Public Power Announcements

Don Smith Named NWPPA Board President, Awards Presented

Don Smith

(May 22) Last week, at the 83rd NWPPA Annual Business Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, the NWPPA Board of Trustees appointed Don Smith of Wheatland Rural Electric Association (Wyo.) as the 2023-2024 NWPPA board president. The board also appointed the following officers:

  • First Vice President Doug Schmier, Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative (Ashton, Idaho)
  • Second Vice President John Haarlow, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.)
  • Secretary/Treasurer Libby Calnon, Hood River Electric & Internet Co-op (Ore.)
  • Immediate Past President Dave Kelsey, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (Huntley, Mont.)

Additionally, NWPPA membership elected the following individuals to the board of trustees for a first three-year term:

  • Michael Darrington, United Electric Co-op. (Heyburn, Idaho)
  • Jessica Matlock, La Plata Electric Association (Durango, Colo.)
  • Rachel Morse, Chugach Electric Association (Anchorage, Alaska)

During the event, NWPPA also presented the following six awards:

  • Life Member Award: Ann Congdon, Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.)
  • Life Member Award: Roman Gillen, Consumers Power Inc. (Philomath, Ore.)
  • Life Member Award: Will Purser, Clallam County PUD (Carlsborg, Wash.)
  • John M. George Public Service Award: Fred Brog, Lower Valley Energy (Afton, Wyo.)
  • Paul J. Raver Community Service Award: Fall River Helping Hands, Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative (Ashton, Idaho)
  • William “Bill” McCrorie Distinguished Service Award: Kevin Nordt, Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.)

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Modesto Irrigation District Promotes Netniss to Serve as General Manager

(May 25) Modesto Irrigation District (Calif.) has appointed Jimi Netniss as the district’s next general manager. Netniss succeeds Ed Franciosa who has served as general manager since March 2022 and is retiring following a 26-year tenure with MID. Netniss joined MID in 2001 as a programmer in the information technology department. He was promoted to budget and rates administrator in the finance division in 2006, advanced to serve as risk and pricing administrator, and was later promoted to assistant general manager of finance in March 2022.

“Jimi’s knowledge of MID’s operations and strong commitment to truly understanding our customers’ needs will help us successfully continue to provide the highest level of service to our community,” said MID Board President Larry Byrd. “His demonstrated leadership and strategic vision will be an asset as the district navigates any challenges and capitalizes on opportunities ahead.”

Netniss’ general manager appointment is effective on May 26, 2023. His salary and other applicable working condition considerations will be determined at the June 13 MID board meeting.

“I’m humbled and honored by the confidence the board has in me. I look forward to continuing MID’s legacy and I’m excited to lead our talented and great employees,” Netniss said.

Netniss received a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from California State University, Stanislaus.

Yoon, Johnson Take on Leadership Roles at Tacoma

Ray Johnson (second from right) with his family.
Alex Yoon

(May 25) Alex Yoon joined Tacoma Public Utilities on May 22 as the deputy director/chief administrative officer. Also on May 22, Tacoma Power announced that Ray Johnson has been selected as the new power management section manager.

As deputy director/chief administrative officer, Yoon is responsible for the financial and operational administration of Tacoma Public Utilities, including coordinating support of its water, rail, and power utilities serving the City of Tacoma and many neighboring communities in Pierce and King Counties. Yoon has over 25 years of experience, most recently as the chief financial and administrative officer and director of the administrative services division of the Seattle Public Library. Yoon has a B.S. in accounting from the University of Washington and is a Washington CPA.

Johnson has over 20 years of industry experience and has been a part of the Tacoma Power team since 2014. He began as the energy risk manager, and later managed the power rates group. Most recently, Johnson served as the power assistant section manager for the energy resource planning and evaluation team. Prior to coming to Tacoma Power, he worked for The Energy Authority as analytics manager for their West Coast office. Johnson will join the senior leadership team at Tacoma Power. His work with the utility has had tremendous value over the past eight years, and he and his team will help tackle a range of big issues impacting the industry and utility.

Mt. Wheeler Power, Flathead, and Chugach Announce Election Results

(May 25) Three NWPPA members—Chugach Electric Association (Anchorage, Alaska), Flathead Electric Cooperative (Kalispell, Mont.), and Mt. Wheeler Power (Ely, Nevada)—recently announced the outcomes of their 2023 elections.

Chugach members elected three directors to the utility’s seven-member board. Election results were announced May 19 at the cooperative’s annual meeting, with Chugach members re-electing Bettina Chastain and electing Susanne Fleek-Green and Jim Nordlund. Chugach members also approved a bylaw amendment creating a bill roundup program that will allow members to roundup their monthly bill to the nearest dollar.

Flathead Electric’s annual election closed May 19, and the co-op’s board of trustees announced the results May 22. Three seats on the co-op’s board of trustees were up for election this year. Candidates had to be members of the co-op and live in the district they sought election to represent. Incumbent Jerry Bygren retained his seat representing District No. 8. Bygren received 4,265 votes to Mike Wacker’s 1,564. Incumbents Duane Braaten (District No. 6) and Terry Crooks (District No. 9) were unopposed and were re-elected to the board by 5,598 and 5,412 votes, respectively.  This year’s election was the second in which electronic voting was available to members.

Mt. Wheeler Power congratulated District 3 Director Robert Pratt and District 7 Director Martin Plaskett for retaining their seats on the utility’s board and District 1 Director Monica Simon for her election to the board. Pratt and Plaskett ran unopposed in the election, and Monica Simon won her position against Incumbent Ron Miller. Mt. Wheeler Power extended a special thank you to Miller for his years of dedicated service to the cooperative; Miller had served as an employee for more than 30 years. He later joined the board and served as the District 1 board member since 2011.

PCWA Awards Four Grants to Public Water Purveyors

(May 22) At the May 18 meeting of the Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) Board of Directors, the board awarded four grants totaling $173,400 to four public water purveyors in Placer County. The grants, funded through PCWA’s Financial Assistance Program, support Placer County special districts with projects that enhance safe and reliable drinking water service, water infrastructure reliability, and water and energy resources stewardship.

“Every year, we look forward to the opportunity to assist other county water purveyors advance projects that help with their challenges and align with our countywide priorities,” said District 5 Board Director Josh Alpine. “We’re really excited about some of the new projects these districts are undertaking for their future water supply and development needs, and believe the dollars are well-focused and will be well-spent by these four agencies.”

The 2023 grant recipients are included below along with a brief description of each project:

  • Christian Valley Park Community Services District was awarded $65,000 to complete a portion of the design for the Kenneth Loop project, supporting pipeline fire flow capacity.
  • Donner Summit Public Utility District was awarded $20,400 for environmental permitting and the design portion of the Big Bend Water System Pipeline Replacement Project, Phase 1.
  • Foresthill Public Utility District was awarded $45,000 to fund the preparation of a study and pre-design documents to evaluate the construction of a treated water storage tank near Todd’s Valley.
  • North Tahoe Public Utility District was awarded $43,000 to study consolidation efforts as part of NTPUD’s Integrated Water Model.

SMUD Hosts Summit on Clean Energy Jobs, Partners With Cal Expo

(May 19) On May 22, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) hosted a workforce summit for the region’s nonprofits to increase awareness about career pathways and job development support related to clean energy technology and SMUD’s regional decarbonization plan.

“As we progress on our plan to deliver on 100% zero-carbon energy by 2030, SMUD is investing in workforce development programs that prepare the region’s workforce for high-wage careers in clean energy,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Paul Lau. “SMUD believes every community can participate in, and benefit from, the environmental, health, and economic benefits of a clean energy future we’re building together.”

Dozens of Sacramento-area organizations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and other community partners that focus on job placement, workforce development, training, job readiness, and education attended the Regional Workforce Development Summit. The summit focused on emerging skillsets and clean energy workforce pathways; how organizations can incorporate SMUD’s Zero Carbon Plan into their workforce development; and resources that support individuals pursuing job placement, training, and new careers in clean energy.

Also on May 22, SMUD partnered with Cal Expo, iHeartRadio, and KCRA on May 22 to give back to the community with a community e-waste drive. Businesses and residents were invited to bring their e-waste to the Cal Expo Main Gate and drop it off free of charge. Proceeds benefit the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps, Sacramento’s largest education and workforce training program.

This e-waste drive is a follow-up to a previous e-waste drive held in November 2021, which collected more than 30,000 pounds of recycled materials that were diverted away from landfills.

Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps works to enrich the lives of young adults by providing a development program, integrating education, job skills training, and work experience on conservation projects and service opportunities that benefit the entire region.

Umatilla Electric Selects Delegates for National Youth Tour

(L-R) Sanyana Felipe and Claire Owens will represent Umatilla Electric in Washington, D.C., in June.

(May 17) Umatilla Electric Cooperative (Hermiston, Ore.) announced that two local high school juniors have been chosen as the delegates for an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., this June. Sanyana Felipe from Irrigon and Claire Owens from Hermiston have been chosen to represent UEC on a weeklong trip to the nation’s capital this summer to celebrate the 2023 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

UEC’s 2023 Youth Tour delegates will represent Oregon and the Northwest and will join more than 1,500 other students from across the United States for the once-in-a-lifetime trip. During the visit and trip, Sanyana and Claire will visit famous historical sites, meet with Oregon’s congressional leaders, and learn valuable leadership skills.

Owens is first in her class at Hermiston High School and participates in drama club, band, choir, and marching band. She received the physical education student of the year award and multiple awards for her performances in drama club. In addition to her involvement in school, Owens is also a young women’s youth leader at her church. After high school, she would like to study to become an architectural engineer with a minor in business.

Felipe participates in an online school where she assists in teaching her two siblings. She plays violin and piano and received an award from the Oregon Music Teachers Association. Felipe is active in her church via the orchestra, sewing committee, and playing an active role in the church’s Journey to Bethlehem annual event. In addition to her community participation, Felipe received a certificate of achievement for exploring agriscience. After completing high school, she plans to enroll at Blue Mountain Community College to study nursing, with a goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.

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Washington State Broadband Office Awards $121 Million in Grants

(May 16) The Washington State Broadband Office announced over $121 million in grants for 19 broadband construction projects that will deliver reliable, high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved communities across the state.

“Broadband access is essential infrastructure, providing a critical gateway to education, health care, social and economic opportunities,” said Washington Commerce Director Mike Fong. “This funding is the next significant step toward our goal to have high-speed internet access available to every Washington resident and business.”

Demand for the grants exceeded available funds by 261%—50 different projects requested more than $316 million. Among the grant recipients are eight NWPPA members, and their projects conditionally awarded funding are:

  • Franklin County PUD No. 1—$4,854,610 for the Connell and Basin FTTH project.
  • Grays Harbor PUD No. 1—$6,916,366 for the Grays Harbor South Elma, Porter, and Cedarville Broadband project.
  • Jefferson County PUD No. 1—$6,087,687 for the Inbetweens Fiber project.
  • Lewis County PUD No. 1—$11,958,421 for the Bunker Creek project.
  • Mason County PUD No. 3—$3,645,768 for the Cloquallum Communities Rural Broadband Fiber Expansion project.
  • Okanogan County Electric Co-Op—$11,985,014 for the Okanogan County Connect project.
  • Orcas Power and Light Co-Op—$6,446,206 for the Outer Islands project; $3,911,649 for the Orcas Island East project; $3,352,904 for the San Juan Island project; and $1,242,168 for the Orcas Island West.
  • Whatcom PUD No. 1—$3,150,000 for the Point Roberts FTTx project.

The funding announced is part of the state’s investment of the federal Coronavirus Capital Project Fund and continues the Washington Legislature’s commitment to connect communities with little or no reliable, affordable broadband service. Awards are conditional on the receipt of federal funds.

Fitch Affirms SnoPUD’s Electric System Revs at ‘AA-‘; Outlook Stable

(May 12) Fitch Ratings has affirmed the “AA-” rating for Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) for the following: $363.93 million electric system revenue bonds series 2010A, 2015, and 2020A, 2021A; $62.53 million generation system revenue bonds series 2010B, 2015 and 2020A; and long-term issuer default rating. The rating outlook is Stable.

The affirmation of the ‘AA-‘ rating reflects the district’s very strong financial profile in relation to a very low operating cost burden and strong revenue defensibility. The revenue defensibility is anchored by the independent ability to adjust retail electric rates as necessary and very strong service area characteristics. Financial performance in 2022 was strong, as the district increased both retail and wholesale MWh sales year over year and had the highest total sales volume and largest net margin over the past five years. Leverage (measured by net debt to net adjusted funds available for debt service) increased from 4.8x in 2020 to 5.2x in 2022 due to additional issuances of debt, but it remains very low and supportive of the current rating.

