Public Power Announcements

One Week Left to Submit E&O Award Nominations and Safety Contest Entries

(Feb. 22) Next Thursday, Feb. 29, is the final day to submit your nominations for the Engineering & Operations Awards and enter the Safety Contest. Ensure your utility receives recognition for its safe practices and that the outstanding people in our industry receive the recognition they deserve by entering the contest or submitting a nomination at www.nwppa.org/awards-nominations. Awards will be presented April 11 at the Engineering & Operations Conference and Trade Show in Tacoma, Washington. More details about the awards are listed below.

  • Safety Contest Awards: Presented to utilities based on the lowest total injury and illness (incidence) rate for the preceding year. To enter the contest, utilities report the data from their OSHA Form 300A or the data that would be included on the form. Utilities that are not required to complete the OSHA form can still participate.
  • Career Commitment to Safety Award: Recognizes an individual who exemplifies outstanding commitment and leadership in safety.
  • The Milton Hunt McGuire Award for Engineering/Operations: Honors an individual who has made a contribution to the industry as a whole.
  • Safety Heroism Award: Honors an individual or team that displayed an act of unselfish and voluntary assistance in a situation where life, significant injury, or significant property loss would have been incurred but for the efforts of the individual or team.

LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock Accepts New Position at PNGC Power

(Feb. 20) La Plata Electric Association (Durango, Colo.) Chief Executive Officer Jessica Matlock has been hired as the CEO of PNGC Power, the sole operating generation and transmission cooperative in the Pacific Northwest that serves power to 16 utilities in seven western states. Matlock was hired by the LPEA Board of Directors in spring 2019 and began her CEO tenure that summer.

Since Matlock took over as CEO of LPEA in 2019, she led the charge to strengthen LPEA’s financial position for its members. Prior to Matlock’s tenure as CEO, LPEA ranked near the bottom of financial performance for cooperatives, but it is now in the top three in Colorado. Under Matlock’s leadership, LPEA also built the first cooperative-owned community solar project in the region, partnered to bring the first vehicle-to-grid system to Colorado, and implemented sophisticated grid monitoring systems to increase LPEA’s resiliency and response times.

“I am extremely proud of the team we’ve built at LPEA and the many strategic items we’ve been able to accomplish these past five years,” Matlock said. “While I am very much looking forward to my next career opportunity leading a G&T, I am also excited that my LPEA colleagues and the LPEA Board are in a much stronger position than when I arrived to capitalize on the ever-changing and dynamic energy marketplace and continue providing great service to all our members throughout the region.”

Matlock’s first day as PNGC Power’s CEO will be April 1. The LPEA Board of Directors will begin implementing a transition plan to address the organization’s short and long-term leadership needs.


TDPUD Board Looks at Draft Integrated Resource Plan

(Feb. 21) Truckee Donner PUD’s (Calif.) board of directors meeting on Feb. 7 included a detailed presentation and discussion led by industry-expert consultant Aspen Environmental on the TDPUD Integrated Resource Plan.

For electric utilities, integrated resource plans are a powerful tool to determine the electric resources that will need to be procured in the future by understanding current customer demands and available resources; projecting customer demand by year, month, day, and hour; and identifying opportunities to work with customers to help them control their energy usage.

In 2023, TDPUD’s board awarded a contract to Aspen Environmental for their team of industry-leading experts to create TDPUD’s first integrated resource plan. This extensive project reviewed:

  • TDPUD’s current customer demand, electric resource portfolio, and opportunities to work with customers to reduce and/or shift demand during a given day.
  • Regulatory mandates, such as California’s 100% clean energy by 2045 requirement.
  • Opportunities to procure electric resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage.

The IRP was presented to the TDPUD board as an informational workshop. The questions and feedback from the board will be incorporated into a final integrated resource plan, which will be brought back to the board for adoption at a future meeting.

“TDPUD’s IRP will represent a roadmap to advancing power supply to meet financial, environmental, and regulatory requirements,” said TDPUD’s electric utility director, Jared Carpenter. “The overall deficiency of power plants in the Western United States has made energy procurement more challenging than ever. How and when our customers use electricity matters because each hour of the day has different generation and cost considerations, but this creates opportunities to work together to save money while minimizing our impacts to the environment.”


First Graders Present Central Lincoln PUD Line Crew With Thank-You Book

CentralLincolnPUD
First graders present lineworkers with their thank-you picture books.
CentralLincolnPUD-
Students gather outside to see the bucket truck and digger truck.

(Feb. 21) The ice storm and outages that affected many parts of Oregon in early 2024 taught some important lessons. Most people realized they weren’t quite as prepared for an emergency as they thought. It also reminded many people how much they take for granted the luxuries they’ve grown accustomed to—specifically, having electricity in their homes.

