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


Cultural Resources will have new mobile demonstration vehicle

Commissioners received a cultural resources report from Brett Lenz, manager of Cultural Resources. Lenz said his staff his looking forward to developing a new mobile demonstration vehicle to share the Wanapum Culture during events and outreach activities. The new mobile resource will replace the iconic Wanapum Native American Discovery Unit RV that has been a regular feature for decades at events such as the Grant County Fair and was retired in 2023.

During Lenz’ presentation, Lightening Paul, who is conducting wildlife monitoring in the area around the Wanapum Village, said one of his main duties is to track the number of bald eagles in the area. He said he counted as many as 23 eagles in one day. The number of eagles and other wildlife has decreased during recent construction activities at Priest Rapids Dam. With those activities ending, Paul will continue to monitor to see if the numbers rebound. Eagles and other species of bird, including cliff swallows, ducks and geese have always been closely monitored in the area because the animals’ activities would traditionally help the Wanapum predict weather and availability of food resources, Paul added. Hear the discussion at 3:37:30 of the commission audio and see page 28 of the presentation materials.


First ‘Orange and Blue U’ graduates share their experiences

The first four graduates of Grant PUD’s pilot program for leadership training, “Orange and Blue U,” described for commissioners their personal growth and insights gained.

A year-long, promote-from-within program to train employees to be effective future leaders, Orange and Blue U immerses its participants in all aspects of Grant PUD and the utility business. The four graduates each carried out their regular on-the-job duties, but also spent additional hours receiving mentoring by current Grant PUD leaders, sitting in on industry “insight sessions,” doing self-assessments of their leadership abilities and collaborating on a team project hosted by Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Graduates described their personal and professional growth throughout the process and presented their team project, a 5-year strategic plan for Grant PUD, to commissioners’ rave reviews.

“You guys just knocked this out of the park,” Commssioner Terry Pyle said. Pyle also teaches business and economics courses at Big Bend Community College. “The effort and obvious thought and research you did in preparing was just tremendous. You’re setting the table for others to realize, ‘this is a possibility for me, as well.’”

“Now, we can all take the year off!” Commissioner Tom Flint joked. “I want to congratulate you guys for stepping up, taking the risk and developing some self-enrichment.”

The graduates are Engineer Molly Hill, Change Manager Mindy Klingenberg, Facilities Journeyman Electrician TJ Hossele and Power System Electrician and Training Specialist Casey Raab. Six new participants will be announced soon.

Hear the full discussion at 1:33:03 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 11-29 of the presentation materials.


Commissioners also:

— Grant PUD Treasury Department finalized its second debt transaction for the year Dec. 1, refinancing a short-term bond with a longer, 20-year bond. The reduction in debt service and issuance cost with the new bonds is estimated to save Grant PUD $7.4 million over the life of the bond. Hear the full discussion at 2:27:14 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 57-63 of the presentation materials.

— Chose new Grant PUD commission officers for 2024, as follows: President, Tom Flint; Vice-president, Terry Pyle; Secretary, Larry Schaapman, non-officers will be Judy Wilson and Nelson Cox. Commissioners generally rotate through the annual officer positions, so each one has a fills at each post every five years. Hear the full discussion at 3:39:42  on the commission audio.

Chose new 2024 officers for the Central Washington Power Agency, which was formed in 1962 as a joint-operating agency to participate in or jointly own a generating facility. Such a facility has yet to be developed but could be if needed in the future. Grant PUD Commissioner Larry Schaapman was elected 2024 president, and Kittitas County PUD Commissioner Shan Rowbotham 2024 vice-president.

The agency’s annual meeting took place during Grant PUD’s commission meeting Tuesday. Also present were Kittitas County PUD Commissioners Rick Catlin and Joe O’Leary, and Kittitas County PUD General Manager Matt Boast.  Hear the discussion at 42:04 on the commission audio.

— Learned that the Fish, Wildlife and Water Quality Department has a full roster of projects lined up for 2024, including:

  • Getting ready for a 2025-2027 survival study for yearling chinook, juvenile steelhead and juvenile sockeye.
  • Pre-permitting meetings with key stakeholders are underway to upgrade the siphon intake that supplies water for the Priest Rapids Fish Hatchery. Built in the 1960s, the siphon is currently out of compliance with fish-screening standards.
  • Preparing and planning to implement the Carlton Acclimation Facility Phase II Project. Capital upgrades include new pumps for a production and domestic well, new pump house, and associated utilities and infrastructure. The facility is in Okanogan County and supports Grant PUD’s summer Chinook program.
  • Collaborating with its required external stakeholders to determine the viability of restarting in 2026 the White River spring Chinook hatchery program on the White River in Chelan County. The original requirement under Grant PUD’s NOAA 2008 Biological Opinion was to bolster this Spring Chinook program in the White River. The project was put on hold in 2013 over area residents’ concerns about potential impacts to existing habitat and local and state permitting requirements.
  • Continuing to implement the early detection program for Quagga and Zebra mussels, Northern Pike and other invasive aquatic species. Early detection allows Grant PUD and other regional stakeholders to implement a rapid-response plan to prevent further infestations and/or establishment of a population.

 — Approved Resolution 9039, which superseded Resolution 8768. Resolution 8768 was passed by the commission in 2025, setting targets for how the different rate classes served by Grant PUD would be charged for power based on the utility’s cost of service study. The commissioners voted 4-1, with Tom Flint voting nay, to approve Resolution 9039, which now states that the utility may achieve cost-to-serve targets by Dec. 31, 2024. (Resolution 8768 called for the targets to be reached by Dec. 31, 2023.) Commission president Nelson Cox told those in attendance that the motion gives the commission time to work on long-term rate strategy and targets beyond 2024.  Hear the discussion at 3:22:49 of the commission audio and see page 92 of the commission packet.

— Approved the transfer of $45 million from the Electric Revenue Fund in the Rate Stabilization portion of the Electric System Reserve & Contingency Fund. See page 92 of the commission packet.

— Approved a resolution setting the utilities’ 10-year conservation potential plan and the two-year conservation targets to comply with the state law as part of the Energy Independence Act. Grant PUD has a 10-year conservation potential plan of 163,374 megawatt hours and a two-year conservation target of 33,376 megawatt hours. See page 12 of the commission packet.

— Accepted a bid and awarded a contract for supplying overhead conductor for power extensions and replacement work to General Pacific, Inc. for $1.702 million. See page 85 of the commission packet.

— Passed a resolution to pre-qualify contractors to perform electrical work. See page 97 of the commission packet.

— Approved a change order of $73,143 and extension of one year with a contract for DataPro Solutions, Inc. DataPro provides Grant PUD licensing and support for its File360 digital records and data storage  service. See page 104 of the commission packet.

— Approved an agreement authorizing an interlocal agreement for fire protection and emergency medical services with fire districts that provide service to Grant PUD and Wanapum properties and personnel. See page 115 of the commission packet.

— Passed a contract amendment to a contract with United States Department of Agriculture to increase the amount by $684,244 and extending the completion date to Dec. 31, 2025 to conduct avian predator control activities at Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams. See page 132 of the commission packet.

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