Grant PUD announces potential leadership changes
On January 12, Tony Webb announced a succession plan to Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) commissioners which outlines his transition out of the general manager role.
Per the proposed plan, Webb recommended that current Chief Financial Officer Kevin Nordt assume the general manager position effective June 2016. The succession plan fulfills a longstanding request by the board to ensure a seamless transition in anticipation of Webb’s eventual retirement from the utility. After Nordt assumes the position of general manager, Webb will continue to serve in a senior leadership capacity.
Webb was appointed as general manager in 2013 after serving in various leadership roles within the utility since 1990.
“I want to make sure that I leave this place in good hands,” said Webb. “The board has always wanted assurance that there would be strong leadership in place when I leave and I believe Kevin has the experience and abilities necessary to lead. I think this is an example of proactive succession planning which is critical to maintaining the continuity of operations here at Grant PUD.”
A resolution regarding the proposed succession plan will be reviewed by commissioners at their January 26 meeting before any formal action can be taken.
Nordt has over two decades of experience in the Northwest energy industry and has held various leadership roles within Grant PUD since his arrival to the utility in 2004.
BPA Chief Financial Officer Nancy Mitman announces retirement
Chief Financial Officer Nancy Mitman announced on January 11 that she will retire from the Bonneville Power Administration in July 2016.
Mitman, who was appointed executive vice president and chief financial officer in September 2014, began her career at BPA in 1988 as an accountant and steadily rose through the ranks of financial management and leadership. As CFO, Mitman oversees capital and debt management, accounting, cash management, and budgeting for BPA’s $4.3 billion total budget.
“The Northwest has benefited greatly from Nancy’s incredible wealth of knowledge of federal budgeting and BPA’s financial infrastructure,” said BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer. “Throughout her tenure, Nancy has kept a steadfast focus on keeping our costs low, maintaining thorough and transparent financial records, and building business practices that are both modern and efficient. In addition, she has brought a longer-term perspective to the comprehensive financial health of our organization that will bring even more benefits to the region for decades to come.”
Before serving as CFO, Mitman acted as BPA’s executive vice president and chief financial officer for more than a year. During that period, BPA conducted the first Capital Investment Review, a public process that involves a new, cross-agency capital prioritization and allows interested parties the opportunity to comment on BPA’s draft asset strategies and 10-year capital forecasts. In addition to multiple stints as acting chief financial officer, she also served as BPA’s treasurer and deputy chief financial officer.
“It’s been a privilege to work with the people at BPA, sharing their passion for public service,” Mitman said. “BPA’s important public responsibilities and the evolution of our industry have offered a multitude of opportunities to contribute to achieving regional benefits and giving back to the community I call home.”
Mitman wanted to make this announcement ahead of her retirement date in order to provide an orderly transition to a new CFO. This should allow more than enough time to conduct the federal selection process and provide a brief overlap period before her departure. BPA will soon post a vacancy announcement for the next chief financial officer, a Senior Executive Service position.
Okanogan PUD commissioners elect Vejraska for leadership position
During the January 11, 2016, regular Okanogan PUD (Wash.) Board of Commissioners meeting, it was determined that District #1 Commissioner Scott Vejraska will serve as Okanogan PUD Board of Commissioners president for the 2016 year. District #2 Commissioner Steve Houston will act as vice president and District #3 Commissioner Ernie Bolz will be secretary.
As set by state law, Okanogan PUD is governed by a board of elected commissioners. Each commissioner represents a defined geographic section of the county. Their terms are six years. It is the board’s responsibility to set utility policy and to hire and oversee the work of the general manager.
Douglas PUD Commission reorganizes
The Douglas County PUD Board of Commissioners was reorganized during its commission meeting on January 11 at the District’s East Wenatchee office. T. James Davis was elected to be president, Molly Simpson will be vice president/assistant secretary, and Ronald E. Skagen will be secretary/treasurer.
At the meeting, Commissioner Simpson also received her one-year service award. Commissioner Davis congratulated her on her first of many years of service and said it has been an honor to serve with her. In thanking everyone, Simpson said the year has gone fast and she appreciates all the support.
Ron Gadeberg recognized for 10 years of service to Okanogan PUD
At the January 11, 2016, regular Okanogan PUD (Wash.) Board of Commissioners meeting, the PUD honored Ron Gadeberg for 10 years of service to the utility. Gadeberg joined the Okanogan PUD on January 9, 2006, as a power resource analyst. In January 2008, he was awarded the managing director of power supply position. His title changed in 2012 to director of power resources and broadband services, and is the position he currently holds.
WPUDA presents 2015 Legislative Champion Award to Senator Curtis King
The Washington PUD Association (WPUDA) honored Senator Curtis King with the Association’s Legislative Champion Award for 2015. The award recognizes a Washington state legislator or member of Congress that has shown a leadership role in pursuing passage of WPUDA-supported legislation or preventing passage of legislation that would negatively impact PUDs.
Senator King was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5424 and his leadership played a vital role in passage of the legislation. The bill passed both houses of the legislature with overwhelming support with Representative Norm Johnson, also from the 14th District, providing leadership in the House to help facilitate passage.
The legislation signed into law provides the first new utility authority for PUDs since wholesale telecommunications was authorized in 2000, allowing PUDs to produce and sell renewable natural gas as a renewable transportation fuel. It also provides authority for PUDs to own and operate natural gas fueling stations in counties in which they are authorized to do business, and provides limited authority to own and operate natural gas pipelines that transport renewable natural gas.
The legislation allows Klickitat PUD to expand their landfill gas project to produce and sell renewable natural gas from the landfill as a transportation fuel; build, own, and operate a natural gas pipeline to connect with a natural gas transmission pipeline; and potentially open a natural gas fueling station at the landfill or elsewhere in the county. It also opens the door for Whatcom County PUD (and other PUDs) to expand their work with dairies in the area to produce and sell renewable natural gas from dairy digesters. The legislation was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate and the bill was signed by Governor Jay Inslee. It went into effect July 26, 2015.
Senator King was thanked for his leadership by WPUDA members and presented with a plaque recognizing his dedicated work to champion the bill.
New year brings snow and rain, bolstering PCWA supplies
At its January 7 meeting, the Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) Board of Directors received its first snowpack and water supply report of the year. Latest snowpack levels in the American River basin measured 15.8 inches of water equivalent, which is 100 percent of the 30-year average and three times higher than the peak achieved in 2015.
“Considering the past two dry years, the forecast is very favorable,” PCWA General Manager Einar Maisch said. “We are experiencing storms very much in line with a typical El Nino pattern, and continued wet weather will help build the snowpack and fill our mountain reservoirs.”
The encouraging weather comes at the same time the State Water Resources Control Board considers extending current drought regulations. Although proposed changes to the regulations may bring some relief, Board members expressed dismay that the reliability of local supplies are not being considered. Storage for Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s (PG&E) Drum-Spaulding System currently sits at 113,000 acre-feet, 118 percent of normal for this time of the year. PCWA’s Middle Fork Project storage sits at 99,000 acre-feet, 58 percent of normal.
In addition to the water supply and drought update, the board received an update from both PCWA and PG&E staff regarding diesel that leaked into a canal that feeds the Alta water treatment plant.
The leak was likely a result of an accident that occurred on Interstate 80 on December 29. The contamination has been isolated, and water is being re-routed from PG&E’s system directly to PCWA’s system, bypassing the contamination. PG&E continues to work diligently on clean-up efforts. Water samples in the downstream drinking water system continue to show no detection of contamination; however, a slight odor of diesel may still be present. No water quality issues have been detected beyond the Alta water system and – to date – not one health standard has been exceeded.
Salem Electric community involvement and beyond
Cooperatives are historically good community partners and Salem Electric (Ore.) is no exception. What helps to make a good community partner? Having employees who are willing to give their best during the work day and put in extra effort when needed.
In early December, Salem Electric employees Ed Johnson, Adam Deshon, and Cindy Lenker traveled to Cap Haitian, Haiti, as part of a group working to help provide improved electrical service to Bethesda Medical Clinic. The clinic is a ministry of One Mission Society (OMS), a non-denominational Christian organization who has served in Haiti for over 50 years. Although the clinic provides some of the best medical care available in Northern Haiti, consistent, reliable electricity was illusive.
In 2015 OMS started the installation of a new, underground electrical system for their 32-acre campus. The design and installation of the clinic’s electrical service is one of the last pieces of the project. Deshon, an electrical engineer, and Johnson, a journeyman lineman, both volunteered their time and expertise to work on the project. Lenker provided the connection between sharing the clinic’s electrical need and inviting her co-workers to Haiti.
“My husband and I love Haiti. Being able to provide a resource for a need is a great feeling,” said Lenker. “Adam and Ed were both willing to step in, using their vacation time, and help out. Having those kinds of co-workers make working at Salem Electric even better.”
