Commission recap, 1/24/2023 — Grant PUD continues to weigh options to increase power supply. More...

As Grant County continues to grow, so does the demand for power. A team from Grant PUD, led by Chief Resource Officer Kevin Nordt, has been working on a plan for when power needs exceed the projected output from the utility's dams and other resources.

Grant PUD expects that it will need to regularly blend in new power resources as early as 2025 during the peak summer and winter seasons. While market purchases can be used in the short-term to meet the demand, a team is exploring several longer-term options, Nordt told the commissioners during his quarterly update.

Along with market purchases, the power-supply team is also exploring developing a power purchasing contract with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). BPA sells power generated at 31 federal dams in the Northwest and the Energy Northwest nuclear-power plant in Richland, to regional public utilities. Grant PUD would expect to take delivery of the additional power from BPA in October of 2028. Grant PUD is presently in discussions with BPA and other public utilities in the region over how much power would be available for Grant County customers.

The team is also exploring developing new generating resources in Grant County. One option is a hydrogen power plant. The hydrogen plant could be powered by on-site solar panels and off-peak external power to produce hydrogen fuel to generate electricity on demand. Another option is the development of nuclear power using "small modular reactor (SMR)" technology with X-energy. Nordt said it would take about 10 years from now before an SMR could realistically be online producing power in Grant County. There isn't a timeline yet for the hydrogen power plant, but it could be deployed sooner, he added.

Nordt also explained to the commissioners that the team continues to look at the potential for other viable generating options in Grant County that would also meet the state's clean-energy requirements. Hear the full discussion at 3:08:22 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 79-97 of the presentation materials.

Cryptocurrency miners going back on Rate Schedule 17

Commissioners approved a resolution updates Rate Schedule 17 – Evolving Industry Service and identifies cryptomining as an Evolving Industry. All cryptominers will be moved to Rate Schedule 17 effective Feb. 1, 2023. Grant PUD staff completed a recent study that reviewed all industries in the County and determined that only cryptomining had met the threshold of current demand plus new requests for cryptocurrency mining power and still exhibited higher risk than other customers for both regulatory and business placing them into the Evolving Industry class subject to Rate Schedule.

The change means that a Grant PUD cryptocurrency mining customer with a 92% load factor and electric demand of 2,000 kilowatts, presently served under Rate Schedule 7 – Large General Service, where they pay about 2.6 cents per kilowatt hour, will now purchase power at 4.86 cents per kilowatt hour when Rate Schedule 17 takes effect for them on February 1. The miners had been moved to Rate Schedule 7 in 2020 because their current demand and future requests fell below the threshold to be considered an Evolving Industry making Rate Schedule 17 applicable.

Before the unanimous vote, Larry Schaapman encouraged the commission and staff to explore the idea of developing a rate solely for cryptocurrency mining, rather than applying Rate Schedule 17 - Evolving Industry Service to their businesses.

Hear the full discussion at 2:49:00 on the commission audio. See the page 7 of the of the commission meeting packet.

Power plant availability exceeds target for 2022

Ty Ehrman, managing director of Power Production, brought his fourth-quarter 2022 report on Safety, Plant Performance and Capital Project Update to the Commissioners.

Safety is a good-news story with many metrics showing positive movement. The Vehicle Incident Monthly Total was zero for all three months, as was the Recordables Monthly Total. Another big success was 100% Safety Meeting attendance for all of Power Production in December, which also has to do with a little friendly competition with the Power Delivery side of the house!

Plant performance for the year is to be celebrated as the Actual Availability exceeded the target in all 12 months. The Project Forced Outage Factor was below the goal for the year as well (closer to zero is better for this metric). The combination of this performance netted an additional 444,000 megawatts availability in 2022 over 2021 for an estimated increase in value for our customers of $5,655,543.

Ehrman gave a Capital Project update with the positive news that the Priest Rapids Right Embankment Improvement Project (PRREIP) and P07 Generator Rehabilitation are trending with early completion dates. He gave a shout out to the Project Management Office for their assistance in scheduling on the Priest Rapids Unit Rehabs which has made a big difference.

In highlighting the Power Production Engineering Technicians, Dale Campbell, Senior Manager of Power Production, demonstrated how the team and the 37,000 drawings that they are responsible for are key to success for staff needs, new regulations pose ever-increasing challenges for them. He added that they act as a "farm team" promoting to other positions within Power Production.

Hear the full discussion at 1:03:07 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 15-39 of the presentation materials.

Power Delivery gives year-end report

Power Delivery Managing Director, Ron Alexander, brought his end-of-year 2022 business report for review. The top three items, plus the safety report, are noted below.

The System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) were discussed with Dennis Chesnakov, Power Delivery engineer. Both indexes were below the goals set. These goals were set significantly below the average Washington State PUD SAIDI and SAIFI goals, further highlighting that system interruptions are lower than average. The goals will continue to be reviewed by Chesnakov to have the lowest possible interruptions and continue system improvements to our Transmission and Distribution grids.

Ryan Larsen, project manager, gave an update on the Corner Grounded Delta project. This is a $2 million project that will update approximately 36 mainly irrigation metering configurations. This will increase safety for irrigation customers and is expected to be completed under budget by the end of March.

Hear the full discussion at 1:39:00 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 40-59 of the presentation materials.

Weather affects power demand for residential customers

Grant PUD Economist Amanpreet Singh gave the 2022 budget forecast vs actual for all retail energy use. For 2022, the total retail load variance was 2.2%.

Key rate schedule variances in 2022 are:

  • Residential (Rate Schedule 1) ended 11.1% over budget due to colder than normal temperatures.
  • General Service (Rate Schedule 2) was slightly lower at 2.2% and 61 aMW
  • Irrigation (Rate Schedule 3) was exactly on its forecasted 68 aMW for a 0% variance.
  • Large Industrial (Rate Schedule 15) was 255 aMW, 2.6% above budget
  • Cryptocurrency update on actual load for Q4 at approximately 28 average megawatts.

Hear the full discussion at 2:25:31 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 60-77 of the presentation materials.

Slips and falls account for six reported injuries

Ron Roth, Senior Safety Coordinator, presented the December 2022 Safety Report. For the month of December there were six total injuries reported. All six of these were slips and fall injuries due to the icy winter weather. In total for 2022 there were 48 total injuries reported, up from the prior year's 25. Commissioner Larry Schaapman commented about the comparison with 2021 noting that in the prior year many people were still working remotely, keeping our numbers down.

Roth reminded everyone to "walk like a penguin" on ice and snow, for safety.

Hear the full discussion at 43:31 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 1-14 of the presentation materials.

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