Public Power Announcements

Chelan PUD Names Kirk Hudson as New General Manager

(September 20) After an extensive national search, the Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) Commission today unanimously selected Kirk Hudson, a recognized public power leader in the Pacific Northwest, as its new general manager. Hudson, who will assume the role on January 1, 2022, has served in several positions for Chelan PUD in the past 24 years, most recently as its managing director of generation and transmission. He replaces Steve Wright who has served as general manager since 2013.

“During our community outreach this spring, we received hundreds of comments from customers and employees about the qualities they wanted to see in a new general manager,” said Randy Smith, president of the PUD’s board of commissioners. “This input was vital to our recruitment process and our selection of Kirk Hudson. He was the clear choice to advance the PUD’s mission and continue our work to enhance the quality of life for our customer-owners.”

“We heard several consistent themes from the community and employees,” said Commissioner Steve McKenna. “There was interest in recruiting a candidate with strong leadership skills, business management acumen, integrity, background with Pacific Northwest issues, solid communications skills, and understanding of renewable energy. We also heard numerous comments about considering candidates internally and within our region.”

“Kirk is keenly focused on customers and meeting their changing interests,” said Commissioner Ann Congdon. “He shares our interest in creating the best value for customers and continuing to offer new ways for them to do business with us and make choices about energy use.”

Commissioners also reinforced Hudson’s commitment to implementing the PUD’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.

“As part of our five-year plan, we’re making multiple investments on behalf of customers,” said Commissioner Dennis Bolz. “We’re modernizing hydropower projects, building new facilities for better customer service, accelerating fiber buildout for faster internet, building new substations, and expanding tree trimming to support reliability. Kirk was the best candidate to lead these critical efforts going forward.”

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John Donner Joins Umatilla Electric

(September 16) A longtime CoBank executive and former NWPPA trustee has joined Umatilla Electric Cooperative (Hermiston, Ore.) as vice president of finance and rates, a newly created position at the utility. John Donner will work to develop and enhance financial and fiscal responsibilities associated with UEC’s power supply obligations.

Donner began his career in 1991 as a credit analyst at St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives in Minnesota, working with rural infrastructure borrowers in the Midwest. After that bank merged with CoBank in 1999, Donner worked with borrowers in the telecommunications industry as a relationship manager before changing his focus to electric distribution cooperatives in 2011.

Over the past 10 years, he has worked with cooperatives in 15 states and most recently managed a loan portfolio with balances in excess of $825 million.

“John’s banking background, his knowledge of electric cooperatives, and the relationships he has built during his career make him a welcomed asset to our cooperative,” said Robert Echenrode, UEC general manager and CEO. “We will be leaning heavily on John’s skills to help guide our power purchasing strategy.’’

Donner holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and an MBA from the University of Rochester in New York. In his spare time, he is an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

“Umatilla Electric Cooperative is an innovative, rapidly growing, and financially strong organization,” Donner said. “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to move to Oregon, join the team at UEC, and begin the next chapter of my professional career.”


Get Ready to Bid at Annual Surplus Auction

(September 25) Trucks, trailers and other heavy equipment will be available for sale at an online surplus auction at 9 a.m. on September 25 at yarbro.com.

Hosted by Chuck Yarbro Auctioneers of Moses Lake, the auction will feature more than 25 items from Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.), and more than 50 previously owned items by businesses and public agencies around North Central Washington, including boats, mowers, ATVs, farm equipment, and semi-trucks.

“We take such good care of our equipment, these auctions are usually well-attended,” said Michael Shrader, fleet equipment specialist at Chelan PUD. “Yarbro is having tremendous online turnout at these auctions with people bidding from all over the country.”

Check out the catalogue at Chuck Yarbro Auctioneers website. Pre-auction viewing will be allowed in person 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 23-24, at 210 Easy Street in Wenatchee. Bidding will be available online only.


BPA Aligns People and Strategy Functions to Drive Its Culture and Competitiveness

(September 22) The Bonneville Power Administration’s executive structure is changing. The realignment by Administrator and CEO John Hairston will strengthen the agency’s strategic capabilities and enhance its commitment to its workforce.

