Public Power Announcements

NWPPA Welcomes Glacier Electric Cooperative as Newest Member

(April 11) We are excited to announce that Glacier Electric Cooperative has joined NWPPA as our newest utility member!

Glacier Electric Cooperative, founded in 1945, is located in Northwest Montana, just east of the continental divide. The cooperative provides electricity to its nearly 5,000 members in Flathead, Glacier, Pondera, and Toole counties in Montana and part of Alberta, Canada. GEC is governed by a board of nine trustees. The co-op’s general manager is Hugo Anderson. For more information, visit www.glacierelectric.com.


Rollie Miller Leaves a Lasting Impact on Vigilante Electric

RollieMiller(April 11) Rollie Miller has retired after nearly 45 years in the electric utility industry and 11 years as Vigilante Electric Cooperative’s general manager. The cooperative announced last month that Trevor Parke is the utility’s next general manager.

Miller began his role as general manager for Vigilante Electric in January 2013. His background lent itself well to managing the utility, but it was far from conventional. After deciding to pursue a career in this industry, he went through a lineworker training program and became a journeyman. He then returned to school to study electrical engineering and became a licensed professional engineer. He worked his way through the ranks, eventually earning an opportunity to lead an electrical cooperative, the first being Wyrulec Co. in southeastern Wyoming.

Miller brought the right combination of life and work experience to Vigilante Electric. During his tenure, the co-op prospered with record growth and revenues. He is extremely passionate about the safety and well-being of the employee group and the general public. This commitment to safety has had a lasting impact on Vigilante Electric. Even during the havoc of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller ensured Vigilante Electric stayed true to its mission to its members.

“As an organization, we thank Rollie for his time and commitment to our organization and members and wish him well in his retirement,” Board President Andy Johnson said.


Whatcom PUD Commissioner Christine Grant Announces Resignation

(April 10) At the April 9 Whatcom PUD (Ferndale, Wash.) Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Christine Grant announced her resignation, effective May 1.

During her nearly four years on the board of commissioners, Grant championed a great deal of progress for the PUD. The utility succeeded in attracting millions of dollars in grant funds to build broadband infrastructure, helped oversee an initial study of bringing public power to all of Whatcom County, launched an initiative to see if it could develop geothermal power within the county, and helped lead the effort to secure half a million dollars for a geothermal-related study to be done in partnership with the Nooksack Tribe. Grant also served on the board of directors for Energy Northwest and is active in many trade and civic organizations.

“I have brought my best self to my position on the PUD,” Grant wrote in her letter of resignation. “The work is not done. The work is never done. That being said, and after long and careful consideration, I have decided that it is time for me to pass the PUD baton to another individual so that I may more fully prioritize my family—including my two very young children. I extend my sincerest thanks to General Manager Chris Heimgartner, Commissioner [Jaime] Arnett, Commissioner [Atul] Deshmane, the PUD staff, and many other members of the state PUD association. One of the most rewarding parts of serving as a PUD Commissioner has been the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from members of a community that I love so much. It has been an honor and I thank you.”

An vote will be held during the November 2024 general election to fill the unexpired term, which ends in 2026. The remaining district commissioners will appoint an interim commissioner to serve until the election.


Randy Wakefield Named Manager of Operations at Fall River

RandyWakefield(April 2) Fall River Electric Cooperative (Ashton, Idaho) announced Randy Wakefield as the co-op’s newest manager of operations. Wakefield was chosen from a field of 49 highly qualified candidates and has been a staff member of Fall River Electric since 2005. He now joins the co-op’s management team and reports to CEO/General Manager Bryan Case.


Snohomish PUD Launches TREE Power Grant Program

(April 10) Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) launched the Tree Relief for Energy Efficiency (TREE) Power on April 10, Washington State Arbor Day.

TREE Power is a pilot program designed to provide financial assistance for selected tree-planting projects in public green spaces and urban areas. The goal of the projects is to help promote energy efficiency by reducing the heat retention of buildings and pavement to mitigate air conditioning loads. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, shade from trees can reduce the ambient temperature of an area by 2 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing the need for air conditioning.

“We’ve seen an increase in AC loads in our service territory over the last five years, and we anticipate that the prevalence of air conditioning in our region will continue to grow in the coming decade,” said John Haarlow, CEO/general manager. “The PUD is always looking for new ways to encourage conservation so that we can mitigate load growth and avoid the need to invest in expensive new infrastructure. The TREE Power program is a great example of how a relatively small investment in sustainability can potentially result in big savings for our customers.”

For the 2024 pilot year, the PUD is able to fund three to five projects up to $10,000 each. Funding is available for nonprofit organizations and public agencies for tree planting on publicly accessible land within the PUD’s service territory.

More information is available at www.snopud.com/treepower.


Eight NWPPA Members Earn RP3 Designation in 2024

(April 9) The American Public Power Association announced that 91 utilities received the association’s Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Designation in 2024. Among those are eight NWPPA member utilities: Benton PUD (Wash.), Idaho Falls Power (Idaho), Roseville Electric Utility (Calif.), and Tillamook PUD (Ore.) at the Diamond Level; and Cowlitz PUD (Wash.), Heber Light & Power (Utah), Northern Wasco County PUD (Ore.), and Truckee Donner PUD (Calif.) at the Platinum Level.

The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

With the announcement of the 2024 designees, 18 NWPPA member utilities currently hold the RP3 designation. NWPPA members who earned the designation in 2022 and 2023 include:

Diamond Level—Alameda Municipal Power (Calif.), Clallam County PUD (Wash.) Clark Public Utilities (Wash.), and Mason PUD 3 (Wash.).

