goals. That’s a change from 20 years ago, when our existing hydropower wasn’t counted as eligible under the state’s renewable energy standard. At the federal level, recent laws providing billions in clean energy incentives treat hydropower more equitably than in the past. These are encouraging signs. Yet most people don’t really understand hydropower’s crucial role in keeping our electric grid reliable and costs affordable as coal and natural gas generators retire.

Bad News for Hydropower

A recent proposal illustrates this problem and highlights the growing disconnect surrounding hydropower’s importance to our everyday lives. In December, the U.S. government filed an agreement in Oregon to resolve an Endangered Species Act lawsuit against federally owned dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Under the agreement, the U.S. government commits to helping tribes build replacement power for the four Lower Snake River Dams. The goal is to bring the region one step closer to breaching them. Dam breaching is deeply concerning for customers served by utilities (including those in Okanogan and Kittitas counties) who purchase power from the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the hydropower produced by the Lower Snake River Dams. It is also concerning to regional electric grid managers, who understand there are no easy replacements for the consistent carbon-free energy provided by these dams. Unfortunately, utilities were not allowed to provide input into the agreement, and many of the details are still unclear.

Building on the Hydropower Foundation

Talk of dam breaching fails to recognize that we’re entering a time of extreme change for the electric grid. Projected electricity demand is staggering as new industries and public policy shift more energy use to electricity. The Pacific Northwest Utilities Coordinating Council predicts 20 percent electricity growth in the region over the next 5 years. Meanwhile, state, and federal policies increasingly require that electricity be emission-free. This will entail a combination of energy storage, remote renewables, new transmission lines, and more energy innovation. It’s more likely that the region will need both massive

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Commission recap, 2/13/2024: Commissioners urge faster move toward new electric generation. More...

Commissioners Tuesday urged Grant PUD staff to move more quickly to acquire or otherwise build new generation to meet the energy needs of new and existing customers.

“We need more power. We’re costing our customers jobs,” Commissioner Nelson Cox said. Commissioners Tom Flint, Larry Schaapman and Terry Pyle expressed similar concerns.

Flint called for staff to take a new look at building a natural-gas-powered turbine generator to satisfy energy demand in the shorter term, until the utility can generate more of its own carbon-free power, whether it be via a small modular nuclear (SMR) plant or other resource. Lead time to get an SMR plant permitted, built and operational is approximately 12 years, he said.

“We’re going to need a resource quicker than that,” he said.

General Manager Rich Wallen said the natural-gas turbine could conflict with the state’s carbon-free-energy-supply goals, but staff would look into it.

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Grant PUD Commissioners: Thank you to our crews

Thank you, field crews, for your exceptional service

The recent snap of sub-zero temperatures, high winds and snow created brutally cold working conditions for all Grant PUD field crews, from the Line, Facilities and Transportation departments to substation operators, power system electricians, and relay and warehouse personnel.

We Commissioners say a collective “Thank you” for every sidewalk and parking lot cleared of snow, every vehicle that received extra attention, and for the long, frigid hours spent responding to scattered, weather-related outages and electric system repairs. Our crews have proven themselves to be tough. But their dedication and quality of work during the cold snap went way beyond tough. They showed us again, as they have many times in the past, a “get-it-done” attitude that truly reflects a sense of community and customer service.

We also wish to acknowledge all other employees who work in our power plants, service centers and offices, including powerhouse and system operators, for their efforts to ensure the challenges brought by the weather did not stop us from providing vital service to our customers.

Your work makes a difference. It makes us proud to represent this utility. So, again, on behalf of the entire Grant PUD Commission, we thank you!

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Commission recap, 1/23/2024 — Average 3% rate-revenue increase to begin April 1. More...

Commissioners Tuesday approved a 3% average increase to electric-rate revenue, effective starting April 1, 2024.

The increase will add an estimated $3.50 to the average monthly bill of a residential customer and just over $10 to the average monthly bill of a small business. Learn more about why a rate increase is necessary here.

“We’ve had quite a bit of discussion on this resolution,” Commission President Tom Flint said, referring to past, well-attended commission meetings and workshops, before calling for the vote.

