Commission recap, 2/14/2023 — Grant PUD studying bill that would regulate service cut-offs. More...

Grant PUD and other utility companies throughout the state are closely monitoring House Bill 1329 and Senate Bill 5366 as they move through the state legislature.

The companion bills establish statewide protections against power and water disconnects for non-payment during high heat days and were introduced to the legislature at the request of the state Attorney General

Ryan Holterhoff, a senior policy analyst with Grant PUD Government Affairs, explained during a legislative update to Grant PUD Commissioners on Tuesday, Feb. 14 that the bills would call for utilities to suspend disconnects on days when the National Weather Service has issued a heat-related alert within a utility's service area. Grant PUD's present policy suspends disconnects when temperatures are at or above 100 degrees for more than four hours a day.

According to the bill, customers who have had their power or water shut off prior to a heat advisory due to nonpayment, may request the restoration of services during heat alerts. Utilities would be required to turn the services back on if the customers agree to follow a payment plan that will reduce the balance on their accounts.

Holterhoff explained that Grant PUD customer service representatives already help customers behind on their power bills set up payment plans. The representatives will also check to see if a customer qualifies for Grant PUD's Share the Warmth funds, and often refer customers to other agencies for financial help with their bills. Disconnecting customers for nonpayment is the last resort for customers with past due accounts and is typically reserved for customers who are not responsive to repeated attempts to contact them.

"One thing we wanted the legislature to understand is that Grant PUD, as well as many other utilities, already have policies in place to not disconnect customers during extreme temperatures," Holterhoff said. "

This year's state legislature is scheduled to be in session until April 23. The cut-off for a bill to be referred out of a non-financial committee in either the Senate or House is Friday. The last day for a bill to be passed by any fiscal committee is Feb. 24. Hear the full discussion at 3:43:14 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 62-78 of the presentation materials.

Commissioners also: 

Heard a request from the Power Production Engineering Department to add $2.05 million to a contract with Olsson Industrial Electric, Inc. for a new contract total of $15.98 million to replace aged control equipment at both Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams with modern equipment, including transformers, digital relays, switches and breakers. The new equipment is safer, more efficient and requires less maintenance. The old equipment dates to the 1960s. If commissioners approve the motion, upgrade work at Wanapum Dam would begin in Fall 2023 and be complete by Spring, 2024. The upgrade at Priest Rapids Dam would begin in Fall 2024 and be complete by Fall 2025. The change-order request is about cost increases associated with scheduling delays, materials escalation, spare parts, studies, and some re-design efforts. For more information, see pages 1-15 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 34:04 on the commission audio.

— Heard a proposal from Chief Resource Officer Kevin Nordt that would provide a policy to implement certain sections of the 2007 settlement agreement between Grant PUD and the Yakama Nation to make it easier for the Yakama to develop new renewable energy resources. The settlement agreement dates to 2007. It entitles Grant PUD to share in the benefit of any renewable generation created by the Yakama. Nordt's proposed implementation policy would help the Yakama get started on these projects by allowing them to benefit solely from any generation they build, up to the first 2.5 average megawatts. "It really comes down to helping them become masters of their own destiny," Nordt told commissioners. When the settlement agreement took effect, Grant PUD didn't have need for additional carbon-free energy, Nordt said. "We're at a point now for both sides where resource development is probably going to make a lot of sense." For more information, see pages 16-18 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 58:24 on the commission audio.

Heard a report about from the Enterprise Technology group. Charles Meyer, Senior Manager of Enterprise Technology said his group is partnering with area colleges to develop a more robust internship program to encourage area students to begin an Information Technology career with Grant PUD.

Some of the key projects for the group in 2023 include Maximo Expansion, the completion of the ESRI/ArcGIS project that replaces old electric and fiber design tools. The team is also helping with a new operations and business support system, plus a mobile workforce management project. There are also several other ongoing projects to enhance cyber security and upgrade technology tools. Hear the full discussion at 4:24.44 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 79-104 of the presentation materials.

Discussed but later tabled proposed changes to the Grant PUD Telecommunications and Customer Service policies pending a more in-depth discussion at their next commission workshop, 2/21/2023. For more information see pages 21-35 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 1:18:19 on the commission audio.

— Unanimously authorized the general manager/CEO to increase by $350,000 a contract with Northwest Anthropology, LLC for a new, not-to-exceed contract amount of $935,000. The change is necessary to continued monitoring the Priest Rapids Dam right-embankment jobsite for impacts to traditional and cultural properties. Failure to monitor the site during construction would violate national historic-prevention and environmental regulations. Grant PUD is building a federally mandated rolled-concrete embankment on the Yakima County side of Priest Rapids Dam to increase the dam's seismic resistance. For more information, see pages 9-10 in the commission packet.

— Unanimously authorized the general manager/CEO to increase by $709,614 a contract with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. for a new contract total of $3.69 million. The increase is needed to buy additional high-voltage circuit breakers to reliably handle additional forecast load growth. For more information, see pages 249-251 in the commission packet.

— Reviewed seven proposed contracts for the Power Production group. The contracts all provide engineering and consulting support for Grant PUD's dams.

The proposed contracts include:

  • $3.35 million with Jacobs Engineering Group, for a Priest Rapids Dam spillway gate project and projects at the Carlton Acclimation Facility and Priest Rapids Hatchery
  • $2.1 million for Gannett Fleming for construction support for a Priest Rapids Dam spillway stability project
  • $1.6 million for Cornforth Consultant for geotechnical assessment and study of the embankments at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams.
  • $1.25 for Stantec Consulting for construction support of the Priest Rapids Right Embankment Project.
  • $700,000 with HDR Engineering Inc., for geotechnical expertise at Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams.
  • $450,000 with MacKay Sposito, Inc., for dam safety monitoring surveys, drone mapping and small design projects.
  • $75,000 with WEST Consultants Inc., for the development of risk assessments at Wanapum and Priest Rapids.

Hear the full discussion at 3:02.18 on the commission audio. See the presentation on pages 36-61 of the presentation materials.

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates.