Public Power Announcements

NWPPA Welcomes New Utility and Associate Members

(Feb. 2) NWPPA is excited to start 2023 with two new utility members and 12 new associate members, who joined in January.

The new utility members are electric cooperatives Yampa Valley Electric Association in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Mt. Wheeler Power in Ely, Nevada.

Yampa Valley Electric Association was formed as a member-owned electric cooperative in 1940 when rural residents of Northwest Colorado were offered the chance to get full-time electric power wired directly into their homes. YVEA currently serves nearly 27,000 customers over 2,840 miles of line covering a 7,000 square mile service territory that includes the communities of Baggs and Savery in Wyoming as well as Craig, Hayden, Steamboat Springs, and Yampa in Colorado. Its service territory surrounds, but does not include, the town of Oak Creek, Colorado. It is NWPPA’s first Colorado-based utility member. Steve Johnson is the chief executive officer of the cooperative. For more information about the cooperative, visit www.yvea.com.

Mt. Wheeler Power was incorporated in 1963 by local citizens who wanted to bring central station electricity to parts of Nevada and Utah that were commonly known as “One of America’s Last Great Power Deserts.” In 1971, their goal was realized as the cooperative started operations and began providing steady, low-cost power to White Pine County; parts of Elko, Eureka, and Nye counties in Nevada; and Western parts of Tooele, Juab, and Millard counties in Utah. The cooperative currently serves more than 4,600 member-owner accounts disbursed over a 16,000 square mile territory in Nevada and Utah. Kevin Robinson is the general manager of the cooperative. For more information about the cooperative, visit www.mwpower.net.

New associate members are Alchera X/FireScout, Davey Resource Group, GeoEngineers, Hodder & Associates, NES Environmental Health & Safety Solutions, Palouse PowerPano AI, Priority Wire and Cable, Questline Digital, RESA Power, Smart Grid Solutions, and Ultimate Power Inc.


CVEA’s Bedrick Retires After More than 30 Years

CVEA CEO Travis Million and Mary Ellen Bedrick stand together at Bedrick’s retirement celebration.

(Jan. 28) Copper Valley Electric Association (Glennallen, Alaska) employees celebrated Mary Ellen Bedrick’s retirement at the end of January after almost 32 years of service to the members of CVEA.

“We are so grateful to Mary Ellen for her dedication over the years, and will definitely miss her,” CVEA said in a Facebook post congratulating Bedrick on her retirement.

Bedrick worked as the revenue accountant at CVEA and oversaw billing, capital credits, and customer service. During her last year with CVEA, she worked to train her replacement and take care of other projects such as researching and digitizing all the existing easements.

“With 31-plus years working for a co-op, I am still amazed at all the changes that have taken place,” Bedrick said. “It has been a great opportunity and experience.”


BUECI’s Kaleak Receives CCD

(Jan. 25) Barrow Utilities & Electric Cooperative (Alaska) announced that Frieda N. Kaleak, BUECI’s board secretary, has received NRECA’s Credentialed Cooperative Director Program Certificate.

The NRECA Credentialed Cooperative Director program requires attendance and demonstrated understanding of the basic competencies contained in five core courses: Director Duties and Liabilities, Understanding the Electric Business, Board Operations and Process, Strategic Planning, and Financial Decision-Making.

Kaleak began her current term on BUECI’s board in 2021 and will serve through 2024.


MEA, SMUD Announce Scholarship Openings

(Feb. 1) SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) and Matanuska Electric Association’s (Palmer, Alaska) each recently announced they are now accepting applications for their respective scholarship programs.

On Jan. 26, Matanuska Electric Association (Palmer, Alaska) announced a total of $25,000 in scholarships will be awarded this year. Students have until March 17, 2023, to apply for an MEA scholarship. The MEA scholarship program is designed to encourage individuals who are first-time college students, returning students, students participating in a vocational program, or students pursuing professional development that leads to a degree or certification. Applicants must be active members of MEA or a dependent of an active MEA member. For more information and to download the scholarship application, click here. Scholarship winners will be announced at the MEA Annual Meeting on April 25, 2023.