Commissioners were unanimous on the need for a rate increase but differed over how to allocate the increase across customer groups. The approved average increase affects each rate class differently, depending on the cost to provide electric service to each customer group (see table, below). Commissioner Nelson Cox abstained. Commissioner Flint opposed, stating in past rate discussions that he instead favored an across-the-board, 3% increase for all rate classes.

The remaining three commissioners voted in favor of the average 3% increase, saying in past meetings that it was aligned with the existing, cost-to-serve-based rate-setting policy. They all intend to review and update that policy over the coming year.

The increase is needed to cover inflation-driven operational costs related to power generation and distribution, help fund necessary projects and ensure continued financial strength.

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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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Help Grant PUD by reducing your energy use

For immediate release:
Help Grant PUD by reducing your energy use 

Frigid temperatures throughout Grant County and the Pacific Northwest this past week have pushed energy use to record levels, strained many regional electric grids, and put a heavy draw on our region’s capacity to generate electricity.

Grant PUD is asking all our customers, including our large industrial customers and Grant PUD’s own facilities, to avoid the potential for local and regional outages by reasonably and safely reducing electricity use over the next 36 hours until outdoor temperatures warm. This is especially necessary during hours of peak energy use: Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

How you can help?

— Reduce your building’s heat with thermostats set to a recommended 68 degrees.

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Commission recap: 'Takin' care of business in 2024. And more...

The band Bachman Turner Overdrive lit up the Roseland Ballroom stage in New York City a decade ago with a rockin’ performance of their classic anthem “Takin’ Care of Business” to a euphoric live audience. The band’s guest keyboardist — Paul Shaffer, of David Letterman Show fame — supercharged the song’s finale by tipping his electronic organ on its end, spinning it around so the keys faced the audience and playing it vertically. And that is exactly the YouTube video that Grant PUD Commission President Tom Flint chose to “set the tone” for 2024 at the year’s first commission meeting, Tuesday.

“After years of COVID, Grant PUD is back taking care of business. That’s my motivation to start the year,” said Flint, who is now into his 20th year as a Grant PUD commissioner and a time or three (at least) as commission president. During the business meeting, after lunch, Flint listed the following goals and objectives for 2024:  

  • Be good stewards of our resources. Our employees are our most valuable resource.
  • Continue and enhance our safety culture.
  • Improve our financial ratings and cost effectiveness.
  • Reduce our operating risk.
  • Preserve, protect and perpetuate the history of the Wanapum People and include the history of Grant PUD and the farmers, ranchers and rural residents who made it happen.
  • Further development and expansion should not be at the expense of our core power users.
  • Work to modify the utility’s current cost-of-service-based rate-setting policy, while following existing policy to avoid rate shock, make any rate increases small and predictable, and try to minimize any unintended consequences of rate changes.
  • Pursue other generating resources that are available around the clock, year-round, and are economically feasible, including small nuclear reactors paid for with longterm power contracts – much the way the construction of Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams were financed.
  • Support employment in Grant County and growing our own employees.
  • Completing the fiber buildout before the end of the year, as promised.

Hear Commissioner Flint announcing his objectives for 2024 at 2:45:18 on the commission audio.

Fiber staffers propose technology transition to a more cost effective and scalable network service

Grant PUD staff recommend transitioning the current “Active-E” ethernet technology for to-the-home fiber-optic service with industry standard “passive optical network” or PON technology for a more cost effective and scalable service with greater longevity.

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Commission recap, 12/12/2023 — Bond refi to save Grant PUD $7.4 million. More...

External Affairs shares outreach successes in 2023

The External Affairs Department shared highlights from their community outreach efforts in 2023 with the commissioners. One highlight was a national award for the PUD’s Fiber Dog video. The video received an Award of Merit from the American Public Power Association. The same video was named the Audience Choice winner out of more than 10 videos that were shown to attendees during the APPA’s Customer Connection Conference in San Antonio, Texas in November.

Chuck Allen, Senior Manager of External Affairs & Communications told the commissioners that the award was fitting recognition for the hard work of the Public Affairs staff, including Rosalie Black and Raquel Urbina, who developed the video in-house.  

