Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
Bonneville Power Administration Rate Increase Effect Varies among Olympic Peninsula Electric Utilities (Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles, WA)
Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Mason County PUD 1 Director of Electric Operations Announces Retirement (Mason County PUD No. 1, Potlatch, WA)
(POTLATCH, WA) -- After serving 10 years with Mason County PUD No. 1, and an impressive career in the utility industry spanning over 40 years, PUD 1 director of electric operations Tracy Colard has announced his impending retirement. Colard’s career began at Grays Harbor PUD where he worked for 27 years in several different capacities from lineman to superintendent. He came to PUD 1 from the City of Ellensburg where he served as the electrical supervisor, and oversaw several other departments for the municipality. In addition to his utility experience, he also worked for the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local Union No. 77, as a union representative and as a lobbyist, working capital hills in both Washington State and Washington, D.C.
Since joining Mason PUD 1 in 2003, Colard has been credited with updating and modernizing the utility’s operational processes and developing comprehensive work plans to replace aging infrastructure. He initially oversaw both the water and electric operations for nearly seven years before the departments were divided. “Tracy has been an intricate and invaluable part of PUD 1’s progress over the last decade” stated general manager Steven Taylor. “He came to our utility with a wealth of experience in multiple areas of utility service, union and labor relations, and a vast knowledge of electrical systems. Without him, we would not be where we are today in regard to substation replacement and infrastructure developments.”
Colard has directly overseen the construction of the new t3ba’das Substation (pronounced Tah-bah-das) located above the Skokomish Indian Nation’s t3ba’das Tribal Housing Project just off of Highway 101 in Potlatch. This substation will replace the soon to be decommissioned Skokomish Valley substation later this year. He also has helped develop plans for two new future substation sites to help replace the aging electric system, some of which is over 40 years old. “We really appreciate his service with PUD 1 and wish him a long and happy retirement. He will be sorely missed but we are all confident that we have found a strong successor to follow in his footsteps”, stated Taylor.
PUD 1 lineman Darin Hall has accepted the position of electric superintendent and will begin transitioning into his new role starting August 1st. Colard’s last day as operations director will be October 11, 2013.
BPA Adopts New Wholesale Power & Transmission Rates - Increases Needed To Sustain System Value (Bonneville Power Administration)
(PORTLAND, OR) The Bonneville Power Administration today adopted a 9 percent average wholesale power rate increase and an 11 percent average transmission rate increase. The transmission rate increase is the first in six years. The new rates support needed improvements to ensure the region’s federal hydropower and transmission systems can continue to reliably deliver carbon-free, affordable power to Northwest homes and businesses. The new rates take effect Oct. 1, 2013.
“We recognize that rate increases are very challenging for customers, especially for those still in the throes of a slow economy,” said BPA Acting Administrator Elliot Mainzer. “But the increases are necessary so that we can preserve the long-term value of carbon-free federal generation and support the reliability of the high-voltage transmission lines that serve Northwest public utilities.”
For Bonneville’s utility power customers, the wholesale rate increase will be an average of 9 percent higher than current rates. The power rate increase stems from higher costs to operate and maintain the federal hydroelectric system, higher costs to fund existing long-term agreements for the fish and wildlife mitigation program and reduced revenues from surplus power sales due to low market prices.
For transmission customers, the first rate increase in six years averages 11 percent higher than current rates. The transmission rate increase stems from a growing construction program driven by the need to repair and replace aging infrastructure and increase spending on mandatory compliance and security requirements. An average of $20 million per year in financial reserves will be used to offset part of the rate increase.
Wholesale power and transmission rates are developed every two years through a formal rate-setting process with BPA’s utility customers and other stakeholders. The process began in November when BPA announced its rate proposals for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
The new rates will affect utilities differently depending on the amount of power and type of services they purchase from BPA. Local utilities ultimately determine the rate impact of BPA rates on individual businesses and residents.
The final rate proposal will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of July to provide the required 60 days for review and approval.
Find more information on the rate case process here: www.bpa.gov/goto/ratecase.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Sacramento Municipal Utility District Helps Schools Help Students Learn the Business of Energy Efficiency (Northwest Public Power Association)
(SACRAMENTO, CA) -- The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (Calif.) is training the next generation of the energy industry’s workforce. SMUD’s new High School Energy Efficiency and Auditing Training (HSEE) project provides junior and senior high school students with the skills and experience to begin energy efficiency-related and energy auditing careers. The program also provides opportunities for participating students to help their own school districts save money through energy efficiency.