On Feb. 1, SMUD announced it is now accepting applications for the Powering Futures college scholarship. The program awards up to 21 scholarships of up to $4,000 each to undergraduate students who are enrolled or plan to enroll in an accredited two- or four-year college or university. Students must live in SMUD’s service area or have a legal guardian who is a SMUD customer. The awards are based on academic merit and financial need. The deadline to apply for the Powering Futures scholarship is March 1, 2023. More information about the program can be found at www.smud.org/scholarships.


Umatilla Electric Awarded $89 Million Loan for Infrastructure Upgrades

(Feb. 1) USDA’s Rural Development program for electric cooperatives is an integral part of Umatilla Electric Cooperative’s (Hermiston, Ore.) continued success in growth and service to our member communities.

The $89 million loan to UEC for power grid improvements, announced Jan. 30 by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley from Oregon, will go toward a three-year plan to ensure UEC is there for its members with an estimated cost in excess of $121 million.

“Oregon’s severe weather events—from windstorms that down power lines and spark catastrophic infernos to ice and hail storms that cause losses in power as well as property damage—prove that we must fortify our aging grid infrastructure,” Wyden said. “This federal investment to make the power grid more resilient in Northeastern Oregon will go a long way in keeping rural Oregonians in Morrow, Umatilla, and Union counties safer and with power through weather events to come.”

Merkley called the funding a “smart investment” in rural Oregon’s infrastructure.

“Ensuring rural cooperatives have the resources necessary to maintain modern and reliable electric infrastructure provides economic opportunity that rural communities across Oregon need to thrive,” Merkley said. “I’m pleased this funding supporting smart grid technologies is headed to Eastern Oregon.”

The loan program ensures the cooperative can continue to invest and serve UEC members. It also offers UEC an affordable mechanism to finance capital intensive projects, especially in times of rising costs of labor and materials.


French Meadows Partnership Completes Fourth Season of Work

Dr. Safeeq Khan adjusts research instrumentation, which will help assess how vegetation changes from forest management affect water quantity in the local watershed. Photo credit: PCWA.

(Jan. 31) Despite the challenges of an extremely dangerous fire season, including California’s largest wildfire in 2022—the Mosquito Fire—impeding access and limiting operations, partners of the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project, including Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.), have wrapped up their fourth season of forest treatments in the critical headwaters of Tahoe National Forest.

This season, project partners safely treated over 700 acres of federal land using a combination of mastication, mechanical thinning, hand thinning, and prescribed fire. On adjacent private land, the American River Conservancy independently raised funds and treated 338 acres. Combined, this all-lands collaborative watershed management project has treated over 6,000 acres in just four seasons.

Work this season focused on areas most prone to wildfire ignition. The United States Forest Service treated over 200 acres with prescribed pile burns in and around the Talbot campground, improving the aesthetic quality of this important recreation area just north of French Meadows Reservoir. Although dry conditions limited the scope of prescribed burns this year, using fire as a management tool is a cost-effective way to maintain forest conditions that contribute to ecosystem resilience and human health and safety.

“Prescribed burns are a critical component of the partnership’s ecological forestry model,” explained Edward Smith, forest ecologist and fuels manager with The Nature Conservancy. “Under ‘prescribed conditions’ of wind, moisture, and temperature, broadcast burning helps reduce the amount of tinder on the forest floor as well as fuel ladders that could otherwise carry wildfires into the tops of trees, protecting habitat for humans and diverse wildlife species. Fire also reduces brush and twigs to ashes that feeds the roots of trees and understory plants, protecting the soil and its microbial universe, making them more resilient to drought, insects, and climate change.”

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Snohomish PUD Board of Commissioners Approve Rate Increase

(Jan. 30) The Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) Board of Commissioners recently approved a general rate increase for all residential and commercial electric and water customers.

The PUD board also approved a revised implementation of a base charge for electric customers, modifying the remaining deployment schedule from four years to two. The PUD’s base charge, which went into effect April 1, 2022, was implemented to ensure more stable bills for customers and revenue for the PUD, helping it keep rates affordable and freeing up funds for energy-efficiency and income-qualified discount programs.

In December, the PUD’s board approved the 2023 budget for the electric, generation, and water systems. The PUD’s 2023 budget for the electric system includes a 2% general rate increase. The rate increase will go into effect April 1, 2023. It will address higher material costs, inflationary pressure, and supply chain challenges, while also funding investments in infrastructure and service modernization.