Another highlight was the successful launch of Grant PUD’s 509River.org website the 2023 recreation season. Black explained that the website was developed to help the utility achieve a goal of having more people visit the lesser-known Grant PUD campsites and boat launches on the Columbia River. Black said the marketing campaign associated with the website showed about a 25% increase in campers at the Sand Hollow website in August and that she thought there would be even greater results there and at other target locations including the campsites at Rocky Coulee and Jackson Creek. 

Annette Lovitt, the External Affairs Community Outreach coordinator also told the commissioners that the department will be looking for more opportunities to participate in community events and activities in 2024 to help further the utility’s customer engagement and education goals for 2024. Hear the discussion at 4:09:35 of the commission audio and see page 39 of the presentation materials

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Commission recap, 11/28/2023 — New software, solid teamwork shave hours off turbine/generator rehab

Project managers are crediting teamwork and a new cloud-based tool for project scheduling, resource management and performance monitoring for shaving thousands of work hours off the rehab of a fifth turbine/generator unit at Priest Rapids Dam and finishing the big project 38 days ahead of schedule.

Rehab of the fifth of the dam’s 10 generating units required 88,000 work hours to complete, compared to 95,000 hours for the previous turbine/generating unit, Project Manager Eric Hull told commissioners. The Oracle software tool, Primavera, was responsible for a portion of the efficiency gain, combined with quality teamwork.

Rehab of a single unit requires more than 800 individual tasks, each requiring at least one day, he said. The tool allows managers and supervisors to better schedule and reschedule work crews to reduce down time due to unexpected supply chain and other delays.

Grant PUD launched the software two years ago, he said. The tool is widely used throughout the industry. The dam’s turbine/generator rehab project began in August 2016. The final five units are scheduled to be rehabbed by late October 2029.

“So, are we on schedule?” Hull rhetorically asked commissioners? “No. We’re ahead of schedule.”

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Commission recap, 11/14/2023 — 2024 budget approved w/funding to finish fiber buildout

Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a $347.2 million expense budget for 2024 that fosters continued financial strength, ensures continued reliable service for Grant PUD customers and completes a milestone, 24-year effort to make the Grant PUD fiber-optic network available to every resident of Grant County.

“Fiber for everyone who wants it was a commitment we made as a commission in 2000,” said Tom Flint, the board’s longest-standing member and a consistent fiber advocate. “At times, it didn’t seem as if we’d get there, but it sure looks like it’s going to happen by late next year. That’s good to see.”

The 2024 budget includes a rate increase. Commissioners continue working with staff to determine how much a rate increase is needed to maintain the utility’s financial health and how the increase will affect each individual rate class.

Future rate discussions will be scheduled to give customers ample chance for input before the new rates are expected to take effect on April 1, 2024.

Total budgeted expenditures in 2024 are 9.5% higher than the $317 million in total spending originally budgeted in 2023. The increase is driven by 7.3% increase in operations and maintenance expenses, from $188.2 million in 2023 to $201.9 million, and a 11.6% increase in capital spending, from $155 million in 2023 to $172.9 million.

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Commission recap 1/10/2023 -- Commissioners Nelson Cox and Terry Pyle sworn in for new terms

Grant County Superior Court Judge Tyson Hill was on hand in Grant PUD’s Ephrata commission room Tuesday to officially swear-in newly re-elected Commissioner Nelson Cox to a second, four-year term on the commission and Commissioner Terry Pyle to his first popularly elected six-year term.

Cox, a retired potato farmer from Warden, represents District B-At Large. Pyle was appointed by commissioners in October 2021 to fill the remainder of the then-vacant District 2 position. Voters in November gave Pyle another six years. Pyle teaches business and economics courses at Big Bend Community College.

Commissioners chose board officers at their Dec. 15, 2022 meeting. This year, Commissioner Cox will be board president, Commissioner Tom Flint, vice president and Commissioner Terry Pyle, secretary. Commissioners Larry Schaapman and Judy Wilson round out the board.

Hear the swearing-in at 2:52:37 on the commission audio.

Recreation visitors survey back this year after COVID hiatus

Grant PUD is again launching its in-person survey of visitors to the utility’s Columbia River-recreation areas to gauge visitor satisfaction with amenities and overall experience.

