We Remember: Ronald Harper
A lifelong Washingtonian, Harper was born on March 31, 1933, in Seattle and grew up in Ballard, graduating from Ballard High School in 1951. While in high school he played basketball for the first Ballard team to play in the state tournament and was honored to be named to the All-City Team in 1951.
He proudly served in the U.S. Army 1953-54, serving in Korea during the war. Upon discharge he attended Everett Junior College in 1955-57, where he also participated in basketball. In 1957 he began a career spanning almost 30 years at the Snohomish County PUD, retiring in 1986. Hired as a meter reader, he retired as the South County manager. His second career was six years as executive director of the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce, an organization he served earlier as board president.
Harper was active in many industry and community organizations, including the Illuminating Engineering Society, president of the Electric League of the PNW, and was chair of the Marketing/Public Relations Committee of NWPPA.
He was a member of Lynnwood Rotary, active in the United Way of Snohomish County, and served on many association boards, including Pilchuck Campfire and the Edmonds Education Association.
Harper married Judi in 1994 and they had 27 wonderful years together. He particularly enjoyed golf, and several trips to Europe, Hawaii, and the California desert.
He leaves behind wife, Judi; daughters, Renee (and Mehrdad) Azarpay, Kathi (and Kevin) Kopak, and Erin (and Paul) Kasper; eight grandchildren; nine great grandchildren; and sisters, Barbara Anderson (and Jack Gunnette) and Beverly (and Ben) Laigo.
No public service at his request.
Energy Northwest Board Names Grover Hettel as Interim CEO
(June 16) Today, Energy Northwest’s executive board named Grover Hettel as the agency’s interim chief executive officer. Hettel has been the agency’s chief nuclear officer since 2018, and will succeed Brad Sawatzke who will retire on June 30.
Hettel joined Energy Northwest in 2012 as vice president for Nuclear Operations. Before joining EN, he served as operations director and plant general manager at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Phoenix, Ariz.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have Grover as an integral part of Energy Northwest’s leadership team for almost a decade, and his talent, compassion, and pursuit of excellence puts the agency in very capable hands,” said Sid Morrison, Energy Northwest Executive Board chair. “We’ve got a top performing nuclear plant, an exciting future with advanced nuclear, and a leader who’s helped us achieve these goals.”
Sawatzke announced his plans to retire earlier this year. During his 10+ years with Energy Northwest, the agency expanded its carbon-free energy portfolio, reduced costs, and improved performance.
“We owe our deepest gratitude to Brad for his incredible leadership as CEO and for building a strong team that ensures continued success,” Morrison said.
As interim CEO, Hettel will lead an organization of more than 1,000 employees who help power the region and he will provide oversight of the agency’s mix of carbon-free resources, including hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, and battery storage facilities.
Hettel will remain CNO with responsibility for the overall performance of the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant, Columbia Generating Station, which provides approximately 10% of Washington’s electricity, or enough power for one million homes. During the last decade, Columbia set numerous generation records, earned multiple safety awards, and received industry recognition for performance.
Snohomish PUD Summer Projects Will Enhance Reliability for Customers
(June 15) Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) crews will be busy this summer making electric system improvements and completing preventative maintenance projects. The work helps ensure the PUD maintains high levels of reliability through storm season and meets growing demand.
The PUD has work scheduled on many of its substations, including standard maintenance, equipment replacement, and automation upgrades. PUD crews will install a new transformer at its Paine Field Substation, which serves both industrial and residential customers. The new transformer will be filled with FR3 seed oil instead of mineral oil, creating an even higher level of safety in the unlikely case of a fire.
Construction on the new Twin City Substation in Stanwood is scheduled to be substantially complete this summer. The new substation will replace the North Stanwood Substation and will increase reliability to Stanwood and Camano Island. In July, PUD crews will also rebuild overhead circuits and install underground circuits on Pioneer Highway near the new substation.
In the Woods Creek area outside Monroe, the PUD will replace more than 50 distribution poles and install transmission lines to connect the circuits from the PUD’s Woods Creek and Lake Chaplain substations. The work will improve reliability for the City of Everett’s water treatment plant at Lake Chaplain and the PUD’s Jackson Hydroelectric Project powerhouse.
The PUD will perform work this summer in preparation for new large commercial customers arriving. Crews will install two new underground feeder circuits to eventually energize the new Northpoint development, which spans 10 properties in the Smokey Point area, and relocate infrastructure to eventually serve the new Costco in Lake Stevens.
Chelan PUD Funds Several Conservation Efforts, Wraps Up Salmon Survival Study
(June 15) Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) upheld its commitment to salmon and stewardship by investing in habitat improvements and hatchery programs in 2020. The PUD contributed $1,010,438 of the $2,714,354 collective costs of habitat restoration projects located in the mid-Columbia tributaries, including:
- Beaver Creek: Correction project, Chelan County Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
- Chiwawa River: Floodplain reconnection and enhancement, Chelan County DNR; Big Meadow fish passage restoration with Cascade Fisheries
- Nason Creek: Nason Kahler instream complexity project, Chelan County DNR
- Icicle Creek: City of Leavenworth fish screen, Trout Unlimited
- Chumstick Creek: Baseflow and riparian enhancement, Cascadia Conservation District
- Wenatchee River: Goodwin side channel assessment, Cascade Fisheries
Chelan PUD, through its hatcheries and funding agreements, released more than 1.8 million fish into the upper- and mid-Columbia River last year.
The salmon survival study at Rock Island Dam is off to a strong start with nearly 1,000 yearling Chinook salmon tagged, and millions of data points logged over the last month. The goal is to achieve at least 93% survival rate as juvenile salmon pass Rock Island on their way to the ocean. Final results are expected in September.
A survival study is required every 10 years by the Habitat Conservation Plans for Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams. Chelan PUD developed the HCPs cooperatively with state and federal fisheries agencies and tribes. Chelan PUD fisheries staff are planning a 10-year survival study at Rocky Reach Dam in 2022.
The HCPs commit the PUD to a 50-year program to ensure that its hydro projects have no net impact on the mid-Columbia salmon and steelhead runs. To achieve that standard, the PUD has invested in dam passage improvements, off-site hatchery programs, predator control, and habitat restoration work in the mid-Columbia tributary systems.
Grays Harbor PUD Seeking Applicants for Vacancy on PUD Board
(June 14) The Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) commissioners have announced an upcoming vacancy on the PUD Board of Commissioners. The vacancy arises because of the retirement of District 3 Commissioner Russ Skolrood.
Under state law, the two remaining commissioners have 90 days to appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy until next year’s election. Application instructions can be found on the PUD website at www.ghpud.org. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on June 30. Those interested can download application instructions from the PUD website at https://www.ghpud.org/employment-opportunities/892-commissioner-vacancy-district-3.
The candidate for the position must be a registered voter living within the PUD’s District 3 which includes Hoquiam, Humptulips, Ocean Shores, Copalis, Pacific Beach, Moclips, Taholah, Amanda Park, and Quinault. Grays Harbor PUD is an Equal Opportunity Employer and as such, encourages all qualified individuals in the community to apply.
Candidates should have a strong interest in public service, be willing to commit the time necessary to perform the commissioner’s duties, and be able to meet the challenges of fulfilling the district’s mission to “Serve our community with high value utility services at the lowest practical cost.”
The PUD commissioners will be addressing significant issues for the customers of the PUD during 2021 and the future, including compliance with the Energy Independence Act, requirements for renewable energy and conservation, rising costs of power and operations, minimal load growth, and future power supply challenges. The commissioners also approve the utility budget; make policy decisions that affect the district and its customers; set rates and charges for services; approve the Strategic Plan; and appoint the general manager.
The position of PUD commissioner pays a monthly salary and per diem compensation for meetings attended on behalf of the district pursuant to RCW 54.12.080. Commissioners are also eligible for group insurance for themselves, their immediate family, and dependents.
Bentley Systems Announces Acquisition of SPIDA
(June 14) Bentley Systems, Incorporated, the infrastructure engineering software company, today announced the acquisition of SPIDA Software, developers of specialized software for the design, analysis, and management of utility pole systems. Founded in 2007 in Columbus, Ohio, SPIDA offers modeling, simulation, and data management software solutions to electric and communications utilities, and their engineering services providers, in the U.S. and Canada. The integration of SPIDA within Bentley’s OpenUtilities engineering software and grid digital twin cloud services will help address the challenges of transitioning to new renewable energy sources including for electric vehicle charging, joint usage of utility poles to support broadband networks’ 5G expansion, and modernizing and hardening the electric grid to maintain reliability and resilience.
Grid digital twins can provide utilities with immersive and engineering-accurate geospatial representations of their transmission and distribution assets, combining intelligent network and structural analysis with as-operated 3D and 4D physical reality. Bentley’s OpenUtilities grid digital twin solutions enable operators and power producers to evaluate grid trade-offs and opportunities, now spanning traditional and renewable sources and energy storage, as they provision services to meet demand. Digital twins advance asset health management by converging IT, OT, and ET (engineering modeling and simulations) to leverage infrastructure IoT data sources and predictive analytics for improved safety, performance, and reliability. With the incorporation of SPIDA, the reach of grid digital twins can now extend to the utility pole networks and structures, which deliver the environmentally vulnerable “last mile” of critical infrastructure for vital energy and communications.
Serving the electric and telecommunication industries since 2007, SPIDA Software’s (www.spidasoftware.com) cost-effective Structure Management System is a unique platform developed to create a digital twin of utility overhead systems and a centralized portal for the coordination of activities including joint use and engineering.