An old Haitian proverb says, “Little by little the bird builds its nest.” Although the electrical project wasn’t able to be completed in the week the group was in Haiti, key pieces were assessed and progress was made. On the flight home, Deshon was already working on the next phase of the project and was overheard saying to Johnson, “On the next trip…”
Chelan commissioners to open public hearing process on proposed HDL rate
On January 18, Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners directed staff to address six issues that were identified in public listening sessions regarding a proposed rate for high-density loads.
After more than a year of study, PUD commissioners are considering a new electric rate for operations with intense energy use of 250 kilowatt-hours per square-foot or more per year such as bitcoin miners.
The hearing at 1 p.m. on February 1 at the District’s Wenatchee Headquarters starts the formal consideration of the high-density load (HDL) rate and follows three community meetings held earlier this month. The commission decided it will not make a final rates decision on February 1.
On Monday, Customer Service Director Andrew Wendell summarized for commissioners the six themes that emerged at the meetings. Wendell said they are:
- “Grandfather” existing HDL customers
- Consider a change in rate structure alternatives
- Consider increased upfront cost recovery
- Consider schedule alternatives for putting the rate into place
- Allocate energy limits for an HDL rate class
- Create a forum for further discussion of the proposed HDL rate
Commissioners asked staff to invite potential HDL rate customers to organize a forum to present information on their business models; potential high-density loads under current and proposed rates; and the economic impacts of high-density loads in Chelan County. Plans are to hold the forum the first week of February.
More information about the proposed HDL is on the PUD website.
Two $50,000 Greenpower Grants available from EWEB
The Eugene Water & Electric Board (Ore.) is now accepting applications for two 2016 Greenpower Grants worth up to $50,000 each to fund high-impact projects, research, and education that drive advancements in renewable energy for the utility’s customers.
Since 2007, thousands of EWEB customers have chosen to support clean, renewable energy by purchasing EWEB Greenpower. They buy $1.50 or $10 "blocks" of Greenpower, or voluntarily dedicate 100 percent of their energy use to Greenpower by paying an extra penny per kilowatt-hour of consumption.
EWEB developed the Greenpower Grant Program to help reinvest some of these funds into renewable energy projects, education, and research. The annual grants are open to tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, or government and other public agencies.
The grants will be awarded in April. The grant application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2016.
EWEB will once again invite Greenpower customers to choose the recipients. A team of EWEB employees will screen grant applicants in late February, and select a handful of eligible projects for consideration. Only active EWEB Greenpower customers as of March 25 will be able to vote for their favorite project when ballots go out on March 28.
Funding criteria and grant applications are available at eweb.org/greenpower/grants. Past grant recipients include Bethel School District, Berggren Demonstration Farm, Relief Nursery, and River Road Park and Recreation District.
Rock Island Dam denil fish passage removal successful
Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) contractors successfully removed the second of three denil fish passageways during the weekend. PUD and contractor crews worked all night Saturday and Sunday with good river conditions to complete the work. The Rock Island reservoir is back to normal levels this morning.
The reservoir was lowered about two feet in order to reduce river flow on the downriver side of the dam to allow safe removal of the second denil. The first denil on the right bank was removed on January 9, 2016. The third denil on the left bank will be removed within the next several weeks. It’s not anticipated that the reservoir level will be affected for removing the third denil. Power House 2 is back in full operation.
The three denils were installed to aid fish passage in 2014 in response to the Wanapum Dam situation. They were intended to be a temporary measure until the Wanapum reservoir levels returned to normal. The removal of the denils now is optimal since fish passage and irrigation are not an issue and was planned for after the reservoir situation stabilized early in 2015.
Cyberattack shuts down power in Western Ukraine
On January 11, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) reported that a cyberattack in Ukraine resulted in a power outage that affected 700,000 people last month. It was the first cyberattack known to have caused a power outage, according to NRECA.
In the attached document, NRECA Cyber Security Analyst George Walker and NRECA Chief Scientist Dr. Craig Miller provide analysis of the cyberattack incident and talk about what electric utilities can do to prevent such an attack from occurring on their systems.
Correction to the December 2015 Bulletin:
The Call for 2016-2017 NWPPA Board nominations article on page 6 incorrectly named the utility type of the one vacant utility member seat on our board of trustees. The correct vacant position is for a general manager from a Washington municipal, not a PUD.
For those utility members interested in serving on the NWPPA Board of Trustees, please submit a letter identifying the nominee’s desire to serve as well as some background information (bio with other community/industry service) to Terry LaLiberte, NWPPA Nominating Committee Chair, 9817 NE 54th Street, Suite 200, Vancouver, WA 98662. Board nominations may also be emailed to Anita Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations for board seats must be received by February 1, 2016.