“This is very, very useful date for us,” Manager of License Compliance & Lands Services Shannon Lowry told commissioners Tuesday of the survey.

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

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 10/24/2023 — Rate-setting process will take all customers into account. More...

Grant PUD commissioners Tuesday told an audience that packed the Ephrata headquarters’ boardroom that their ongoing discussion over how to set electric rates and arrive at a rate increase for 2024 will take into account all the county’s economic sectors and ensure “core customers” are protected.

Commissioner Cox invited the audience to a commission workshop, Nov. 21, at 9 a.m. in the Grant PUD Ephrata Headquarters commission room for an in-depth discussion about rates.

Comments from Commissioners Tom Flint, Judy Wilson, Terry Pyle and Larry Schaapman reinforced their intention to represent all voters of Grant County, not just the industrial and ag sectors.

They added that industrial demand for electricity should not come at the expense of Grant PUD’s core customers — residential, irrigation, small and medium business and large commercial — billed under rate schedules 1, 2, 3 and 7. Core customers pay below cost for their electricity. Industrial customers pay above-cost for their electricity.

They called for a need to revise Resolution 8768, approved by the board in 2015. Based on a Grant PUD analysis of the cost to provide electricity to its different customer groups, the resolution proposed yearly rate adjustments to eventually arrive at the target “goal posts” that no customer group would pay less than 20% below its cost to serve, nor more than 15% above its cost to serve by Dec. 31, 2023.

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Commission recap, 10/10/2023 — Industrial and ag customers seek greater participation in rate discussion. More...

Members of two of Grant PUD’s largest power-consuming customer groups told commissioners Tuesday that they wanted more participation in commissioners’ ongoing discussion about how much to raise rates over the coming years and how the increases would apply to each ratepayer group.

“We’d like to be part of the wrestling match,” Dan Miller, spokesman for the Ag Power Users Group of Grant County told commissioners during the more than 60-minute discussion noted for its respect and cordiality. “It’s a question of you guys telling us your time frame, and we’ll come here and sit down and talk to you.”

“I appreciate the PUD holding this meeting today,” said Ryan Beebout, general manager for Sabey Data Centers, and a leader of the Grant County Industrial Alliance. “I appreciate the open dialog. I think we’ll get a lot farther and find a mutually beneficial solution if we have these open dialogs together. It’s good to see some collaboration between the industrials and ag.”

Central to the discussion is commissioners’ need to revise or replace a rate-setting policy, Resolution 8768, approved by the board in 2015. Based on a Grant PUD analysis of the cost to provide electricity to its different customer groups, the resolution proposed yearly rate adjustments to eventually arrive at the target “goal posts” that no customer group would pay less than 20% below its cost to serve, or more than 15% above its cost to serve by Dec. 31, 2023.

The resolution remains in effect, but commissioners four years ago agreed to depart from the resolution’s annual rate adjustments. Rates have not increased for four consecutive years.

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Commission recap, 9/26/2023 — Commissioners welcome Education-Reimbursement policy updates. More...

Changes to a policy on education reimbursement for employees will help ensure more consistency in the administration of the program and help ensure the utility continues to reap the benefits of that investment.  

Senior Manager of Employee Experience Tom Stredwick said the changes better define limits on what the utility will spend, how much on-the-job time the recipient employees can spend studying, the number and type of academic degrees it will fund per employee, the type of employee who can qualify for the reimbursement and the number of years a recipient must remain on staff after completing his/her studies without having to pay the tuition back.  

This program aligns with Grant PUD Commission desire to have an industry leading education reimbursement program as outlined in Strategic Plan Objective 2. Programs like this were created to ensure that Grant PUD is able to grow local talent. In Grant County, only 13% of residents have a 4-year degree which precludes many from having access to many positions within the organization. 

“I’m glad to see you tightening up some of the requirements,” Commission Judy Wilson said. “They need to be going for a program that will benefit the PUD, too.” 

“I definitely agree with the grow-our-own program,” Commission President Nelson Cox said. “But I do like the tightening up.” 