The rating incorporates a degree of financial variability resulting from attributes associated with a hydroelectric system exposed to wholesale sales that may vary significantly based on hydrology and market energy prices. The district purchases the majority of its energy supply from the Bonneville Power Administration. While very favorably priced, this exposes the district to hydrology risk and a variable energy supply.

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Cowlitz PUD Opens Community Garden

(May 11) Cowlitz PUD (Longview, Wash.) has acquired a 2.3-acre parcel of land, adjacent to the Baker’s Corner Substation located at 5746 Mt Solo Road in Longview. In the district’s continued efforts to engage the community through unique opportunities, the PUD has developed this property into a community garden. Garden plots became available for registration in mid-April.

Cowlitz is contracting and consulting with Scott and Dixie Edwards, the owners of Watershed Garden Works. Coincidentally, the property was purchased by Cowlitz PUD from Scott’s mother, who had moved there with her husband around the 1940s and maintained it as a working farm while raising their family. There’s a lot of deep history of farming in the Edwards family, including Scott moving back to Cowlitz County and helping start Cowlitz County’s first community gardens. Watershed Garden Works are experts in farming and gardening and have been a wonderful community partner through this project. This piece of land not only has a deep history of farming, but its soil has been maintained and preserved and is rich with the nutrients it needs to ensure quality growth.

Plots will be available to access by May 31 (weather permitting) and cost $35 each. All proceeds will go into the PUD’s Warm Neighbor Fund, which helps low-income families pay their utility bills. Plot availability is on a first-come, first-served basis, and limited to two plots per registrant. If the plots are filled, people will be added to a waitlist and contacted when a plot becomes available. Organizers are considering expanding plot space in 2024.

Grant PUD Electric System Upgrades Are Near Completion

(May 11) An approximately $75 million package of electric-system upgrades over 10 sites around Grant County will be complete by late next year to reduce outage times and increase the electric supply for residential, businesses and industrial growth.

Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) Project Manager David Klinkenberg gave commissioners an update May 9.

The projects, which are known collectively as “Design Build 2,” include five new substations; upgrades to existing substations; and the new, 10-mile, 115-kV Red Rock transmission line to increase the electric supply to Royal City. Six of the 10 projects are more than 60% complete. Four are already energized and serving customers in the Quincy, George, and Royal City areas. Construction on the Red Rock Substation began May 4. Red Rock Transmission Line property easements have been acquired, and the design process is 90% complete.

Planning for Design Build 2 began in 2018. Early cost estimates ranged from $42.6 million to $62.6 million. Delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting supply chain shortages, inflationary cost increases, and changes in the overall project scope bumped the cost to $75.3 million with an additional planned scoping change order proposed that would increase total cost to $104 million.

“It’s a lot of work. It’s a project that demonstrates the importance of teamwork,” Commissioner Tom Flint said.

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Cowlitz PUD Honored for Workforce Education Best Practices

(L-R) Cowlitz PUD Human Resource Manager Marisa Heard, Training and Development Specialist Teedara Wolf, and Public Relations Manager Alice Dietz.

(May 11) Cowlitz PUD (Longview, Wash.) took home the top prize at the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Pillars of Strength Awards Ceremony for Workforce Best Practices.

Over the years, Cowlitz PUD has cultivated relationships with public and private K-12 schools, higher education institutions, local businesses, chambers, and career and technical educators to develop and implement the utility’s youth outreach programs. As a result, the PUD is seeing stronger connections to the community, new hires specializing in utility-related fields, and a growing interest in what careers a utility has to offer.

Cowlitz PUD’s Training and Development Specialist Teedara Wolf and some fellow PUD employees accepted the award on the district’s behalf. Wolf has spearheaded the career development efforts that included inviting Kelso and Longview students to spend a day at the PUD learning about the multiple departments, jobs, and career possibilities, as well as the education necessary to attain those careers.

Mission Valley Power Announces Scholarship Winners

(May 9) Ten students recently earned $800 scholarships from Mission Valley Power (Pablo, Mont.). The scholarship recipients are Elaina Keast, Sidney Bauer, Caitlyn Ward, Owen McElwee, James Kenelty, Aspen McKee, Kyla Tomlin, Hayleigh Smith, Katelyn Young, and Tre Heath-LaFrombis. Mission Valley Power awards scholarships to local students on an annual basis.

Weber Named NISC Vice President of Member Success

(May 17) National Information Solutions Cooperative, a leading provider of IT solutions to broadband and utility organizations, has named Mike Weber as vice president of member success.

Weber has served NISC’s members for 26 years, with a long history of serving in a leadership role in member support. He most recently served as director of member support following an organizational restructure in 2021. He’ll officially assume the new role on May 28.

“Employee development, including leadership development, is an important tradition at NISC. It’s great when these opportunities come along, and we had several qualified candidates from our current employees to choose from,” said Doug Remboldt, NISC vice president of member success and incoming president and CEO. “Mike has a passion for service and serves with a sense of urgency. I’m excited for Mike and his future contributions to our members and employees.”

“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve our members and employees in this role,” Weber said. “NISC is built on the shared goal of helping our members succeed. I’m excited to continue that legacy, continue to strengthen those relationships, and help members get the most out of their partnership with NISC.”

NISC’s member success division consists of account management, member value, and member support groups, which are focused on strengthening partnerships with members, helping them get the most value possible from their NISC solutions, and providing them world-class support and training.

National Information Solutions Cooperative is an information technology organization that develops, implements, and supports software and hardware solutions for telephone companies, electric cooperatives, and other public power entities. NISC serves members in all 50 states, American Samoa, Palau, and Canada. For more information, visit

NuScale Signs MOU With Nucor to Explore SMR Deployment

(May 16) NuScale Power Corporation and Nucor Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore co-locating NuScale’s VOYGR small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) power plants to provide clean, reliable baseload electricity to Nucor’s scrap-based electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mills. The companies will also explore an expanded manufacturing partnership through which Nucor, the largest steel producer and recycler of any type of material in North America, would supply Econiq, its net-zero steel products, for NuScale projects.

As part of the MOU, the companies will evaluate site suitability, transmission interconnection capabilities, and capital costs for potential NuScale plants to be sited near and provide carbon-free electricity to Nucor EAF steel mills. In addition, NuScale will study the feasibility of siting a manufacturing facility for NuScale Power Modules near a Nucor facility.

NuScale’s VOYGR power plants, which can be scaled in different plant configurations to produce up to 924 MWe of output, are well-suited for industrial applications as a highly reliable source of carbon-free energy. As the first and only SMR design to be approved and certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NuScale’s VOYGR plants include fully passive safety features which eliminate the need for an external grid connection to perform key safety functions and can achieve a site boundary Emergency Planning Zone, improving plant siting flexibility for industrial users like Nucor.

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NuScale Power Corporation is the industry-leading provider of proprietary advanced nuclear small modular reactor technology. For more information, visit

SPIDA Announces Release of SPIDAcalc v8.0

(May 15) SPIDA, a Bentley company, announced the highly anticipated release of SPIDAcalc v8.0. This release showcases a brand-new automated vertical clearance evaluation as well as terrain modeling enhancements, providing users with a complete pole line design solution.

The new automated vertical clearance functionality assists designers in real time as they evaluate vertical clearances, enabling analysis results in seconds. Featuring a configurable rules engine, SPIDAcalc provides users with the flexibility needed to align with varying safety codes and design standards. This transformative launch lands at a pivotal moment, as the utility industry expresses intense interest in pole infrastructure stemming from investments in broadband and grid resilience initiatives.

The enhanced terrain functionality allows users to import terrain data from user-defined data sets or from national service databases, allowing designers to better model rights of way. In addition, multiple environmental regions can be defined along a span, including custom environments, and multiple terrain layers can be used to show changes throughout the design process.

“This release is an evolutionary step that incorporates automated clearance evaluation and terrain modeling within SPIDAcalc, positioning SPIDA and Bentley at the forefront of grid modeling and analysis of such critical assets,” said Brett Willitt, general manager of SPIDA.

SPIDA is the enterprise solution provider that helps electric utilities, telecommunications companies, and contractors model, analyze, and manage overhead infrastructure assets. For more information, visit