Platinum Level—Modesto Irrigation District (Calif.), Turlock Irrigation District (Calif.); McMinnville Water and Light (Ore.); Seattle City Light (Wash.), and Snohomish PUD (Wash.).

Gold Level—Lassen Municipal Utility District (Calif.).


Roseville Electric Team Earns Award at National Lineworkers Rodeo

(April 7) A Roseville Electric Utility (Calif.) journeyman team received an award at the American Public Power Association’s 22nd annual Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, held April 5-6 in Lafayette, Louisiana. The team, which included Kyle Giesser, Phillip Hartnett, and James Wolter, received third place in the 4kV Alley Arm Insulator Change Out competition. It was the only group from the Western United States to receive an award at the rodeo.


McMinnville Water and Light Wins Best-Tasting Water Competition

The McMinnville Water and Light crew poses with their plaque after winning the best-tasting water contest.

(April 2) McMinnville Water and Light has won a best-tasting water contest for the second year in a row. The utility emerged as the winner of the Best Tasting Water Competition held during the American Water Works Association (AWWL) Northwest Oregon Subsection meeting, which took place at McMinnville Water and Light last month.

Four utilities from Northwest Oregon participated in the competition, and in a blind test, McMinnville’s water was voted as the best tasting.

McMinnville Water and Light will now move on to compete in the Best Tasting Water Competition at the AWWA Pacific Northwest Conference in May, which includes utilities from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

A Hillsboro Water team (Kody King, Brady Steinmetz, and Victor Fujinami) won the Hydrant Hysteria competition and will move on to compete in the Section Conference in May.

The Northwest Oregon Subsection is a subgroup of the Pacific Northwest Section of AWWA, which is the authoritative resource on safe water. An international nonprofit and education society, AWWA is the largest and oldest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA shares knowledge on water resource development, water and wastewater treatment technology, water storage and distribution, and utility management and operations.

Members of the Northwest Oregon Subsection of AWWA cover a full spectrum of water industry professionals, including operators, engineers, water conservation specialists, cross-connection specialists, customer service agents, meter technicians, manufacturers, suppliers, teachers, students, meter readers, and others.


We Remember: John Irwin

John Dennis Irwin, longtime board member for Elmhurst Mutual Power & Light, passed away March 3, 2024, at 82.

Irwin was born Nov. 7, 1941. He spent most of his career as a journeyman electrician working for Washington Electric, retiring in 1999. He also served in the Coast Guard Reserves during the Vietnam War from 1963 to 1969. Irwin joined Elmhurst’s board in 1976 and was reelected every three years, for a total of 48 years of service. He also served on the Washington Rural Electric Cooperative Association Board for 17 years, beginning in 2005. Irwin was committed to the community, often prioritizing the good of Elmhurst’s work over his own convenience and comfort. Irwin saw himself as one of the Elmhurst crew, serving in the best way he could—taking care of employees, supporting improvements in safety and grid reliability, and advocating for cooperative interests.

In 2017, Irwin received NWPPA’s William “Bill” McCrorie Distinguished Service Award. The award honors individuals who have served the interest of public power and NWPPA in an outstanding manner.

In addition to his work in public power, Irwin also performed as a rodeo clown for around a decade. He would wear funny outfits his children loved, like a pink tutu. As a rodeo clown, he was in charge of pyrotechnics, which in those days was raw dynamite. He loved blowing something up every Fourth of July, whether it was a fence post, gate, or other object. Irwin was also an avid golfer and used to fly fish with a beautiful set of handmade bamboo fishing rods.

Irwin is preceded in death by his parents, John and Iris, and his beloved wife, Nancy. He is survived by his two children, John and Sheryl (and Charles), and granddaughter, Sofia.


Tantalus Solutions Selected by Tennessee Utility

(April 8) After a competitive evaluation process, Bolivar Energy Authority selected the Tantalus Grid Modernization Platform to modernize its distribution grid. Leveraging the TRUSense Fiber Gateway to harness the full capabilities of BEA’s advanced fiber network deployed in partnership with Irby Utilities, TGMP will replace an existing advanced metering infrastructure solution to support BEA’s grid modernization initiatives.

The TRUSense Gateway is a multi-purpose socket-based device that accelerates the modernization of the distribution grid for utilities. It delivers secure and interoperable integration of behind-the-meter distributed energy resources on to the distribution system, while also capturing and analyzing granular power quality data to enhance grid resiliency. The TRUSense Gateway is available for multiple communications networks, including fiber, ethernet, and cellular. As an integral part of the TGMP, the TRUSense Gateway will enable BEA to uniquely leverage its community’s investment in an advanced fiber deployment to improve operations of the distribution grid through the delivery of interoperable, grid-edge data.

Continued here.

Tantalus Systems is a smart grid technology company focused on helping build sustainable utilities. For more information, visit www.tantalus.com.


WECC Forecasts Significant Energy Shortages in Next 20 Years

(March 31) The Western Electricity Coordinating Council forecasts significant energy shortages in a recently published a report on load, resource, and transmission trends over the next 20 years.

WECC assesses system performance under a range of future scenarios that may present reliability risks. Historically, WECC has studied potential risks in a 10-year timeframe. In 2023, WECC began developing its capability to assess risks in a 20-year timeframe. WECC started by building a Year 20 Foundational Case (Y20 FC), which provides a reasonable set of business-as-usual assumptions as an analytical baseline against which WECC tested three risk-based scenarios set in 2042:

  • Year 20 extreme cold weather event
  • Year 20 extreme hot weather event
  • Year 20 compound load impacts

The full report is available here.

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council promotes bulk power system reliability and security in the Western Interconnection. For more information, visit www.wecc.org.


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