Here’s how it works: Students have been selected from several school districts across the region and brought together in one class to learn about the green energy industry, energy efficiency, electrical load auditing, and to develop workforce skills. The weeklong course includes theoretical classroom lessons and practical field work. Students will use their new skills to audit a building in their own school district, then prepare a report and present their findings to their peers, administrators and other local officials. Students earn a stipend for participating.
It’s a win-win for the students and their schools. SMUD provides funding to develop and carry out the curriculum and to support the school districts in completing student recommended energy efficiency measures. By combining HSEE with established SMUD rebate programs, it may be possible for a school district to receive a total of 80 percent to 100 percent rebates on upgrade costs, depending on the energy efficiency measures selected by the schools.
This project was funded by carbon sales under the AB32 cap and trade bill. Participating school districts are Center Unified, Natomas Unified, Elk Grove Unified, Sacramento City Unified, Twin Rivers Unified, Folsom Cordova Unified and San Juan Unified.
Ray of Hope for Smaller Utilities Seeking to Lighten Regulatory Load: FERC Rejects Registration of Southern Louisiana Co-op (GTH Energy & Natural Resources Law Blog)
Friday, July 19, 2013
FERC Ruling on South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association Deregistration from Bulk Power System Regulations (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - Links to site to view ruling)
Thursday, July 18, 2013
(CENTRALIA, WA) -- People who drive a Tesla Model S electrical car will be able to ‘fuel up’ in Centralia. The company is opening ten charging stalls today near the Centralia Factory Outlets. A second facility is also opening in Burlington. The company says the charging stations are designed to allow for free long distance travel between city centers. The cars charge in about 20 minutes. This charging station is open just for Tesla owners. There’s a public charging station just across I-5 off Harrison Avenue. There are also two more at Providence-Centralia Hospital.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
July 17, 2013 - Bonneville Power Administration Reading Room - A Compendium of the Current Kerfuffle
DOE Says Bonneville Power Administration Violated Hiring Practices, Retaliated Against Whistleblowers (Oregonian, Portland)
Bonneville Power Administration Shakeup in Wake of Alleged Hiring Misdeeds (Northwest Public Radio)
Major Scandal Rocks Portland-Based Federal Power Agency (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
Bonneville Power Administrator Replaced Amid Hiring Probe (Tri-City Herald, WA)
Bonneville Power Administration Head Replaced - Announcement Follows Report on Veteran Hiring (Associated Press)
Energy Department Ousts Two Top Officials of Bonneville Power Authority (sic) (Washington Post)
BPA Administrator Suspended, Stunning Power Industry (GTH Energy & Natural Resources Law Blog)
Management Alert: DOE/IG-0891 - Allegations Regarding Prohibited Personnel Practices at the Bonneville Power Administration (U-S Department of Energy, Washington, DC)
Congressman Issa Probes Energy Dept. Power Agency Hiring, Alleged Retaliation (The Hill)
U-S Senator Wyden Statement on Bonneville Power Administration Inspector General Report (U-S Senate Energy Committee)
U-S Senator Murray's Statement on Bonneville Power Administration Inspector General Report (Senator Patty Murray)
Columnist - The Long Arm of Bonneville Gets Slapped (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Associated Press Story, updated with more reaction, background
Monday, July 15, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
by Peter M. Sandman
A sidebar article in Engineering News-Record, October 4, 1999, pp. A19–A23
The guidelines for mitigating and preventing outrage are deceptively obvious. Five key ones:
- Stake out the middle, not the extreme. In a fight between “terribly dangerous” and “perfectly safe,” the winner will be “terribly dangerous.” But “modestly dangerous” is a contender. If you deserve a B-, activists can get away with giving you an F instead, but you won’t be able to get away with giving yourself an A.
- Acknowledge prior misbehavior. The prerogative of deciding when you can put your mistakes behind you belongs to your stakeholders, not to you. The more often and apologetically you acknowledge the sins of the past, the more quickly others decide it’s time to move on.
- Acknowledge current problems. Omissions, distortions, and “spin control” damage credibility nearly as much as outright lies. The only way to build credibility is to acknowledge problems – before you solve them, before you know if you will be able to solve them – going beyond mere honesty to “transparency.”
