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Commission Recap: Commissioners approve of "home-grown" talent and local hiring

Grant PUD commissioners expressed satisfaction Tuesday in the efforts of Power Delivery departments to recruit locally to fill new positions and train new recruits and apprentices internally.

A recent job posting for fiber network tech apprentice attracted approximately 90 applicants, most from Central Washington, Senior Manager of Power Delivery Chris Heimbigner told commissioners.

The Line Department is working to fill two open positions but has seven apprentices undergoing training. The Electric Shop, which services the substations, has three apprentices undergoing training designed and administered in-house.

"You're grabbing ahold of growing our own, that's big for this commission," Commissioner Tom Flint said. "Kudos for taking ahold of that and going with it."

The discussion was part of the third-quarter business report for Power Delivery Construction and Maintenance. For more information, view pages 33-45 of the presentation materials. Hear the full discussion at 1:59:10 on the commission audio.

Commissioners also:

— Received an overview of electric vehicle usage in Washington and the state and federal incentives that exist for buying an electric vehicle and installing commercial charging stations. Officials from Richland-based Energy Northwest cited state statistics showing more than 109,000 electric and hybrid-electric vehicles are registered, statewide. Of those, 331 are registered in Grant County. Energy Northwest is a "joint-operating agency" representing 28-member public power utilities and municipalities. It operates the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant. The agency advocates electric- and other alt-fuel-vehicle use and uses grant funding from various sources to install charging stations within its service territory. For more information and useful links, view pages 1-32 of the presentation materials. Hear the full discussion at 0:41:27 on the commission audio.

— Heard an update about the top anticipated utility-industry issues on the agendas of federal and state lawmakers. The state session begins Jan. 9 and an overview of potential topics for the session were discussed including bills that would protect Grant PUD from liability to recreators from regular operations of its dams and reservoirs, clarify impacts to Grant PUD from state carbon-reduction legislation and support for customer arrearages. For more information, view pages 46-59 of the presentation materials. Hear the full discussion at 4:56:52 on the commission audio.

— Received an update from Internal Audit Manager Dmitriy Turchik of the internal reviews on the roster of the 2022 Audit Plan. These include reviews of Grant PUD's Tuition-Reimbursement Program, cash receipting and deposits, timesheet record keeping, vendor payments, hiring practices and customer billing. Staff will present the commission with the findings of these reviews as the final reports become available. Internal reviews are fundamental assurance that Grant PUD is processes are carried out in accordance with written policy, procedures and applicable regulations. For more information, view pages 60-67 of the presentation materials. Hear the full discussion at 4:50:10 on the commission audio.

— Unanimously authorized the general manager/CEO to sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Beverly-Royal Slope Port District to acquire the 4.81 parcel #31-3815-000 for $83,600 to support future Red Rock Substation buildout. For more details, see pages 8-23 in the commission packet.

— Unanimously authorized the general manager/CEO to increase of $29,397 to Contract 230-2583 with Voith Hydro for a new contract total of $100.38 million for extra welding costs related to the Priest Rapids Dam turbine upgrades. For more details, see pages 24-49 in the commission packet.

— Unanimously authorized to increase the not-to-exceed contract amount by $2.17 million with Fidelity Information Services for a new contract total of $4.09 million and extending the contract completion date to Feb. 28, 2026. Fidelity is an industry leader in providing electronic bill paying, bill printing, mailing and kiosk services, which currently handle more than 66% of total Grant PUD customer payments. For more details, see pages 50-59 in the commission packet.

— Unanimously authorized the general manager/CEO, on behalf of Grant PUD, to execute Contract 430-11621 with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for a not-to-exceed amount of $1.12 million with a contract completion date of Dec. 31, 2024. The contract funds continued monitoring and evaluation of Grant PUD hatchery programs in the Wenatchee and Methow River Basins. For more details, see pages 60-104 in the commission packet.