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Haarlow Appointed New SnoPUD CEO

On October 1, the Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution appointing John Haarlow as the new chief executive officer/general manager, effective October 8. Haarlow, previously a PUD assistant general manager, replaces Craig Collar, who retired in June.

“As the energy landscape and our customers’ needs change, we’re very pleased to have selected a candidate with such an extensive background in the electric utility industry,” said PUD Board of Commissioners President Kathleen Vaughn.

Haarlow joined the PUD in February 2017 as assistant general manager of Distribution & Engineering Services, bringing nearly 30 years of experience in the electric utility industry. Before joining the PUD, Haarlow worked for the Public Service Company of New Mexico, serving as both director of Safety and Transmission and Distribution Engineering and Operations. He began his career at the Central Illinois Light Company where he was an IBEW journeyman for 10 years.

Debra Smith to Head SCL

On October 1, Seattle City Council approved Mayor Jenny Durkan’s pick, Debra Smith, as the next CEO and general manager of Seattle City Light (Wash.). Durkin described Smith as the right leader to improve City Light’s workplace culture, customer service, and long-term planning despite coming from a much smaller utility. She began on October 15.

Smith has served since 2013 as CEO and general manager of the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, which provides electricity on Oregon’s central coast. She previously spent more than 17 years in various roles at the Eugene Water and Electric Board (Ore.). Seattle City Light has a budget of $1.4 billion and 1,800 employees.

“Debra is the right person at the right time to take the helm,” the mayor said.

Jim Baggs, a longtime City Light executive, has been serving as the utility’s interim boss.

Electric Company Hires Manager

Curry Coastal Pilot (09/28/2018) 

A nationwide search has resulted in the hiring of Brent Bischoff as general manager and CEO of Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, the board announced Tuesday morning.

Bischoff replaces retiring CEO Roger Meader Jan. 1.

Bischoff is the senior manager of power delivery engineering at Grant County public utility district (PUD). Priorbr to that, he worked as general manager at Skamania County PUD, several management positions within Bonneville Power Administration and with the U.S. Navy as a nuclear submarine officer.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Idaho.

He and his wife Sharon currently live in Moses Lake, Washington.

“Brent has the background and demonstrated leadership skills to successfully lead CCEC,” said board chair John Herzo. “His selection had unanimous support of the board amongst a particularly strong field of candidates.”

Meader has served at CCEC for 12 years, after serving as general manager of Okanogan County Electric Cooperative in Washington.

“Roger has excelled at creating a culture of excellence at CCEC,” Herzog said. “He has been a great leader and will be missed. We wish him well in his retirement.”

CCEC provides electric utility service to members in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties and is a member of PNGC Power, Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Touchstone Energy.

Snohomish PUD Linemen Take Top Honors in Wash. State Poletop Rescue Competition

Taking on teams from a dozen utilities across Washington, Snohomish PUD’s (Everett, Wash.) two-man team of Journeyman Lineman Troy Benfield and Apprentice Lineman Matt Kimball finished as champions in last week’s 45th annual Washington State Pole Top Rescue Competition in Spokane, Wash.

It’s the third year in a row that a PUD team has finished in the top spot at the competition. Journeyman Linemen Jake Morgan and Dan Wittenberg won the Washington Pole Top Rescue Competition the past two years.

Benfield and Kimball scored high enough in the final round to beat the other 11 teams from Inland Power & Light, Tacoma Power, Seattle City Light, Grant PUD, Elmhurst Power, Potelco, Pend Oreille PUD, Lewis PUD, Avista, Centralia Light & Power, and Okanogan PUD.

The pole-top rescue competition consists of a pole-top rescue and CPR test. The first part of the competition is the actual pole-top rescue. Teams, with their back to the pole, are told the location, circuit information, and details on the rescue scenario. They then have a short amount of time – two minutes in the first round and one minute in the final – to brainstorm a solution before the clock starts.

The Energy Experience Returns to The REACH on October 9

The REACH Interpretive Center in the Tri-Cities, Wash., is collaborating with local energy partners to host the third annual Energy Experience, a STEM-focused energy and environmental summit for eight-grade students in the Mid-Columbia region on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Partners of the event include the Benton Conservation District, Benton PUD, Benton REA, Bonneville Power Administration, Cascade Natural Gas, City of Richland Energy Services, Energy Northwest, and Franklin PUD. An estimated 584 students and their teachers from the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas will be attending.

The objective of the event is to create awareness and understanding of energy generation, safety, energy efficiency, and public power. The day’s events will focus on the Common Core and Next-Generation science standards for eight graders. The primary focus will be on educating students on various forms of energy, including hydropower, nuclear, wind, solar, and natural gas, and how they power the region as well as the benefits and challenges of each form and the role of energy efficiency.