“We are working hard to exercise prudent cost management and minimize the impacts to our customers,” said John Haarlow, Snohomish PUD CEO/general manager. “We are continuing our intense focus on providing exceptional value to our customer-owners and our commitment to delivering safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable power.”

The rate increase and the revised schedule of the base charge will be implemented together. The base charge for medium-sized customers (most single-family homes) will increase from 10 cents per day to 34 cents, while the energy usage charge will decrease from 10.47 cents per kilowatt-hour to 10.14 cents/kWh. The result will be an average total increase of approximately $4/month.

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IPEC Announces Fuel Savings from 2022 Hydroelectric Generation

(Jan. 27) Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (Juneau, Alaska) released its report for last year’s hydroelectric generation.

In 2022, the annual generation of IPEC’s Gartina Falls hydroelectric project in Hoonah was a total of 1,489,636 kWh, resulting in fuel savings of 100,047 gallons. Total savings in fuel costs were $468,300. Since August 2015, the Gartina Falls hydroelectric facility has generated 9,270,785 kWh and has saved 633,245 gallons of fuel. The cost of fuel saved since startup is $1,766,279.

In 2022, the annual generation of IPEC’s Gunnuk Creek hydroelectric project in Kake was a total of 776,271 kWh, resulting in fuel savings of 51,643 gallons. Total savings in fuel costs was $218,323. Total generation since October 2020 was 1,680,975 kWh. Since startup, the project has saved 116,597 gallons of fuel and $367,784 in fuel costs.

In 2022, the annual generation of the 10 Mile hydroelectric project in the Chilkat Valley was 1,019,400 kWh. IPEC does not diesel generate in the Chilkat Valley, so there are no fuel savings for comparison.


Kootenai Electric Co-op Experiences Record Peak Load

(Jan. 26) In late December, severe winter weather temperatures dipped to negative 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, area. On Dec. 22, 2022, at around 8 a.m., Kootenai Electric Cooperative (Hayden, Idaho) reached a new system peak load of 148,860 kilowatts, which represents the highest amount of energy that KEC members have drawn from the grid at one time. The previous KEC system peak was 127,161 kW, set in February 2022. Overall, KEC’s system performed very well during this period of extreme weather, with only four load-related outages affecting less than 100 members. KEC assured customers that solutions implemented during the restoration of these load-related outages should prevent recurrence. KEC did have an intermittent disturbance on a power line during the extreme cold weather affecting approximately 980 members in the Hayden Lake area. The cooperative’s crews were able to pinpoint the problem to a faulty line-interrupting recloser that has been replaced.

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Grant PUD Weighs Options to Increase Power Supply

(Jan. 26) As Washington’s Grant County continues to grow, so does the demand for power. A team from Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.), led by Chief Resource Officer Kevin Nordt, has been working on a plan for when power needs exceed the projected output from the utility’s dams and other resources.

Grant PUD expects it will need to regularly blend in new power resources as early as 2025 during the peak summer and winter seasons. While market purchases can be used in the short term to meet the demand, a team is exploring several longer-term options, Nordt told the commissioners during his quarterly update Jan. 24.

Along with market purchases, the power-supply team is also exploring developing a power purchasing contract with the Bonneville Power Administration. BPA sells power generated at 31 federal dams in the Northwest and the Energy Northwest nuclear-power plant in Richland, to regional public utilities. Grant PUD would expect to take delivery of the additional power from BPA in October 2028. Grant PUD is presently in discussions with BPA and other public utilities in the region over how much power would be available for Grant County customers.

The team is also exploring developing new generating resources in Grant County. One option is a hydrogen power plant. The hydrogen plant could be powered by onsite solar panels and off-peak external power to produce hydrogen fuel to generate electricity on demand. Another option is the development of nuclear power using small modular reactor (SMR) technology with X-energy. Nordt said it would take about 10 years from now before an SMR could realistically be online producing power in Grant County. There isn’t a timeline yet for the hydrogen power plant, but it could be deployed sooner, he added.