One of the most valuable takeaways for employees of Central Lincoln PUD (Newport, Ore.) was the outpouring of appreciation and support from the communities they serve. This appreciation and support came in kind words shared on the PUD’s social media, in emails, by word of mouth, in the deliveries of coffee and baked goods, and by phone. One of the sweetest gestures came from the first graders at Yaquina View Elementary School in Newport, Oregon. The students created a thank-you book filled with drawings and kind words for Central Lincoln crews.

On Feb. 8, a Central Lincoln PUD line crew visited those first graders to receive the book and say thank you. The visit started with a brief question-and-answer session and concluded outside with an up-close view of a large bucket truck and a digger truck.

“It’s safe to say the visit was equally as fun for the students as it was for the linemen!” Central Lincoln PUD reported.


Umatilla Electric Conducts Rooftop Solar Presentation for Community

UEC Energy Efficiency Representative Jackie Caldera
UEC Energy Efficiency Representative Jackie Caldera discusses solar options with a local solar installer at the cooperative’s Solar Presentation Event in Hermiston, Oregon, on Feb. 7.

(Feb. 20) On Feb. 7, Umatilla Electric Cooperative (Hermiston, Ore.) conducted a solar presentation and workshop, the first of its kind hosted by UEC. Energy Efficiency Representatives Jackie Caldera and Chandra Harvey presented on rooftop solar, net metering, and impacts on members’ electric bills. The team also prepped members with questions to ask of installers and factors to consider when determining whether solar may be the right fit for their household.

In 2023 alone, UEC’s rooftop solar installations increased by 68%. The solar event was designed as an opportunity to encourage community members to research thoroughly before deciding to install a rooftop array. UEC welcomed over 60 individuals to the event and engaged with the community to answer questions.


Chelan PUD Announces Riverwalk Park Improvements

(Feb. 20) Chelan PUD plans to restore the shoreline and improve waterfront access points at Riverwalk Park in Chelan, Washington, starting March 4.

The work spans three areas:

  • Near the sewer lift station between West Okanogan Avenue and West Wooden Avenue
  • From the wooden viewing area at South First Street and West Okanogan Avenue to the boardwalk west of Webster Avenue.
  • Across the parking lot at East Farnham Avenue.

Park visitors can expect temporary closures of Riverwalk Trail during construction. The work is expected to wrap up in late April depending on conditions.

The project will help stabilize about 520 feet of riverbank with boulders, river cobble, native trees and shrubs, and protect the area from further erosion. Erosion of the shore can be caused by wind; reservoir fluctuations; boat wakes close to shore; or human activity, such as unauthorized trails or throwing rocks from the shore.

“On the south shore especially, the bank has receded close to 20 feet, and that’s valuable park land we will never get back,” Chelan PUD Parks Manager Ryan Baker said. “We’re really excited to start this project.”

Park improvements include safe and better waterfront access for stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks, as well as new picnic tables and benches. Crews plan to build a flat-rock staircase feature leading into the water near the wooden viewing area at the end of First Street. After the work is finished, crews will install split-rail fencing to protect the newly rehabilitated shoreline from further erosion, promote the establishment of native plants, and encourage visitors to use the improved waterfront access points.

“We want to be good stewards of Riverwalk Park, and we’ll try to keep any short-term impacts of this work to a minimum,” Baker said. “This is a well-loved park, and we want to thank the community for their patience.”


Flathead Electric Co-op Awarded CIDER Funding

(Feb. 19) Flathead Electric Cooperative (Kalispell, Mont.) was recently selected as one of five cooperatives in the nation to participate in a Community-Integrated Distributed Energy Resilience (CIDER) Initiative, a $4 million project led by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The project’s purpose is to advance grid resiliency through increased reliability and power supply cost savings.

“As stewards of our community’s energy future, we’re thrilled about this opportunity to explore new grid strategies that can help us address evolving grid challenges,” said FEC Community Relations Manager Katie Pfennigs. “Our participation in this initiative reflects the co-op’s continued commitment to collaborative approaches and innovative solutions that empower our members, uphold our commitment to power affordability, and enhance grid reliability.”

As part of the study, participating cooperatives, including Flathead Electric, will pilot distributed energy resource programs that utilize software to shift or reduce electric demand from participating members when extreme weather conditions impact the grid or when power prices spike. While members who participate in these programs will benefit directly from reduced electrical demand during peak periods, these programs are ultimately designed to benefit all co-op members by ensuring reliable power supply and keeping electricity bills lower.

Grant funding will provide a distributed energy resource management system and home energy optimization or “virtual battery” software. Together, these platforms can automatically adjust various behind-the-meter resources that many members already use, including rooftop solar, electric vehicle chargers, water heaters, battery storage, and smart thermostats.

