NWPPAConnect Available Soon to Help Facilitate Mutual Aid
This past summer and now into fall, we are seeing the need and value of mutual aid. Recently, NWPPA launched NWPPAConnect. You’ll soon see the NWPPAConnect button on our website as more utilities provide their contact information, system information, material, and resource availabilities should they be called upon to assist others.
The NWPPAConnect platform is not a replacement for mutual aid agreements utilities currently have in place; it is an augmentation to support a response to catastrophic events. Recent good examples are southern Texas; many parts of Florida; the wildfires we saw in Montana, California, and Oregon; and the early winter snowfall that put distribution systems on the ground. Sometimes those around you are facing the same recovery and it’s necessary to go outside the next closest utility or even out of state.
Information on the Washington Rural Electric Association’s members were first in and Alaska’s System Coordinating Council is next. We have heard from members in all states on their interest in having a central repository that they can either call upon or where they can be called upon in the event they need to reach beyond their existing mutual aid agreements.
NWPPA is working through the statewide associations to gather information. Please contact Anita Decker at email@example.com for more information.
Are You Signed up for E-ISAC Updates?
The Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) provides much more than just reports on grid cyber and physical security. There is information about email hacking, financial systems hacking, and distribution substation penetrations. Here are just a few examples of why every utility should be signed up to receive alerts or just get routine information.
From the week of October 10: This week, the E-ISAC received four physical security reports – intrusion, suspicious phone call, copper theft, and surveillance. Cyber security reports this week focused on phishing emails. News items featured this week include details on National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), an update on the cause of the Equifax breach, and information about a threat actor pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to spread ransomware. On 10/9/17 at 5:25 PM, Security received a report that a 12KV Station in [redact] was broken into. The lock on the gate was cut and copper grounds from all poles and structures were stolen. The control house on-site was also broken into but nothing appears to have been tampered with or stolen from inside the control house. The details of this report was shared with the company’s Cyber Security team. There is no additional information at this time and Security is continuing to investigate.
And, as part of the E-ISAC’s ongoing efforts to increase information sharing and provide analysis to members, the E-ISAC has developed a weekly government reporting overview to improve physical and cybersecurity awareness by summarizing government reports shared with, and by, the E-ISAC. You can control how much and how often you want to receive information: daily, weekly, monthly, every six months, or annually.
Access press releases, vulnerabilities, alerts, advisories, and announcements from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, and the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center in the weekly report.
Membership is free. For more information on joining the E-ISAC, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Kostick, Lewis County PUD Work to Maintain Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds
Lewis County PUD (Chehalis, Wash.) has assisted in a big victory for public power. As a member, of the American Public Power Association Policy Makers Council, LCPUD Commissioner Ben Kostick works on promoting federal legislation that is important to public power systems like the Lewis PUD.
Tax-exempt municipal bonds are an important tool for financing projects for public power utilities like Lewis County PUD. As an advocate to ensure that this exemption is not reduced nor eliminated, Kostick has been communicating the importance of the municipal bond-tax exemption for close to a decade. He has provided information to our elected officials and staff in Washington, D.C., and has been a vocal supporter for preservation of tax-exempt muni bonds.
A recent statement from the current administration has deemed that the tax exemption for municipal bonds will be preserved under the broad outline of a tax reform plan drafted by key congressional Republicans and Administration officials.
This tax reform plan will keep bonds available to Lewis PUD in a tax-free status, allowing the District to continue to pass lower costs on to our customers. In reviewing the current status of the PUD’s bond portfolio, had the regulations been revoked, the District could have seen an increased interest expense upwards of $200,000 per year.
PCWA Board Tours Several Small Water Systems in Placer County
At the October 5 meeting of the Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) Board of Directors, the board toured six small water systems located in Placer County to get a better understanding of the needs and unique challenges of operating and maintaining such systems. Stops on the tour included water treatments plants in Colfax, Monte Vista, Dutch Flat, Alta, Heather Glen, and Meadow Vista.
Following the tour, the board heard a report from the State Water Resources Control Board on statewide concerns associated with small water systems, the importance of having safe and reliable drinking water, and recent legislation aimed at encouraging consolidation of small water systems wherever feasible and appropriate.
PCWA staff also provided a report on the status of several ongoing efforts to take advantage of state funding opportunities in support of small water systems and to extend service to several underserved areas within Placer County.
In total, there are 128 public water systems in Placer County, 44 of which are regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water; the remainder are regulated by Placer County Environmental Health.
TRIDEC Passes Resolution of Support for Columbia
The Tri-City Development Council Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution expressing support for Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station. TRIDEC promotes and advances economic strength, job creation and retention, and diversity in Benton and Franklin Counties (Wash.).
The resolution highlights the critical employment and economic benefits Columbia brings to the Tri-Cities region and Washington state, as well as the positive impacts Energy Northwest has on the local community. The measure lauds the clean energy benefits Columbia provides and voices support for safe and reliable plant operation through 2043. The resolution is another example of the growing support for Columbia from across Washington state. The full list of support resolutions can be viewed by going to the Statewide Support page on EN’s website.
Salem Electric Board Adopts New Rate Schedule
At their August 22 board meeting, the Salem Electric (Ore.) Board of Directors adopted a revenue neutral rate schedule – resulting in a reduction to the kWh charge and an increase in the basic charge. The rate change is in response to a 4.26-percent increase to the Bonneville Power Administration’s wholesale rate and took effect October 1, 2017.
Under the new rate schedule, residential members will see the basic charge increase from $10 to $15 per month, and the energy charge decrease from 8.22₵/kWh to 7.69₵/kWh. The average residential member using 871 kWhs will see a 39₵ increase on their electric bill. Similarly, an increase in the basic charge and decrease in the energy charge were made to the general service rate.
Salem Electric continues to offer a variety of energy efficiency options to help members manage their electric bills.
Emerald PUD Ranks 5th Best Large Nonprofit Oregon Employer
Emerald People’s Utility District (Eugene, Ore.) was recently named in 2017’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For by Oregon Business magazine. Based on employee responses to the annual survey, the utility placed fifth among 100 Oregon nonprofit organizations.
“Emerald PUD is a special place to work. Employees are valued, trusted, and empowered to do right by our customers,” said Kelli Strange, customer service representative. “During last year’s ice storms, for example, the Emerald PUD Board of Directors set aside $150,000 to help customers with high bills. We were given the autonomy to identify and reach out to customers who did not qualify for low-income assistance but were hard hit by the storm.”
General Manager Scott Coe was elated about the ranking.
“Empowerment is at the core of Emerald’s culture. By trusting employees to do the work they were hired to do, and empowering them to make decisions and take action, we ensure the best possible service for our ratepayers,” he said.
Emerald PUD received the award on September 28 in Portland at the 100 Best Nonprofits awards dinner.