Welcome to New Members
LMUD Hires New Assistant General Manager
Lassen Municipal Utility District (Susanville, Calfif.) is pleased to announce the addition of Pat Holley as assistant general manager.
Holley began his power industry career in the 1980s working for Pacific Gas and Electric in the distribution and general construction departments. He was involved in many projects, including cleanup operations after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He continued his career in 2000 with the management of wood-fueled power plants, including Mt. Lassen Power and Burney Mountain Power. In 2011 he joined Greenleaf Power, managing many of their wood-fueled power plants. Most notably, Holley served as the general manager of Greenleaf’s local biomass facility, Honey Lake Power.
During his time at HLP, Holley was instrumental in helping secure islanding agreements between PG&E, LMUD, and HLP. He worked closely with LMUD personnel to ensure that power kept flowing to the community during catastrophic events such as the 2012 Chips Fire. The fire damaged PG&E lines forcing LMUD to island with HLP for nearly a month. Holley continued to work for Greenleaf at their Connecticut facility until he accepted the AGM position with LMUD in January of this year.
“My wife Amy and I are excited to be back in Susanville,” he said. “We are looking forward to getting involved again with Rotary and Soroptimist, and just getting reacquainted with the community.”
LMUD General Manager Doug Smith said, “We feel very fortunate to have Pat join our LMUD team. His extensive management experience in the power industry will be of great benefit to LMUD as we move forward with implementing improvements to our system, particularly the planned interconnection to NV Energy’s transmission system.”
“My belief is that teamwork, safety, and continuous improvement build an organization that delivers quality and cost-effective service,” said Holley. “In every community that I’ve worked in I always reach out to the community organizations, the public, and local agencies to communicate about what our organization’s plans are and how we might cooperate to get things done that ensure reliable power. I believe that our employees are our key resource and that each one’s contribution is vital to our success. I’m looking forward to working for LMUD in support of our mission of providing reliable service at a reasonable cost.”
Alameda Municipal Power Launches Smart-Technology Program
Alameda Municipal Power (Calif.) is taking steps to transform its electric grid into a smart, innovative system with the launch of a new technology program called Energy inView. The program begins with an upgrade of customer meters and provides many benefits, including faster restoration of power outages and robust data to help customers manage and understand their energy usage.
Starting in April 2017, AMP’s meter-installation contractor, Professional Meters, Inc., will begin replacing existing meters with smart meters. These new meters, capable of two-way communication between customers and AMP, will replace the traditional analog meters that were the industry standard for more than 70 years. AMP expects to complete meter installations for residential and commercial customers throughout the island by December 2017. Customers will receive notification prior to their scheduled meter upgrade.
“The meters are the first step to help modernize Alameda’s electric infrastructure to prepare for the future,” AMP General Manager Nico Procos said. “Ultimately, this technology will allow our customers to have many choices for energy management and enhanced interaction with AMP.”
Installation of smart meters will be paid for by capital improvement monies and funds from the short-term sale of AMP’s renewable energy credits. More information about AMP’s Energy inView program is available at www.alamedamp.com/inview.
Chelan PUD Discussing Future of Wenatchee Works with Alcoa Corp.
As Alcoa Corporation considers options for its Wenatchee Works smelter, Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) is engaging Alcoa Corporation based on the principle that any potential changes in the plant’s existing power contract must have a neutral to positive financial impact on Chelan PUD customer-owners, according to General Manager Steve Wright. The utility looks favorably on an option that can preserve the potential for a smelter restart and local jobs as long as the financial principle can be achieved.
Elements of a possible agreement with the aluminum smelter to achieve that result would be subject to negotiation.
Alcoa Corporation officials told Chelan PUD staff that no decision on the facility’s future has been reached. However, they are discussing ideas with the PUD that will preserve the opportunity for a restart in the future.
Alcoa Inc., the former parent company of Alcoa Corporation, curtailed operations at the plant in December 2015. The plant employed more than 400 workers at the time.
When Alcoa Corporation separated from its former parent company, it kept the primary aluminum business, which includes the Wenatchee Works smelting operations. Chelan PUD agreed to assign the existing power contract for the Wenatchee Works smelter to the new company in October 2016, after receiving additional credit and other assurances.
The company has a contract with Chelan PUD through late 2028 to receive 26 percent of the electricity made at Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams to power the aluminum smelter south of Wenatchee. Since operations ceased, Chelan PUD has continued to sell unused Alcoa Corporation power and to apply the proceeds against outstanding contract obligations. Under the existing contract, Alcoa Corporation would owe a $67 million payment if the plant remains curtailed in June.
Wright said it is the PUD’s goal within the next month or two to resolve the request from Alcoa Corporation for contract terms that provide more time to allow the company to reach a decision regarding the plant’s future.
PCWA Board Extends Emergency Declaration to Repair Storm-Related Damage
For the second time in as many meetings, the Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) Board of Directors extended a local emergency declaration for storm-related damage in the area of the Agency’s Middle Fork Project. The unanimous vote by the board at its March 16 meeting authorizes the Agency to enter into contracts to protect, access, inspect, and repair Agency property and facilities without a formal board vote on specific projects. The vote follows an identical vote on March 2.
