Public Power Announcements


We remember: Edward “Eddie” Bromiley

Edward “Eddie” Bromiley, a technician for Chelan PUD’s Central Maintenance group, died Wednesday, June 13, in an accident at Rock Island Dam. During crane testing, Bromiley was hit by a piece of steel from the spillway structure. He was 40 years old.

Bromiley had worked at Chelan PUD since April 2000. He became an apprentice wireman in August 2003 and a journeyman in October 2004. He moved to being a meter relay technician in May 2005 and into the technician position in May 2008.

Support for his family is ongoing. A flag is flying in his memory outside the PUD’s Tech Shop in Wenatchee, Wash. A local restaurant is collecting gift cards to help his wife and two children.


WRECA Elects Susan Cutrell to Top Position

The Washington Rural Electric Cooperative Association elected Susan Cutrell as president for the 2018-2019 term during the association’s recent annual meeting. Cutrell is general manager of the Parkland Light & Water Company in Tacoma, Wash.

Cutrell joined Parkland Light & Water in 2001 and served as controller then manager of finance and administration prior to assuming her duties as general manager in 2016.

Also elected as officers for the 2018-2019 term were Vice President Rob Carr, CFO, Tanner Electric Cooperative, North Bend, Wash.; Secretary Buddy Treadway, trustee, Benton Rural Electric Association, Prosser, Wash.; and Daniel Hille, director, Big Bend Electric Cooperative, Ritzville, Wash.


Brian Johnson Hired as New Auditor/Director at Franklin PUD

Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.) recently hired Brian Johnson as the new auditor/director of administrative services. Johnson will be responsible for Franklin PUD’s accounting functions, including the annual budget, compliance with all applicable accounting standards, and internal auditing. The position further provides oversight and supervision to the Accounting, Information Technology, and Broadband departments.

Johnson has a Master of Business Administration from Northwest Christian University and has worked in accounting and finance for 17 years. Prior to relocating to the Tri-Cities, Johnson held the position of senior power analyst at Emerald People’s Utility District in Eugene, Ore., where he was responsible for rate setting, power cost, and revenue accounting along with other risk management duties. Prior to his work at the utility, he served as plant controller for an international food manufacturer.

 


IBEW Honors Pend Oreille Safety Coordinator

Pend Oreille PUD (Newport, Wash.) Safety Coordinator Paul Kiss was presented with an award for his service and dedication by IBEW Local 77.

Before transitioning from a lineman to his current role as safety coordinator, Kiss spent many years serving IBEW Local 77 on their Exam Board and six of those years he spent as the board chairman. Only two other awards like this have ever been presented.

Kiss says he is going to miss serving on the board but sees his new role as an opportunity to take what he has learned to a different level and establish Pend Oreille PUD as an industry leader in safety.


Montana Public Service Commission Votes to Approve Hydro One and Avista Merger

On June 12, Hydro One Limited and Avista Corporation announced that the Montana Public Service Commission has voted to approve the proposed merger, with conditions.

“Hydro One is very pleased that the Montana Public Service Commission has voted favorably on our merger application with Avista,” said Mayo Schmidt, president and CEO of Hydro One. “We would like to thank the commissioners and all the parties that worked together to come to today’s positive decision.”

“The Commission’s approval of our merger with Hydro One is positive for all of our stakeholders,” Avista Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott L. Morris said. “We appreciate the Commission’s thoughtful review and consideration of our application. We looked forward to continued partnership with those we serve in Montana and further progress to close the transaction later this year.”

In reaching its decision, the Commission adopted the commitments as originally filed in this docket but reserved, on its own motion, the right to incorporate heightened commitments relevant to Montana established in other jurisdictions. The Commission did not accept, for rate-making purposes in Montana, an accelerated 2027 depreciation schedule for Colstrip, as otherwise agreed to by the parties in Washington. The Commission also approved the addition of a condition requiring Avista to submit copies of its integrated resource plans to the Commission. 

The final order reflecting the Commission’s vote is expected to be issued in the next couple of weeks. Once the order is issued, the merger will have received all required approvals in Montana.

Applications for regulatory approval of the transaction are still pending with utility commissions in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. An all-parties, all-issues settlement agreement was filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on March 27, 2018; with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on April 13, 2018; and with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon on May 25, 2018.

Hydro One and Avista received approval with conditions from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska on June 4, 2018, concluding the merger proceeding in Alaska. Hydro One and Avista received the Federal Communications Commission’s consent on May 4, 2018, to close their merger and antitrust clearance on April 5, 2018, after the expiration of the waiting period under the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended. The transaction received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on January 16, 2018, and from Avista shareholders on November 21, 2017. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States completed its review of the proposed merger on May 18, 2018, and has concluded that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction. Also required is the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.


Franklin PUD Pays $1.7 Million in Privilege Tax to the State

Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.) paid $1.7 million in privilege taxes to Washington state on June 1, 2018. The annual tax was levied on 2017 revenue for the privilege of providing electricity in the state. The privilege taxes collected by the state include $578,562 allocated to the state school fund, $176,313 to the state general fund, and $960,166 to Franklin County.

In addition to the privilege tax, Franklin PUD paid the following taxes in 2017: $3 million to the state for the public utility tax; municipal utility taxes of $4.7 million to the City of Pasco, $385,854 to the City of Connell, and $9,527 to the City of Kahlotus; and other excise taxes of $38,523 to the state.


