Commission recap 10-27-2020: COVID-19 and weather impact on power used in the county

Weather and COVID-19 impacted expected power use this year, according to a presentation by Grant PUD economist Bob Brill given to PUD commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Most customer rate classes saw significant differences between forecasted load for power and actual demand through the third quarter of this year. The initial forecasted load for the whole Grant County power system was 642 megawatts (MW), the actual load was 608 MW.

While the overall load was lower, residential customers saw its actual load increase by 7.2% above initial forecasted demand. Brill stated that growth of overall residential customers in the county and the increased numbers of hours that people are staying in their homes are two of the main reasons for that growth.

Irrigation customers also had significantly higher than expected power use this year, up 35.6%. Weather seemed to be the most significant factor as stated by Brill, with less rain and higher winds than normal weather.

Most commercial and industrial rate categories saw less demand for power, as shutdowns and economic slowdowns related to COVID-19 affected local businesses and industries, he added.

Less power sales in the county are offset by increases in wholesale power prices that have more than doubled since July in both the heavy-load hours and light-load hours, Brill stated.

(Hear the presentation beginning at 50:40 on the commission audio and see the presentation on pages 18-34 of presentation materials.)

Power Delivery looking at performance of grid sections in Grant County

Grant PUD Power Delivery is presently conducting a study to determine how best to improve sections of the local power grid that are underperforming based on a metric called Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI). Grant PUD's system CAIDI goal is less than 110 minutes.

The utility came close to achieving this goal in August when it reached 120 minutes based on a 12-month rolling average, stated Jeff Grizzel, Managing Director of Power Delivery, in his presentation to the commission, but high winds and rain created a spike in prolonged outages in September.

To help achieve CAIDI goals in the future, Grizzel said his department is looking at the performance of each of the "feeder" sections of the power system and determining what changes need to be made to improve the worst-performing feeders.

Areas with the worst-performing feeders include Warden, Mattawa, Moses Lake, Grand Coulee, Potholes and Beverly.

Grizzel said he expects to have a final improvement plan to share with the commissioners in the first quarter of 2021.

(Hear the presentation beginning at 1:20:20 on the commission audio and see the presentation on pages 35-52 of presentation materials.)

Grant PUD awarded $810,000 grant for fiber expansion

Grant PUD learned that it had been awarded a $810,000 grant and qualified for a $810,000 loan to expand its wholesale fiber optic service in Grant County from the Washington State Public Works Board, stated Russ Brethower, Senior Manager of Wholesale Fiber.

The grant money will be used to pay for part of the construction of the Gloyd to Stratford fiber area, which is budgeted to cost about $1.8 million and be finished by the end of the year.

Jeremy Connor, fiber expansion project manager, also gave an update on other areas scheduled for completion this year. Area 11 near Electric City is expected to be finished any day, Connor stated. Area 12 from Cave B to George is planned to be completed on Nov. 16. Area 13 (South Ephrata/Naylordale) and Area 14 (Highway 283 and Road 9 NW) are also expected to be finished by the end of December.

(Hear the presentation beginning at 3:25:00 on the commission audio and see the presentation on pages 62-75 of presentation materials.)

Transmission rates approved by commissioners

Commissioners unanimously approved Rate Schedule 30 and Rate Schedule 31, which sets rates for transmission wholesale delivery of power to customers in Grant County. The rates do not affect most customers in the county who purchase retail power service through Grant PUD.

The initial rates for Rate Schedule 30 will be:

  • $1.90 per kilowatt per month for wholesale 115 kilovolt (kV) service (increasing to $2.51 in 2022)
  • $3.12 for wholesale 13.2 kV (increasing to $4.36 in 2022)
  • $5.02 for combined wholesale service on Jan. 1, 2021 (increasing to $6.87 in 2022)

Wholesale Transmission Rate Schedule 31 will be assessed in the following manner:

  • a.Residential/single-family wholesale rates are will be at 3.873 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)
  • b.Wholesale loads not exceeding 500 kW will be at 2.432 cents per kWh
  • c.Wholesale pumping loads not exceeding 2,500 horsepower at 2.622 cents per kWh

(Listen to the discussion beginning at 2:21:30 of the commission audio. View additional details on pages 28-37 of the commission packet.)

In other business:

  • Commissioners passed Resolution 8952 accepting a Bid and Awarding Contract 430-09972R1, for Plant Power Distribution Modernization.
  • Commissioners passed a motion authorizing the General Manager/CEO, on behalf of Grant PUD, to execute Contract 430- 10632 with CDW Government, Inc. for a three-year renewal of Grant PUD's Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in an amount not-to-exceed $1,372,037.52 to be paid in three annual installments in the amounts of $457,345.84 from August 21, 2020 through August 31, 2023. (3343)
  • Motion authorizing the General Manager/CEO, on behalf of Grant PUD, to bind 2020-2021 property and liability policy renewals through Grant PUD's insurance broker Beecher Carlson with estimated premiums totaling $2,405,751.00. (3344)
  • Commissioners also heard reports from the Safety Department and a follow-up presentation for the proposed 2021 budget.

For more information on the Oct. 27, 2020 commission meeting, click here.