Fall River Electric to Host Energy Expo
(June 11) Fall River Electric Cooperative is hosting a free in-person Energy Expo in conjunction with its annual business meeting for owner-members on Saturday, June 19, in Ashton, Idaho, at North Fremont High School. Doors open at 9 a.m. Every owner-member (customer) of Fall River Electric will be given a free rechargeable electric lighter great for camping trips and outdoor cookouts. Fall River will host booths providing information on solar and wind turbine installation, electric vehicles, energy conservation rebates to help members pay for home or business improvement, and more. Also, members will receive a free energy conservation kit including six LED bulbs, a thermostatically controlled showerhead, kitchen and bath aerators and an LED nightlight.
Lots of fun activities for kids focused on science, technology, engineering and math or STEM are scheduled plus every child of a member will receive a free LED key chain.
Owner-members are invited to stay for the annual business meeting starting at 10 a.m. where they can attend in person or virtually, as the meeting will be live streamed on the co-op’s website. Whether you attend in person or online, members will be entered into a random drawing to win a $1,000 energy credit grand prize, a PitBoss wood pellet grill and smoker combination, $100 Amazon gift cards, and more. Over $70,000 in continuing education scholarships will be awarded to students. Most importantly, voting for three board candidates from a field of seven will be finalized and the winning candidates announced.
“After the events of 2020, we are looking forward to meeting with our owner-members who we know and recognize as friends and neighbors. The events planned for our expo are geared to provide helpful information for young and old alike while also recognizing the success of our local high school students who have earned scholarships,” said Fall River Electric Cooperative CEO/General Manager Bryan Case. “By offering the cooperative’s business meeting both online and in person, members have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the value of being an owner-member of a successful electric utility.”
OTEC Asks Member-Owners to Be on the Lookout for Trees Near Power Lines
(June 10) Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.) is asking its member-owners to be on the lookout for any trees or branches hanging or leaning too close to power lines and to call the cooperative if you see one. Trees that grow too close to power lines can cause outages or create other hazardous conditions.
“Although most trees do not present a problem, some of them grow into or crowd power lines or other utility equipment,” said Maaike Schotborgh, OTEC’s safety and loss control manager. “When greenery becomes too close for comfort, we have to address it because overgrowth can interfere with power distribution and create a hazard for those on the ground.”
Tree branches that come in contact with power lines can interfere with electrical service. For example, the lights in your house may flicker when tree branches brush power lines during high winds. Stormy weather can also cause limbs to break off and land on lines.
OTEC works year-round to trim or remove tree branches, and in some cases, remove trees. OTEC’s tree-trimming program is a key aspect of the cooperative’s priority of delivering electrical service safely and reliably to its member-owners.
If you, as an OTEC member, see a tree or limb near a power line, call OTEC immediately at (541) 523-3616 and the cooperative will come out and fix the problem.
OTEC also wants to stress to everyone to never try and trim branches or limbs by themselves. Only certified utility line clearance workers are allowed to work on trees or branches within 10 feet of a power line. If you see a tree or a limb leaning on a line or getting too close, do not take the potentially fatal risk of trying to remove it yourself. Make sure to call OTEC.
EVs Offer Unique Potential for Rural Cooperatives, Communities
(June 10) Electric vehicles could make up 10% of all new car sales by 2025, a five-fold increase from current levels that will create new revenue opportunities for rural electric cooperatives. The anticipated surge in adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is being fueled by cost reductions, new commitments from car manufacturers, expanded policy initiatives and an ambitious build-out of charging infrastructure.
According to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, 2-5% of all new car sales in rural communities could be electric by 2025. The urban-rural adoption gap is expected to tighten further as total ownership savings over the life of most EVs are greater for rural residents, who typically log more miles than urban residents. On average, most consumers can expect to save nearly $8,000 in fuel costs over the useful life of an electric vehicle.
“From a grid management perspective, the amount of electricity the U.S. consumes will certainly increase with greater EV adoption,” said Teri Viswanath, lead energy economist with CoBank. “However, the investment required to accommodate this growth may be smaller than it appears, as many regions already have sufficient generation capacity if vehicles are charged during off-peak hours.”
With 80% or more of charging taking place at home, EV adoption represents a new revenue opportunity for rural electric cooperatives. Rural cooperatives can also play an instrumental role in smoothing the road toward transition for their communities through a variety of initiatives, including building public charging infrastructure, added Viswanath.
According to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently 42,440 U.S. public recharging stations, with a third concentrated in California. President Biden has proposed spending at least $15 billion to increase the number of charging stations 12-fold, with the goal of reaching 500,000 nationwide by 2030.
CoBank (www.cobank.com) is a $160 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing, and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water, and communications providers in all 50 states.