Public Power Announcements

2020 Communications Survey Available to Members Now

After 80 years, NWPPA continues to provide timely, industry-relevant communications and information to our members. However, to continue to fulfill that mission, we need to check in from time to time to see what communication methods work best for you, what you would like to see more of, and what isn’t of much value to you in 2020 and beyond. Please take nine minutes to complete our 2020 Communications Survey.

Survey responses are due by November 5. Thank you in advance for your participation and time, which will help us continue to be More Powerful Together in all that we do for you.

Survey button here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8R73QJC)


PCWA Wins WaterSense® Excellence in Education and Outreach Award

(October 21) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) with a 2020 WaterSense Excellence in Education and Outreach Award for promoting WaterSense and water efficiency in 2019. PCWA was one of 28 utilities, manufacturers, builders, and other organizations who received national recognition as part of WaterSense’s Partner of the Year Awards.

WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by EPA, is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping consumers learn ways to use water efficiently. WaterSense-labeled products, homes, and programs helped consumers and businesses save 871 billion gallons of water in 2019, along with the energy used to heat that water and money on utility bills.

“PCWA is incredibly honored and proud to have been chosen as a 2020 WaterSense award winner for Excellence in Education and Outreach,” said Director of Customer Services Matt Young. “The staff came up with a number of creative ways to support WaterSense and help our customers.”

Among PCWA’ s many educational efforts in 2019, highlights included outreach to local schools during the nationally recognized Fix-A-Leak week; partnering with local Eagle Scouts to convert the Auburn fire station lawn into a water-wise and fire-wise landscape; giving away nearly 400 yards of mulch to over 300 customers during its Mulch Mayhem event; and connecting with local nurseries and irrigation supply stores to distribute smart landscaping materials during its Lay the Groundwork for Water Savings campaign.

For more information about PCWA rebates on WaterSense products or to learn water-saving tips in and around your home or business, visit pcwa.net.


Columbia River PUD Installs St. Helens’ First Public EV Charging Station

PUD Board Member Craig Melton, PUD General Manager Michael Sykes, St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl, and PUD Board Member Jake Carter at the new EV Charging Station at the Best Western in St. Helens.

(October 20) The first public electric vehicle charging station in St. Helens, Ore., is now available for use.

Columbia River PUD recently installed a level 2 EV charging station at the Best Western Oaks Inn in St. Helens. The charger has the capability to charge two EVs simultaneously and is available for use by anyone.

“We felt the need to provide the infrastructure for this growing transportation trend and to provide opportunities for people visiting our area to charge their electric vehicles,” said PUD Board Member Jake Carter.

As a level 2 charging station, it is best suited for visitors who are spending the night at the hotel. A full charge typically takes about 6-8 hours using a level 2 charger at a cost of less than $5. Depending on the vehicle, an EV can travel around 250 miles on a full charge.

The PUD is exploring adding DC fast charging stations elsewhere in St. Helens and Columbia County.

DC fast charging stations are capable of delivering a charge to 80% capacity in 30-60 minutes. With the PUD’s low rates, that would cost between $3-6.

The charging station was installed at no cost to PUD customers thanks in part to the PUD’s participation in Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program. The PUD started its involvement with the Clean Fuels Program in 2016 by signing on to be a credit aggregator. That allows the PUD to receive carbon emission reduction credits from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles registered in the Columbia River PUD service territory.

These credits can be traded or sold on the carbon marketplace. The PUD used funds from selling these credits to purchase and install the EV charger.

According to the most recent data available from the DEQ, there are 223 EVs registered in the PUD’s service territory.

To charge their vehicles at Best Western, EV drivers will need to download the ChargePoint app or have a ChargePoint card.


Chelan PUD Partners up to Address Wildfire Threats

Chelan PUD line crews helped Douglas County PUD repair distribution poles that were damaged by wildfires in early September in Douglas County. Photo taken by Chelan PUD General Foreman Willie Nierman.

(October 20) Massive fires in Douglas County, California, and Oregon last month put an exclamation point on an area of increasing concern. Wildfire risks are growing for Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) and its customer-owners. Chelan PUD is rising to meet that challenge with new tools and collaboration.

At the PUD commissioner meeting Monday, staff outlined a community-based approach to build resiliency before, during, and after a fire.

The PUD is working with partners like Cascadia Conservation District, Firewise neighborhoods, and government agencies to identify projects with mutual benefit to electrical infrastructure and fire-prone communities. Many of these opportunities come with the possibility of matching grants.

One of the early benefits of collaboration is shared data. PUD staff presented several studies and maps produced by other agencies that showed where Chelan County faces the highest risk of wildfire. Those maps matched a study commissioned by Chelan PUD to assess wildfire risk to the PUD’s transmission lines.

“Everyone has a role in reducing wildfire risk to communities in fire-adapted landscapes,” said Patrick Haggerty, forestry program manager at Cascadia Conservation District. “It is great to see Chelan PUD using the best available data to identify where their wildfire resilience investments can be most strategically located, and how those investments can best align with the ongoing work of communities, responders, and land managers.”

For several years, the PUD has been strategically fortifying the electrical grid against wildfire, including steel pole installation and fire-retardant paint. The utility has also adopted higher standards for tree-trimming and line inspection. This work was initiated by damaging fires in Chelan County in 2014 and 2015. Enormous fires along the West Coast in the past three years accelerated the PUD’s development of fire risk management strategies.