Each of the supporting partners will have interactive hands-on booth displays for the students to experience the benefits of our region’s energy resources. There will be outdoor safety demonstrations to teach students about electrical and natural gas safety. Students will also be introduced to careers in the energy industry through equipment displays and discussions with local energy professionals.

Previous events were held in 2015 and 2017.

Grant PUD Commissioners to Hold Public Budget Hearings

Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) commissioners will host three budget hearings before adopting the utility’s 2019 budget. The budget hearings are held in locations throughout the county to more easily allow customers an opportunity to attend the hearings and learn about the proposed budget.

The hearings include a presentation about planned expenses and revenues for 2019, as well as an opportunity for the public to provide comment. The budget reflects how the utility plans to continue serving customers with affordable and reliable energy.

The commissioners will formally adopt the 2019 budget before the end of this year.

The budget presentation, the most recent 2017 annual report, as well as an opportunity to provide comment to the commissioners are available at www.grantpud.org/commission-meetings.

The public budget hearings are scheduled for October 9 and 11.

Chelan’s Business Plans Focus on Creating Long-Term Value

On October 1, Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners looked to the future as they reviewed the blueprints that staff laid out for the next five years to make sure utility services are valuable, enhance Chelan County’s quality of life, and provide the best value for the most people for the longest period of time.

“This is a moment we’ve been preparing for [for] the last six months,” said General Manager Steve Wright as he introduced the five-year business plans. “Very important is that we have achieved our debt ratio target – a year earlier than forecast. We are now rated among the top five public utilities for financial strength.”

Strong financial health allows the PUD to increase focus on improving the state of aging hydro and distribution assets.

“The good news is we believe we can invest in our assets and achieve our key financial targets (over the next five years). Our bottom line forecast is actually better than last year,” he said.

The plans include no changes to electric rates in 2019, but that is unlikely to continue forever, Wright added. Power rates haven’t changed since 2012.

Senior managers base the five-year plans on the District’s mission, vision, and values. The plans also serve as building blocks for annual budgets. Commissioners will review the draft 2019 spending plan at their first meeting in November.

In addition to meeting financial targets, Chelan PUD will focus on these areas for 2019-2023, Wright said: improve hydro capability to 89 percent, even with space and equipment challenges; improve reliable power delivery to customers; and improve safety and operational excellence, quality, and pace.

With new billing and metering systems, to operating a world-class fiber network, to upgrades at the dams and for the power grid, PUD senior managers outlined how business units will make a difference for customers and the community in the next five years.

The business plans also lead in to the next strategic planning process for 2020-2024

SMUD Recognized as one of the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America®

SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) was recognized as one of the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America at the Fitbit Captivate Conference in Chicago on September 20. The winning organizations were honored for their commitment to employee health and exceptional corporate wellness programming. Over 1,000 of America’s top wellness programs were evaluated for this award across the country.

SMUD ranked 10th for its performance across six key categories: Culture and Leadership Commitment; Foundational Components; Strategic Planning; Marketing and Communications; Programming and Interventions; and lastly, Reporting and Analytics. Applicants were evaluated with the proprietary Healthiest Employers® Index, a 1-100 rubric for wellness programming. These organizations have achieved lasting success through a wide array of employee wellness initiatives and corporate wellness programs.

“We are proud to have been recognized for our commitment to employee wellness,” said SMUD CEO Arlen Orchard. “We continue to believe that healthy employees add to the vitality and productivity of our company, and we will continue to support programs that improve health and fitness, so we can better support our community and the people in it.”

By winning this award, SMUD is recognized as one of the best of the best in worksite health nationally. SMUD’s Corporate Wellness Program includes on and offsite discounted gym memberships; group fitness classes; health assessment program; employee blood drives; company-sponsored races; injury prevention workshops; weight loss support groups; and more.

The Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America award culminates the conclusion of the year-long wellness awards program that Healthiest Employers hosts in over 40 cities across the United States. Each of the winning companies is considered an exemplary leader for the effectiveness of their population health and wellness initiatives.

“This year’s winners comprise our strongest class of healthy workplaces since we launched the program nine years ago,” said Rod Reasen, co-founder of the Healthiest Employers Award Program and Springbuk. “This year’s Healthiest 100 Workplaces include organizations as small as 19 full-time employees and as large as over 150,000 employees. They span nearly every industry, size, geography, and include both private and public organizations.”

BPA Completes 35th Consecutive U.S. Treasury Payment

The Bonneville Power Administration paid its 35th consecutive U.S. Treasury payment on October 3. This year’s $862 million payment brings BPA’s cumulative payments to the Treasury during those 35 years to over $29.8 billion.