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Chugach Electric Pursues Community Solar Program

(Feb. 16) Chugach Electric Association (Anchorage, Alaska) is moving forward on a community solar program that will allow members to voluntarily subscribe and receive solar energy from the project. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska approved the utility’s request for an initial three-year pilot period.

“We are pleased the RCA has approved our filing that will allow members who are unable to put solar on their property to take advantage of renewable energy,” said Chugach CEO Arthur Miller. “Our members have shown great interest in a community solar project for several years, and we look forward to moving forward on this project.”

Chugach’s plan includes a 500-kilowatt, four-acre community solar project with 1,280 panels available for a 12-month subscription. Members electing to enroll in the service will submit an application and may request up to 20 panels per meter. On a monthly basis, the energy produced by the project will be applied equally across the total number of panels to determine the share to be allocated to each meter. Based on the number of panels in a member’s subscription, the production share will be applied on the monthly bill to offset kilowatt-hours the member would have otherwise purchased. A request for proposals will be issued in the coming days for an independent power producer to design, build, and operate the project, which is located at Chugach’s Retherford Substation in South Anchorage.

The schedule anticipates member applications to be accepted beginning Oct. 1, construction to be completed by the end of this year, and the program to be online by March 1, 2025. Pricing will be better known after the RFP process is complete.

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Survey Finds PCWA Water Quality Remains Among the Best in America

Rubicon River
The Rubicon River is a tributary of the Middle Fork American River, where PCWA’s Hell Hole Reservoir is located.

(Feb. 15) A new independent survey of conditions in Placer County Water Agency’s (Auburn, Calif.) American River watershed has found that water quality remains excellent overall, despite some initial concerns following recent forest fires and the subsequent erosion of ash and sediment.

The PCWA Board of Directors on Feb. 15 heard a report from Starr Consulting of Colfax about water quality during the five-year period from January 2018 to December 2022 in the American River watershed.

The survey found that PCWA’s drinking water quality far exceeds regulatory requirements. It also found no need to modify PCWA’s drinking water treatment activities.

“The American River Watershed survey confirmed that PCWA’s drinking water supply from the American River continues to be of exceptionally high quality,” said consultant Bonny Starr. “The survey again reveals that watershed vulnerabilities are being managed to ensure protection of the drinking water supply.”

The survey identifies potential contaminants from human and natural activities and how PCWA can manage those contaminants, ensuring drinking water remains safe and reliable. The survey assesses turbidity (suspended sediment), microbiological germs (E. coli, cryptosporidium, giardia), and chemical contaminants that may occur as a result of spills or historic mining.

The last survey, also by Starr Consulting, likewise found exceptional water quality throughout PCWA’s American River source watershed, which Starr said, “is essentially snow melt.”

But since then, nearly 200,000 acres of the American River watershed have burned due to wildfires. The largest of these, the Mosquito Fire, burned more than 76,000 acres and led to significant erosion. Thus, a concern existed that water quality might be compromised.

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Tantalus Systems Partners With GE Appliances to Provide Energy Demand Management

(Feb. 22) Tantalus Systems and GE Appliances, a Haier company, this week announced a partnership that will revolutionize the way home appliances, HVAC systems and water heaters use real-time data to manage energy delivery and consumption. The industry-first GE Appliances EcoBalance System in partnership with Savant will integrate with Tantalus’ TRUSense Gateway to cycle individual home appliances, including air and water heating products, to support grid modernization initiatives.

GE Appliances EcoBalance System in partnership with Savant provides market-leading capabilities allowing consumers to control their energy management of home appliances, HVAC systems, and water heaters. Tantalus’ TRUSense Gateway is installed between existing meters and meter sockets, eliminating the costly and labor-intensive process of replacing all the meters in a utility service area.

Tantalus helps more than 285 utilities and energy providers modernize their distribution grids by harnessing the power of data across devices and systems deployed from the substation to home appliances, water heaters, HVAC systems, or electric vehicle chargers. By adding Tantalus to the GE Appliances EcoBalance System, products will be able to communicate with energy companies. For example, refrigerator defrost or ice cycles can run during off-peak hours, water heaters can be charged with energy for use later in the day, and HVAC systems can be adjusted a few degrees to save energy and reduce peak demand.

These capabilities can be leveraged to help utilities reduce their carbon footprint and balance energy load profiles—without sacrificing performance or style. In addition, the technology is useful when utilities are planning for natural disasters. Certain items, like water heaters, can be charged with electricity in advance of an incoming storm and used as a thermal storage device if power is disrupted.

Tantalus Systems is a smart grid technology company focused on helping build sustainable utilities. For more information, visit www.tantalus.com.


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