Pacific Lamprey Return to Umatilla River in Record Numbers

Pacific lamprey, a prehistoric fish native to the Columbia River Basin and treasured by Native American people, are returning to Oregon’s Umatilla River in record numbers.

From the late 1960s through the early 2000s, lamprey were functionally extinct in the Umatilla Basin, and less than five years ago, only a few hundred Pacific lamprey returned to the Umatilla River each year. However, through efforts such as adult translocation, scientists with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have counted more the 2,600 of the ancient fish migrating up the eastern Oregon river to spawn this spring.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla have worked for nearly 25 years to increase lamprey numbers. The Bonneville Power Administration has funded most of the tribe’s lamprey projects since the early 1990s, with much of the money going toward lamprey research and improving instream passage. Over the past 10 years, BPA ratepayers have invested just over $5 million in the Umatilla Basin for lamprey.

“Lamprey are culturally important and a critical First Food for tribes. And while they’ve been around for millions of years, until rather recently managers failed to understand their importance within the food web,” said Aaron Jackson, fisheries biologist with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. “Our focus now is to continue lamprey supplementation actions to bolster the overall numbers of lamprey in the Umatilla and other ceded area basins.”

“We understand the cultural significance of Pacific lamprey to the tribes which is one reason we’ve funded lamprey projects in the Umatilla,” said Lorri Bodi, vice president of Environment, Fish and Wildlife with the Bonneville Power Administration. “As a food source for other creatures, lamprey are also very important to a healthy functioning ecosystem such as in the Umatilla River so it’s great to see our efforts paying off.”

Pacific lamprey spend the majority of their lives as tiny larvae living in Northwest streams from three to seven years before migrating out to sea. Adult lamprey have a sucker-like mouth that allows them to be parasitic while in the ocean. They attach to fish and other marine mammals for feeding. Lamprey usually live in the ocean for one to three years before returning to fresh water to spawn. Similar to salmon, lamprey die after spawning and their carcasses provide marine-rich nutrients to streams.


WAPA Formally Evaluating SPP for RC Services

On June 11, the Western Area Power Administration submitted a formal request to Southwest Power Pool for reliability coordinator (RC) services for two WAPA balancing authorities (BAs).

WAPA’s Upper Great Plains West and Western Area Colorado Missouri BAs are evaluating receiving RC services from SPP beginning in early 2020.

These BAs encompass WAPA’s Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program in the Western Interconnection, Loveland Area Projects, and Colorado River Storage Project Management Center territories—an area that stretches from eastern Montana, through Wyoming and Colorado, and to the northern part of the Phoenix metro area in Arizona.

“We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to more detailed negotiations with SPP,” said Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel. “We continue to engage with neighboring utilities and Mountain West Transmission Group participants on the future of energy markets and RC services in the West.”

There are currently two reliability coordinators in the Western Interconnection: Peak RC and Alberta Electric System Operator. On June 5, SPP announced it has sufficient interest to provide RC services in the Western Interconnection and plans to begin offering those services by the end of 2019. SPP’s provision of services is contingent on SPP becoming certified to be an RC in the Western Interconnection and on meeting other conditions.

“As new opportunities arise in this dynamic energy frontier, it is our duty to examine each thoroughly for their implications to our customers and our costs,” said Gabriel. “WAPA will continue to pursue the most beneficial, responsible, and reliable courses of action for our customers and the millions of consumers they serve in the West.”


Seattle City Light, Fire Department Take New Approach to Fighting Vault Fires

Today, June 18, Seattle City Light (Wash.) and the Seattle Fire Department will announce and demonstrate a new approach to fighting fires in underground electrical vaults, which also cause power outages.

City Light is providing funding to help support a truck equipped with carbon dioxide to snuff electrical fires in underground vaults rather than waiting for them to burn out. This approach could reduce the damage from electrical fires and help City Light restore service to affected customers faster.

This is the first program of its kind in the country. Other fire departments and utilities will be visiting Seattle on June 20 to learn more about the approach.


Conley Creek Substation Gets Upgrades to Increase Capacity to Baum Industrial Park

Crews from Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.) have started upgrades to the Conley Creek Substation that cooperative leaders hope will have a direct impact on encouraging economic development in Union County.

Once completed, the upgrades will double the electrical capacity in the area and will provide additional capacity to accommodate new businesses in the nearby Baum Industrial Park.

“In the past, when a prospective industrial customer asked for cost of service for one megawatt or more, it was very expensive because our system was at its capacity and we had to include the cost of upgrading system infrastructure. We will now be able to handle new growth up to 10 megawatts of load in the Baum Industrial park area at a much lower price tag, which should help attract industry to the area,” said Kelly Jobes, an OTEC system engineer.

Located off Highway 82 outside of La Grande, the substation upgrade includes a new transformer that will increase the substation’s capacity by 10 megawatts. For reference, Jobes said that lumber mills typically use approximately five to eight megawatts.

“We continuously monitor our electric distribution system to ensure that we are able to meet the power needs of our members and plan for future growth,” said OTEC General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Les Penning. “Installing a new transformer and doubling the load capacity at Conley Creek will ensure that we continue to provide reliable power to our current and future members.”

The capital budget project is expected to cost approximately $600,000 when it is completed. Work on the substation is expected to continue through the end of June. Jobes said there should be no interruption of power due to the upgrade work.

Click here to read the full release.


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