The move recognizes ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and concerns about workers’ mental health and wellbeing. It also comes as BPA prepares to refresh its agency strategy and negotiate new long-term wholesale power contracts with its public utility customers.

“The Northwest depends on BPA to deliver reliable, affordable, carbon-free power every day. That job is only getting more and more complicated,” said Hairston. “It’s just good business to ensure we do all we can to attract and retain the best talent, and to provide a workplace that drives employee satisfaction and productivity. That’s the best way to ensure we succeed in performing our public service mission, meeting our responsibilities, and providing excellent service to our customers.”

Dan James, who joined BPA’s leadership team in 2016 as deputy administrator, will now direct the agency’s new Workforce and Strategy Office.

“Dan brings passion and compassion to our people and cultural awareness efforts, as well as a breadth of strategic planning experience,” said Hairston. “As our new chief workforce and strategy officer, he will ensure we’re effectively planning and executing our strategies and boosting our employee recruitment, retention and diversity and inclusion efforts.”

The realignment brings the agency’s people-related and strategy functions into the same executive portfolio and refocuses the deputy administrator role. BPA’s Workforce and Strategy Office will include the agency’s existing communications, human resources, and Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity organizations. The agency will also add two new organizations:

  • The new Technology Innovation and Strategy Office will bring together strategic planning, technology research, and development programs.
  • The new Culture Office will focus on the agency’s culture strategy, employee engagement, and diversity and inclusion functions.

The new organizational changes go into effect on September 26.

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New Fiber Project in Development for Jefferson PUD

(September 22) Jefferson PUD (Port Angeles, Wash.) is applying for funding from the State of Washington’s Public Works Board to build out a fiber network to homes and businesses along the eastern edge of Discovery Bay and on Anderson Lake Road.

Jefferson PUD laid the groundwork for this project in 2020 by leasing access to the Bonneville Power Authority’s fiber trunk line running from Olympia to Port Angeles along the eastern flank of the Olympic National Park and Forest. This project would also build off of fiber installed in the planned Quilcene to Discovery Bay project. If awarded, construction would begin in 2022.

PUD fiber will offer minimum speeds of 100 mbps upload and download, with gig or higher speeds also available. Fiber also means almost zero lag or latency in service, unlike satellite. Monthly cost for service is likely to begin at $65/mo before taxes. Low-income rates will be available. Voice over internet phone service will also be available. Although the PUD plans to be an internet service provider for connections built in this area, PUD fiber is “open access.” That means connected residents will have the option to choose a different service provider if available.

To help improve the PUD’s chances of receiving a $2M grant from the Public Works Board, residents and businesses in the project area are asked to send in letters of support for the project. This can be done online via a survey or by filling out the paper survey and support letter included in a pre-paid return address postcard that were sent to all properties in the project areas the last week of July. The PUD needs all support letters, either digital or paper, returned by Monday, September 27 2021. The more we get the better our chances. We need support from residents and businesses in the project area to make this a reality!


Gen.G and SMUD Partner with Local Middle School for Colts Generational Gaming Academy

(September 22) Global esports organization Gen.G and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (Calif.) today announced they would be joining forces this fall to host the Colts Generational Gaming Academy at Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School in Elk Grove, California.

The experiential after-school program takes the passion students have for gaming and will turn it into a launchpad for engagement in STEM, sustainability, and innovation. Students will actively learn about relevant, impactful topics taught through the eyes of gaming to acquire meaningful skills applicable to real-life careers through constructive projects.

“We could not be more excited to expand our education insights, reach, and resources to Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School,” said Kahlil Keys, director of strategic initiatives at Gen.G. “We are proud to partner with a school that shares our mission to equip students with tangible skills and networks that enable them to pursue successful futures. We believe this program will ultimately establish a new framework for helping students define their dream careers in STEM through engagement with gaming technology and professionals.”

One hundred Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School students were selected to participate in the 20-week after-school program, which launches on October 4. The classes, designed in joint effort by Gen.G and SMUD, will fall under three categories: Gaming and Esports, Gaming and Society, and Gaming and Innovation. Classes will teach students about topics like zero-carbon technology, game development fundamentals, content creation basics, and sustainability. Students will also have the opportunity to meet gaming industry professionals including content creators, professional gamers, and those working in marketing at various video game companies.

“Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School is proud to partner with Gen.G in offering our students an opportunity to explore a potential career pathway in the world of gaming,” said Charles Amy, principal of Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School. “This program will integrate student passions of video game and design, with everyone’s number one goal: learning. We foresee nothing but fruitful outcomes from this endeavor.”

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Snohomish PUD Has Options for Customers Behind on Electric, Water Bills

(September 22) With Gov. Jay Inslee’s utility shut-off moratorium ending on September 30, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) customers who are behind on their bills are encouraged to reach out for assistance to help get back on track and save future time and stress.

“Due to the pandemic, we know there are many customers with varying circumstances who might need assistance,” said John Haarlow, PUD CEO/general manager. “We want every customer who feels they might need help to pay their bill or manage a balance to reach out to us. Assistance is only a phone call away.”

PUD customer service representatives have numerous options to help customers stay current on their electric and water bills. Customers can take advantage of extended payment arrangements, generous payment plans to help customers stretch balances, and reduced bills for income-qualified customers.

PUD customers are encouraged to call Customer Service at (425) 783-1000 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) for assistance.

After the utility shut-off moratorium expires, the PUD does not plan to immediately return to the prior disconnection process. Instead, the PUD desires to continue to reach out proactively to customers and help those who are experiencing financial hardship return to manageable balances. The PUD is also partnering with local agencies to connect customers with available federal grant money to ensure as many customers as possible can be reached.

“This assistance is not one-size-fits-all,” said Pam Baley, PUD assistant general manager of customer and energy services. “If a customer is struggling with a balance, it’s important to contact us so we can find the best solution for their individual situation. Our goal is to meet customers where their needs are, whether that means help with payment arrangements, financial assistance or energy saving products.”

Customers can access their account information through the MySnoPUD customer portal. MySnoPUD gives customers 24/7 secure access to their account, including account balance, payments and billing history. A recent upgrade allows PUD customers to access and initiate payment arrangements on MySnoPUD.


Seattle City Light Creates Multimillion-Dollar Fund to Support Fish on the Skagit 

(September 21) With a unanimous vote of the City Council on Monday, Seattle created a new fund to support endangered fish species in the Skagit River watershed, including bull trout and Chinook salmon. As Seattle City Light works with Tribal, state, and federal agencies in pursuit of a new federal license to operate the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, the Skagit Habitat Enhancement Program will fund fish and aquatic habitat projects.

The fund, proposed by City Light in April 2021, will start with $2.5 million, to which $500,000 will be added every year until the new license is in place. City Light will administer the fund with input from the Upper Skagit, Swinomish, and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes, and federal and state resource agencies. This fund augments ongoing mitigation projects as discussion continues toward new federal licensing requirements.

“In April, we committed to the Tribes and other partners that we would dedicate funds, outside of the current and future license and settlement agreements, to protect the fish species in the Skagit River,” said Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO Debra Smith. “Council’s action allows us to make good on that promise. We are looking forward to working with the Tribes, federal and state resource agencies to make lasting improvements to the watershed.”

The current Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license to operate the Skagit Project was issued to Seattle City Light in 1995. As part of that license, City Light and partners entered into the Fisheries Settlement Agreement, which has guided City Light funding of multiple projects in the Skagit River watershed, including side channel habitat restoration, research into salmon habitats and patterns of fish-use, and acquisition of thousands of acres of land to protect important habitat. That funding source was designed to expire by 2025; this new fund will be automatically replenished every year.

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Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Extended Two Weeks

(September 20) The 2021 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery season has been extended through October 17 at select registration stations. The reward program, in its 31st season, pays anglers to catch qualifying northern pikeminnow in the Columbia River Basin.

Anglers are paid $5 to $8 for each qualifying northern pikeminnow caught, and specially tagged fish are worth $500 each. Eligible fish are at least nine inches long and caught according to program rules.

Northern pikeminnow consume millions of young salmon and steelhead each year. Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed more than 5 million of these predators from the Columbia and Snake rivers, annually reducing predation on young salmon and steelhead by approximately 40%.