The PUD is also considering moving some power lines underground in a few isolated, rural, high-fire risk areas where a business analysis would indicate it is the lowest cost option for all PUD customer-owners.

PUD staff are also researching best practices and protocols regarding preemptive power shutoffs as an option during extreme fire and high-wind events.

“We’re beginning to rethink our position with respect to public safety power shutoffs,” General Manager Steve Wright said. “As wildfire damage to homes and businesses has become more prevalent, insurance premiums are increasing. Proactive actions to reduce fire risk are increasingly perceived as a best-practice.”


DOE Cost-Share Award of $1.355 Billion Is Approved for UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project

(October 16) The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a multi-year cost-share award to a new special purpose entity named the Carbon Free Power Project, LLC (an entity wholly owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems) for the development and construction of the Carbon Free Power Project, a 720 MWe NuScale power plant to be located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory site. This award will serve as a funding vehicle to advance the CFPP as funds are appropriated by Congress.

The award demonstrates the importance of the CFPP, which will be the first NuScale small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) project in the United States.

The award also demonstrates the DOE’s commitment to accelerate the decarbonization of electrical generation nationwide and globally, and to support stable, carbon-free electrical supply to complement intermittent renewable energy. The project will also help maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear innovation and development.

The $1.355 billion award, allocated over 10 years, will fund the one-time costs for the first-of-a-kind project, as funds are appropriated by Congress, to reflect what second and subsequent NuScale plants would cost. This will help ensure that the levelized cost of energy target price of $55 MWh can be achieved at a level of risk UAMPS can manage. That price makes the CFPP competitive with other nonintermittent dispatchable energy sources, like combined cycle natural gas plants, but without greenhouse gas emissions. It will ensure long-term affordable energy to UAMPS member participants while avoiding exposure to greenhouse regulation and compliance costs.

“We appreciate this tremendous vote of confidence in CFPP by the Department of Energy,” said Douglas Hunter, UAMPS CEO and general manager. “It is entirely appropriate for DOE to help de-risk this first-of-a-kind, next-generation nuclear project. This is a great example of a partnership with DOE to lower the cost of introduction of transformative advanced nuclear technology that will provide affordable, carbon-free electricity all over the country and the world. This project is much bigger than UAMPS itself.”

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NISC Launches iVUE Connect – Marketing During THRIVE ’20 Virtual Event

(October 15) National Information Solutions Cooperative announced the addition of iVUE Connect – Marketing to its solutions lineup during the THRIVE ’20 virtual event, held October 13-14.

iVUE Connect – Marketing is the latest addition to the iVUE Connect suite, joining Service and Financials with Operations features also in development. iVUE Connect – Marketing allows NISC members to boost their sales and marketing efforts anywhere, anytime through a web browser.

“We have offered marketing services through our LeadAgent platform to our telecom members for a long time, and we’re really excited to expand that offering across the enterprise and as an integrated solution for our utility members,” said David Bonnett, vice president of product for NISC. “These expanded features can really help our members enhance their marketing efforts, whether gaining interest in broadband or preparing for the energy transition.”

iVUE Connect – Marketing provides world-class campaign and lead management. Integrated with NISC’s SmartHub, the Messenger feature provides targeted messaging opportunities through email, printed letter, on-bill messaging, text, or SMS. Integration with SmartHub Order Management allows for prospect tracking in geographical zones. Integration with NISC’s Business Intelligence and Reporting tools allows members to better understand customers by building behavioral profiles to more accurately target messages and increase customer satisfaction.

For more information on iVUE Connect – Marketing, contact NISC at ivueconnect.sales@nisc.coop.

National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) is an information technology organization that develops, implements, and supports software and hardware solutions for our members. Additional information about NISC can be found at www.nisc.coop.


Grant PUD’s 2021 Budget Reflects Growth and Strength, Despite COVID Challenges

(October 14) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) commissioners got their first look at a proposed $380.6 million budget for 2021 that invests in employees and critical assets, continues roll-out of key technology initiatives, controls costs, and doesn’t raise rates.

The budget aligns with Grant PUD’s Strategic Plan and top priorities of Grant PUD customers — reliable electric service, good customer service, clear and timely communication, and keeping rates as low as possible.

“We’re a growing utility,” Commissioner Larry Schaapman said during the first of three virtual budget hearings, October 13 and 15. “We’ve expanded greatly over 10 years. With it comes more work and more responsibilities.”

The 2021 budget contemplates 37 new job positions, accounting for approximately $7 million of the total $11 million increase in wages and salary adjustments, over the 2020 budget, John Mertlich, senior manager of Financial Planning and Analysis, told commissioners. Many of those positions could be filled by existing staff, he said. The positions include more linemen, fiber technicians, and project-management specialists for a balance of both managerial and union/craft employees.

The budget includes $143.6 million in operations-and-maintenance (O&M) expenses, a $17 million increase over the 2020 budget. Power production – expenses that go toward the generation of electricity – account for 39% of the total O&M. Administrative and general expenses account for 39% and power delivery — the electric grid and infrastructure – accounts for 22%. See pages 15-18 of the budget presentation for a further breakdown of budgeted O&M expenditures.

The proposed 2021 capital budget of $143.3 million is a $2.6 million increase over the 2020 budget. The electric system accounts for $73.7 million of the total, driven by a second phase of investment in substations and transmission and $11 million of additional fiber-optic network expansion. Power production accounts for $69.7 million, with major drivers that include $16 million for right-bank (Yakima County-side) improvements at Priest Rapids Dam and continued unit rehabilitation there.

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