“This is a significant milestone that demonstrates BPA’s ability to meet all of its financial obligations on an ongoing basis, regardless of changing conditions and markets,” said Michelle Manary, BPA executive vice president and chief financial officer. “It’s also important because it provides a full and timely payment for the benefit of U.S. taxpayers.”

The Treasury payment is significant because it’s BPA’s lowest priority payment and is made only after all other financial obligations are paid in the fiscal year. BPA sets its rates to maintain an annual 97.5 percent probability of making this payment.

This year’s payment includes $569 million in principal, $226 million in interest, and $27 million for irrigation assistance, which BPA provides to help irrigators repay their share of certain Reclamation projects.

BPA applied $93 million of credits toward this year’s Treasury payment. BPA received most of this credit under a section of the Northwest Power Act as reimbursement for the non-power share of fish and wildlife costs it pays annually.

In addition to the U.S. Treasury payment, BPA paid operations and maintenance expenses for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projects directly funded by BPA. This direct funding amounted to $421 million in fiscal year 2018.

SMUD Announces Free Workshops and Webinars

SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) has announced its lineup of educational workshops and webinars for fall 2018. All classes are free of charge and are held at convenient locations throughout the community.

SMUD’s Energy Education & Technology Center provides free classes to help its customers lower their energy costs and make their homes more comfortable and convenient. Topics include solar energy systems, electric vehicle options, home energy efficiency measures, and fun “maker” projects for the whole family.

SMUD also hosts a number of special events throughout the year for educators and commercial customers. All classes require registration to attend.

To view SMUD’s workshop, webinar, and event calendars online, visit smud.org/Learn.

EWEB’s First Emergency Water Station Debuted

The Eugene Water & Electric Board (Ore.) and Bethel School District hosted a grand opening ceremony for the community’s first emergency water station on October 6 at the Bethel Farm.

The FILL UP at the Farm event included free 3-gallon emergency water storage containers while supplies lasted, plenty of information to prepare families for emergencies, and a free raffle for prizes. EWEB personnel set up water distribution equipment, fed from a well at the farm, so those attending could fill up their free water containers.

A key component of EWEB’s ongoing initiative to prepare for emergencies, whether earthquake, forest fire, or other disaster, is to establish at least five of these geographically dispersed emergency water stations within the next five years.

These stations will provide a reliable supply of water in order to maintain public health and safety in an emergency. The water will come from existing, refurbished, or new wells, with pumps powered by backup generators or through a microgrid system that can run off of solar-charged batteries.

The Bethel Farm emergency water station takes advantage of an existing well and will be supplemented with a back-up generator that will power the pump in case of an electricity outage so this site can deliver water to the community during an emergency.

By working with schools and other community partners, EWEB is able to establish these emergency water distribution sites in a reasonable timeframe and within existing budgets. This approach helps minimize the financial impacts to its customers while taking solid steps to prepare for disasters or emergencies that might disrupt EWEB’s water system.

A recent example of a water-supply emergency here in Oregon occurred in June when the city of Salem found small amounts of cyanotoxins in its treated drinking water and issued a drinking water advisory. The toxins came from a harmful algal bloom in Detroit Lake.

EWEB encourages customers to build an emergency supply kit that includes at least three days of drinking water for each member of the household. A free 3-gallon storage container is a great way to start an emergency supply kit.

A second emergency water station at Howard Elementary is nearly complete, and EWEB is working with other community partners to identify and develop additional water stations in other parts of the city.

Anchorage, Cooperative Finalize Terms of $1B Utility Sale

U.S. News & World Report (10/01/18)  

Anchorage and the Chugach Electric Association have worked out the terms for the $1 billion deal for Chugach to buy the city-owned electric utility.

City attorney Rebecca Windt-Pearson said Anchorage and the electric cooperative have been negotiating the nuances of the deal for Municipal Light and Power since voters authorized the sale in April, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

Windt-Pearson told the city assembly last week that the deal took this long to finalize because it's "an enormously complicated transaction." But the city was happy with the progress and wanted to give ample time for the public to review it, she said.

The deal has largely stayed the same to what was proposed to voters earlier this year, said Lee Thibert, the CEO of the association.

"From a customer perspective, the deal is still the same," Thibert said.

Portions of the sale revenue will pay down Municipal Light and Power's debt, replace lost taxes over time and fill the city trust fund, according to the terms of the agreement. The association has also agreed to pay a little more up front — about $768 million — to make it more secure for bondholders, Thibert said.

"We've done our due diligence," Thibert said. "This is still a good deal for ratepayers, a good deal for taxpayers."

No employees of the utility will be laid off, and the base electricity rates will not go up as a result of the transaction, according to the agreement.

The deal will go before the Anchorage Assembly for approval. It also requires approval from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Northwest Public Power Association