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Delve into Columbia Plateau cultures at Archaeology Days

The Wanapum Heritage Center and Grant PUD invite you to…

Delve into Columbia Plateau cultures at Archaeology Days

Learn about the Wanapum way of life with a day of fun and interactive experiences at the Wanapum Heritage Center, near Priest Rapids Dam.

Archaeology Days commemorates state Archaeology Month with two days of hands-on activities – one for kids and one for adults – amid the basalt and Columbia River-carved high-desert basin the Wanapum have inhabited since time immemorial.

  • Youth Day, Oct. 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30p.m. is for area students to hear stories, learn about area flora, fauna, geology and ecology. They’ll observe hide tanning, beadwork and tule mat weaving. They’ll throw an atlatl (hunting spear) the Wanapum way, view Indigenous arts and crafts and get a glimpse into the cultural importance of it all. Student groups must call the Heritage Center in advance to reserve space. See the telephone number, below.
  • Adult Day, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. is open to all for a full day of interesting presentations by expert speakers on a host of cultural, natural and historical topics. A list of the day’s presenters will be available at the event. Many of the hands-on exhibits featured on Youth Day stick around for the adults, too.

The Wanapum Heritage Center will be open both days, featuring the permanent exhibit “Life as a Wanapum,” with audio interviews, interactive monitors, diorama and a life-size tule-mat lodge. The Temporary Exhibit Hall currently features the “Portraits in Red. Murdered & Missing Indigenous People Painting Project.”

Getting there: The Wanapum Heritage Center is 1.5 miles south of Desert Aire, off Highway 243. Turn at the Priest Rapids Dam entrance. Address: 29082 Highway 243 South.

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Customer feedback welcome at Grant PUD hearings for 2024 budget

The public will get a look at Grant PUD’s draft 2024 budget and proposed rate increase at three public budget hearings in October.

Hearing dates are:

Oct. 10, 2023 — Ephrata Headquarters Commission Room — 2 p.m.

30 C Street SW, Ephrata, WA 98823

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Commission recap, 9/12/2023 — Fresh, cold water for fish, more...

Grant PUD commissioners at their Sept. 12, 2023 meeting:

— Learned that the Fish and Wildlife Team will be seeking a contractor to support Grant PUD’s efforts to determine the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating through the Priest Rapids Project, Tom Dresser, Manager of Fish, Wildlife and Water Quality, said. The 2025-2027 analysis will determine if current mitigation efforts, such as juvenile fish passages at the dams, advanced turbine systems and other measures are continuing to maintain the required survival standards. Other fish-related capital projects reported on included:

  • A new production well to supply water to Grant PUD’s Carlton Acclimation facility located on the Methow River and a domestic well, which will be drilled next. Total project cost to date is $880,290. The production well is necessary because the Methow River is naturally migrating away from the facility’s existing water intake structure. The facility acclimates juvenile salmon to Methow River water prior to their release into the river. Once acclimated, salmon will return to that river to spawn after migrating to the ocean to mature.
  • Permit applications are expected to go out by December to upgrade the Priest Rapids Hatchery Siphon Intake, which provides the hatchery with surface water from the Columbia River. The current intake does not currently meet required fish screening standards/criteria. The current estimated cost is approximately $5.3 million with project completion schedule for 2027, Dresser said.

See the presentation on pages 1-10 of the presentation materials. Listen to the discussion at 21:40 on the commission audio.

— Heard from Cultural Resources Manager Brett Lenz that the Wanapum have received a new motorhome to convert into a new Wanapum Discovery Unit mobile museum. The new unit will replace the existing one, which dates to 1999, is worn and in need of repairs. The $164,000 new unit is a 2022 Jayco Precept 36A, which will have more room for displays and better foot traffic. Lenz added that:

  • He and his team monitored 213 archaeological sites this year.
  • The Wanapum are working on an assessment that details the impacts to their community from the now-complete construction on a concrete secondary embankment on the Yakima County side of Priest Rapids Dam, as well as an upcoming project to anchor the dam’s spillway more securely to bedrock. Grant PUD will work with the Wanapum to mitigate for any identified impacts, Lenz said.

See the presentation on pages 11-19 of the presentation materials. Listen to the discussion at 53:06 on the commission audio.

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