“The magnitude of damage caused by winter storms requires that the Agency be able to act quickly when conditions are favorable,” General Manager Einar Maisch said. “In accordance with the law, the board needs to reconsider the declaration at every subsequent meeting to determine whether or not to continue the emergency.”
PCWA staff has identified road damage and sediment build up in the American River as the most extensive damage. Winter rains caused a number of landslides, some of which continue to restrict road access to some PCWA facilities. Crews have used recent dry weather to clear access and implement measures to help stabilize the ground. Work also is being done to remove sediment in the vicinity of PCWA hydropower facilities. PCWA anticipates more cleanup in the future with still six weeks to go in the traditional rainy season.
EWEB Taking Orders for Emergency Water Containers
Eugene Water & Electric Board (Ore.) customers who want to prepare for earthquakes, forest fires, or other emergencies that could interrupt the delivery of drinking water can now pre-order 3-gallon water storage containers at a discounted price.
Starting on March 22 – which was World Water Day – EWEB customers can pre-order 3-gallon bisphenol A-free water storage containers. Storing an emergency supply of water – along with food and other life-sustaining items – is a critical component in any household emergency kit.
EWEB wants to help its customers prepare for such emergencies by making water storage containers easily available. The utility has been working for more than three years with the American Red Cross and other participating agencies to raise awareness that emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility.
EWEB donates $1 of the discounted, $5 charge for each container to the American Red Cross. Since 2014, customer container purchases have helped EWEB donate more than $61,000 to the Red Cross through the emergency water container program. This gift has enabled the disaster relief agency to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from calamities big and small, including the local chapter’s response during the December ice storm.
“Following a disaster or loss of water supply, clean drinking water may not be available, so it makes sense to store enough water for several days,” said Frank Lawson, EWEB’s general manager. “You need a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and basic sanitation.”
Each time this special offer is made available, the containers have sold out quickly. The program has helped nearly 3,500 households prepare for the unexpected.
For guidance on assembling a household emergency kit, view the Red Cross Prepare Guide resource book.
Chelan Commissioners Weigh Options for New Facilities
On March 20, Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners reviewed a draft strategic facilities plan that covers most of the buildings the PUD owns. The plan suggests that investments in new facilities could enhance the customer experience while producing long-term benefits for PUD customer-owners through increased PUD employee productivity and reduced operation and maintenance costs.
Dan Frazier, Shared Services director, reported on the nearly two-year look at PUD buildings that was launched at the suggestion of customer-owners during strategic planning. Frazier said the study follows the District’s strategic priority of investing in its assets and people. Analysis included evaluation based on the PUD creating the best value for the most people for the longest period of time.
A customer advisory group reviewed the facility options and provided unanimous favorable comments to move forward. The analysis was performed in the same manner as the PUD treats investments in its hydropower projects.
The analysis recommends plans to 1) build a new, combined headquarters and operations center at a location north of the Wenatchee River and sell existing, duplicative PUD properties; and 2) Provide a combination of new construction and renovated structures at Rock Island and Rocky Reach Dams.
The capital investments are estimated at $114 million for the combined headquarters and operations center; $36 million for Rock Island Dam; and $33 million for Rocky Reach. These estimates are preliminary as no formal engineering and design work has been performed. Analysis done so far supports performing more detailed designs to refine plans and cost estimates.
Commissioner McKenna expressed his appreciation for the District’s approach to evaluate decisions on the basis of life-cycle cost rather than focusing only on near-term emergencies.
Commissioners will review the proposal again at the April 3 meeting and take public comment. The Commission will consider directing staff to take the next steps of creating detailed engineering, design, and financing actions to pursue the plan.
On a related note, staff analysis was presented confirming the feasibility of the commissioners’ suggestion to create a financial reserve supporting implementation of a strategic facilities plan. The Commission could act at the April 3 Board meeting to create a financial reserve for facilities.
Commissioners also chose a preferred alternative for building a new electric substation to serve Leavenworth on land between Chumstick Highway and Titus Road, about a mile and half up the highway and owned by the MEND organization. For the new Chelan-area substation, board members agreed with recommendations from staff and a customer advisory group to remove three possible locations from further consideration due to cost and aesthetic issues. The focus will shift to finding a suitable location in an area with fewer impacts on neighbors and closer to where the load is located.
John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, requested, and the board affirmed, narrowing the search for a substation location to serve future demand on Lake Chelan’s north shore. Commissioners affirmed staff’s plan to take time for another look at areas with less impact on neighbors from necessary high- and low-voltage power lines following comments made at the March 6 board meeting and at a meeting of the community focus group last week. This group has been meeting for about 18 months to help guide the PUD on its site selection efforts.
Several Chelan community members at the board meeting agreed with the Commission’s decision to take another look at a location that is closer to where the load currently is located is the best path forward.
Centralia Coal Transition Weatherization Board Supports Lewis County PUD’s Energy Efficiency Programs
The Centralia Coal Transition Grants Weatherization Board is pleased to announce it has approved a grant to Lewis County Public Utility District (Centralia, Wash.) to supplement the energy efficiency programs available to their customers.