So far this season, anglers have caught more than 68,000 qualifying fish under the program. The two-week extension presents more opportunities to earn cash for additional catches.

“This is the time of year when catch rates are historically the highest of the season, and it’s great that we can offer people a couple of extra weeks to be rewarded for fishing,” said Eric Winther, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife project manager. “Northern pikeminnow are a primary fish predator on juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake river systems, and managing these populations is a key element of predator management in the basin.”

The fishery’s regular-season check stations will be open through September 30. After September 30, 13 stations will remain open: Cathlamet, Willow Grove, Ridgefield, Chinook Landing, Washougal, Stevenson, The Dalles, Giles French, Columbia Point, Vernita, Boyer Park and Greenbelt.

For the most up-to-date information on stations and times, visit the Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery website at www.pikeminnow.org.

The reward program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in cooperation with the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife.


We Remember: Roy Maloney Akootchook Nageak, Sr.

Barrow Utilities and Electric Cooperative Board Member Roy M. Nageak, Sr. CCD passed away peacefully on September 16 surrounded by his wife, Flossie, and his children and grandchild. He was 70 years old.

Nageak was born on July 22, 1951, to Rhoda and Vincent Nageak, Sr. at a summer camp at Oliktok Point. The family moved to Barrow, Alaska, when he was five years old.

He began whaling when he was about nine or ten years old under the mentorship of his uncle, Hoover Koonaloak. His father, Vincent, had a whaling crew, but was worried about having to watch over his young son and safety at the ice edge if Nageak started too young. After his father passed away, Nageak started his own Akootchook Crew in the mid-1980s.

Nageak served on the BUECI board since 1985, many of those years as the board’s vice president. He also served on the North Slope Borough School Board for over 20 years and is a former chairman of the Alaska Board of Education. His compassion for his family and his community was unfailing. He will be truly missed.


We Remember: Matt Peery

Matt Peery, web designer and key accounts representative for Benton REA, passed away on September 3. He was 53 years old.

Peery was born in Stayton, Oregon, and lived in the Tri-Cities (Washington) most of his life.

“Matt was an integral part of PowerNET for the last 17 years,” said Jeff Bastow, IT manager. “He provided a friendly attitude and some unique services for PowerNET including web design. He was also always willing to volunteer his skills for any other needs including barbecues at the office. He is sorely missed by all PowerNET employees.”

Throughout his career at Benton REA, Peery earned several certifications including i-Net+, Network+ and passed the A+ Core Hardware and A+ Operating Systems Technologies exams.

“I greatly appreciate the way Matt was dedicated to helping others whenever he was needed during his time at Benton REA,” said Mike Bradshaw, general manager. “He will be missed by us all.”

He is survived by his two children, Victoria and Connor Peery; his wife, Jennifer Schroeder; and many other family members.

A celebration of life open house will be held from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday, September 25, at the Mayfield Gathering Place in West Richland.


We Remember: Fred Guyer

Fred Guyer, former Benton REA trustee, has passed away at the age of 88.

A nuclear engineer and a registered parliamentarian, Guyer joined the Benton REA Board when his father, Bill, retired in 1987 after 25 years of service. He would remain on the board for 27 years, serving in all of its officer positions and as its president from 1993 to 2001.

“I feel genuinely honored to have had the privilege of working with Fred,” said Mike Bradshaw, Benton REA general manger. “He was instrumental with his support to help me improve as a person and as a manager.”

Guyer sat on the boards of the Washington Rural Electric Cooperative Association and NWPPA, and was a member and chair of NRECA’s Standing Committee on Resolutions. He was honored with NWPPA’s Distinguished Service Award, and NRECA presented him with a resolution of appreciation for his work on its resolutions panel.

His professional expertise as a nuclear engineer and his lifelong interest in parliamentary procedure made him an asset to the Benton REA board, according to Chuck Dawsey, former general manager.

“Fred was a true mentor for me, and an advocate for the rural electric cooperative program in our community as well as the nation,” said Dawsey. “I was a new manager when I came to Benton REA, and I remember one time when I made a mistake. Fred chastised me in a way that was probably more meaningful than any direction I’d ever gotten from my own father. He was a great man.”

 


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