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Chugach Accepting Applications for Board Vacancy

(Jan. 26) The Chugach Electric Association (Anchorage, Alaska) Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Director Erin Whitney. Whitney is leaving the Chugach board to take the position as director of the Arctic Energy Office for the U.S. Department of Energy. Whitney was first elected to the board in May 2021. She served as vice chair of the Governance Committee and was a member of the Operations Committee. As a result of Whitney’s resignation, Chugach has an immediate vacancy on its seven-member board.

Information on applying for the position can be found at www.chugachelectric.com/media/annual-meeting-election, and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Feb. 9. Following the application deadline, the board will interview candidates. At the Feb. 22 regular board meeting, the board will then appoint a Chugach member who meets the qualifications as specified in Article IV, Section 3 of the Chugach bylaws. The appointee will serve until the seat is filled in the May 2023 election.


NLI to Keep Rates the Same in 2023

(Jan. 1) Northern Lights, Inc. (Sagle, Idaho) announced there will be no electric rate increase for the utility’s consumers in 2023.

“The Northern Lights Board and employees have worked diligently to create a 2023 budget that will not require an increase in rates,” NLI General Manager Annie Terracciano said in her January manager’s message. “Like all industries, NLI has faced increased costs related to inflation in almost all aspects of our business, but with prudent planning and budgeting, we have maintained a healthy financial standing. As we move forward in this era of increasing energy costs, we remain determined to keep your rates stable, while maintaining our financial strength. Northern Lights is committed to providing safe, reliable service at an affordable price.”


WPUDA Welcomes Fairchild as New Administrative Assistant

(Jan. 27) The Washington PUD Association announced the addition of new part-time Administrative Assistant Karlie Fairchild. Fairchild is providing much-needed administrative support for the WPUDA team and will be greeting and assisting members and visitors at WPUDA’s front desk.

Fairchild has a background in customer service, having served previously as a crew manager at Dutch Bros. Coffee and a teller intern at WSECU. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in behavioral health. Fairchild brings to the organization great administrative skills and enthusiasm.

“I am excited to be part of the WPUDA staff and look forward to meeting WPUDA members,” she said.

The Washington PUD Association represents 27 nonprofit, community-owned utilities that provide electricity, water and wastewater services, and telecommunications as well as renewable natural gas and renewable hydrogen to customers across Washington state. For more information, visit www.wpuda.org.


DEA’s Barkouli Receives 2023 Legacy Award

(Jan. 24) David Evans and Associates Chairman and CEO Al Barkouli, PE, Ph.D., has been selected to receive the Engineering News-Record Northwest 2023 Legacy Award for the Pacific Northwest region. This honor is awarded to those who have made significant lifelong contributions to the industry and their chosen professions.

With 34 years of civil engineering and project management experience, Barkouli has served as principal-in-charge and managed projects ranging from highways and light rail to roads and bridges for numerous public-sector clients, including Bonneville Power Administration; the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service; TriMet; and Washington County, Oregon.

Barkouli leads DEA’s executive leadership team and serves as the champion of the firm’s strategic initiatives, including mergers and acquisitions, organizational and cultural change, and exceeding client expectations. He is an alumnus of Portland State University’s Engineering School. He joined DEA in 1988.

David Evans and Associates offers multidisciplinary engineering and planning for transportation, land development, energy, and marine projects. For more information, visit www.deainc.com.


We Remember: Larry Cassidy

Frank “Larry” Cassidy Jr., a retired member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and several other boards and commissions, died Jan. 19 at the age of 83.

Cassidy’s passion for salmon and steelhead in the Northwest—along with his leadership and persuasive lobbying abilities—helped ensure fish conservation was recognized as being just as important as power generation under the Northwest Power Act, and in NWPCC’s name.

Cassidy was appointed to NWPCC by Washington Gov. Gary Locke in 1998 and served until 2008, including three terms as chairperson. He was also involved in numerous other entities involving salmon. He was a member of the Washington State Game Commission—now called the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission—from 1973 to 1985, serving as chair from 1977 to 1981. He was a commissioner in two international forums—the Pacific Salmon Commission and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission—and served on Washington’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

Cassidy also was involved in several nonprofit organizations with missions to protect fish. He was president of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and national vice president of Trout Unlimited.

Those Cassidy worked with praised his leadership, his friendly nature, and genuine concern for other people regardless of their stature.


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