The grant amount of $842,250 will leverage existing resources to provide qualified customers with technology to improve their home efficiency with ductless heat pumps and support K-12 school energy efficiency improvements, as well as supplement existing or pending programs to upgrade windows, insulation, lighting, lighting controls, and other custom projects offered to District customers.
The Weatherization Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington to transition the Centralia plant away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025. The mission of the Weatherization Board is to provide funding of projects to improve energy efficiency and weatherization within Lewis County and South Thurston County.
“The grant dollars will leverage the opportunities the District has to offer to improve energy efficiency and weatherization and directly make a positive impact to their customers, whether it be a customer household, school, or local business,” said Weatherization Board Member Shane Bluhm. “One of the goals of the board is to support projects that provide cost-effective weatherization solutions that demonstrate an energy cost savings for those living and working in the local community. The plan outlined in the District application meets that goal.”
“Partnering with the Weatherization Board will create local jobs, allow for investment in schools, and help maximize the value and comfort from every bit of energy distributed to customers,” said PUD Power and Business Services Manager Chris Roden.
Annual payments for the funding boards have been made for the past five years with the last payment due on December 31, 2023. The opportunity to start flowing dollars into projects became effective on December 31, 2015.
For more information on the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards visit: http://cctgrants.com.
EWEB Powerhouse Rebuild Will Close Public Access to Select Areas for Five Years
Beginning today, March 27, and continuing for the next five years, the Eugene Water & Electric Board (Ore.) will launch a project to retrofit, refurbish, and upgrade equipment at its Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric facility along the upper McKenzie River, about 70 miles east of Eugene off of Highway 126.
In order to complete the project safely, EWEB will close public access to Trail Bridge and Lakes End campgrounds, the Trail Bridge Reservoir boat launch, and Smith Reservoir. In addition to the campground, reservoir and boat launch closures, Forest Service Roads 690, 730, and 689 will be closed to all public use during the reconstruction project. Trail Bridge and Smith reservoirs are popular fishing spots.
The five-year closure – through 2021 – is necessary because it is not possible to maintain safe public access through or around the construction areas.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to close the road during this long-term construction project,” said Mike McCann, EWEB’s generation manager. “But with an active construction zone at the powerhouse, this is the only way to guarantee public safety and the safety of our staff and contractors.”
In addition to modernizing and replacing equipment at its Carmen Powerhouse and elsewhere throughout the hydroelectric generation project, EWEB will also make significant improvements to fish passage facilities and habitat, and upgrade Trail Bridge and Lakes End campgrounds. The utility expects to invest approximately $100 million modernizing the project and making the habitat and recreation improvements.
For more information, visit www.eweb.org/carmen-smith.
EWEB also began dewatering the Leaburg Power Canal on March 25 to perform maintenance on the power plant, canal, and fish screen.
The shutdown of the Leaburg generating facility and power canal is expected to last about three weeks. During the shutdown, EWEB will divert very little water from the McKenzie River into the canal, which will cause the river level to rise downstream of the canal’s mouth.
During the re-watering period, expected to begin on or around April 16, the river level will gradually drop as more water is diverted into the canal. Depending on the progress of repairs to the power plant and canal, EWEB could begin re-watering as early as April 13.
The utility will complete similar repairs to the Walterville power plant, fish screen, and canal beginning in mid-June.
SMUD Invites Public Input on Proposed Rate Action
The SMUD (Calif.) Board of Directors is holding two public workshops and a public hearing to discuss proposed rate changes. The Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report & Recommendation on Rates and Services, released by SMUD CEO & General Manager Arlen Orchard, outlines a proposed rate increase of 1.5 percent in 2018—including the System Infrastructure Fixed Charge—for all residential customers, and a 1-percent increase in both 2018 and 2019 for all non-residential customers.
The rate increase will be used to help upgrade SMUD’s system to provide customers with a modern energy grid that can successfully integrate more distributed and renewable energy sources and meet evolving customer needs. The increase will also be used to improve the technology that SMUD customers use to monitor and manage their energy use.
If the action is approved, SMUD customers will still enjoy some of the lowest electricity rates in California—on average about 30 percent lower than neighboring PG&E. In fact, while most utilities in the state have implemented rate increases every year, SMUD’s increases have been among the lowest in terms of percentage and actual cost.
SMUD CEO & General Manager Arlen Orchard also released the Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report on Open Access Transmission Tariff. The proposal is to revise SMUD’s OATT to ensure SMUD’s transmission rates reflect current costs and provide SMUD additional market and operational flexibility for its excess transmission capacity.
SMUD is already working closely with customers and other stakeholders—including community groups, service organizations, business groups, elected officials, and more—to communicate and discuss these changes.
Information on the proposed rate action and a complete copy of the Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report and Recommendation on Rates and Services and the Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report and Recommendation on OATT can be found on smud.org/RateInfo and at all Sacramento County Public Libraries.
Visit https://www.smud.org/en/about-smud/news-media/news-releases/2017/2017-03-17-rate-proposal.htm to read the full release.