- Discuss achievements with humility. Odds are you resisted change until regulators or activists forced your hand. Now have the grace to say so. Attributing your good behavior to your own natural goodness triggers skepticism. Attributing it to pressure greatly increases the likelihood that we’ll believe you actually did it.
- Share control and be accountable. The higher the outrage, the less willing people are to leave the control in your hands. Look for ways to put the control elsewhere (or to show that it is already elsewhere). Let others – regulators, neighbors, activists – keep you honest and certify your good performance.
Draft Report from Federal Agencies Shows Gains for Columbia River Basin Fish (Bonneville Power Administration)
(PORTLAND, OR) -- Federal agencies and their partners outlined today five years of accomplishments in improvements to hydrosystem operations and facilities, habitat rehabilitation and hatchery reforms to protect and benefit Columbia and Snake River fish.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration – collectively known as the Federal Action Agencies – have released the 2013 draft Comprehensive Evaluation that assesses biological results under the first five years of the 2008/2010 Biological Opinion developed by NOAA Fisheries. Work under this BiOp is the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken in the Columbia River Basin.
The draft report, which is open to a 30-day public comment period, shows wild, or natural origin, salmon and steelhead returned to the Columbia and Snake rivers and tributaries and spawned in greater numbers since the first Endangered Species Act listings.
“The draft Comprehensive Evaluation shows the strides we’ve made to bring more fish back to the river,” said Lorri Bodi, vice president for BPA’s Environment, Fish and Wildlife.
Halfway through the 10-year term of the BiOp, the Action Agencies and their partners have already met or exceeded the tributary habitat goals for more than half the salmon and steelhead populations. These fish have quickly returned to re-opened habitat, spawning in greater numbers in restored reaches and increasing in abundance.
Performance testing of juvenile fish passage at the mainstem dams along the lower Columbia and Snake rivers indicate that all projects are on track to meet the BiOp performance standards of 96 percent survival for spring migrating fish and 93 percent survival for summer migrants. Part of this success is due to more efficient spill enabled by surface passages systems, such as spillway weirs, that allow fish to move past the dams near the water’s surface where they naturally migrate.
“We are moving forward under the biological opinion,” said Rock Peters, senior fishery program manager for the Corps of Engineers. “This draft Comprehensive Evaluation offers a great opportunity to update the region on our progress.”
The draft Comprehensive Evaluation also shows the extensive coordination of efforts among federal, state and local agencies and non-government organizations to achieve gains for fish.
“The success of this program is built on unprecedented partnerships and collaboration with tribes, states, landowners, irrigators and watershed councils throughout the region,” said Lorri Lee, Regional Director for Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region. “Together, we have forged a strong commitment to increase the survival of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.”
Some of the highlights from the report include the following:
- Most ESA-listed fish populations that spawn in the basin have increased in abundance since their listing in the 1990s. An important measure of progress is the increase in wild salmon and steelhead returning to their spawning grounds.
- Some 177,227 acre-feet of water have been secured by the Action Agencies for instream uses, increasing flow to important salmon habitat. That’s more than enough water to serve a city the size of Seattle.
- Projects geared toward fish access have opened 2,053 miles of spawning and rearing habitat to salmon – nearly twice the length of the Columbia River.
- Action Agencies have protected and restored 3,791 acres of estuary habitat. Fish can spend months feeding in the estuary, where they grow quickly, better positioning them to for survival in the ocean.
- Surface passage systems are now operational at all federal dams on the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers, allowing fish to pass dams more quickly. Combined with refined spill operations, these systems provide some of the highest survival rates of all passage routes.
- A spill wall at The Dalles Dam significantly boosted survival rates in the tailrace by guiding fish into the main river channel, away from predators. Tests following the completion of the spill wall showed increased numbers of yearling and subyearling chinook passing the dam safely.
Copies of the draft Comprehensive Evaluation are available at www.salmonrecovery.gov. The document will be open for public comment from July 15 to August 16. Public comments can be submitted online at www.bpa.gov/comment or by mailing comments to: BPA Public Involvement, P.O. Box 14428, Portland, OR 97293.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Friday, July 5, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
(NEWPORT, OR) -- Paul Davies has retired from the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, headquartered in Newport, Oregon, after thirty years of service, spending fourteen of them as General Manager. Central Lincoln is Oregon’s second-largest public utility, covering more than 700 square miles, and serving more than 38,500 customers.
During Davies’ tenure, Central Lincoln advanced cutting-edge technologies to improve customer service, and he continued strengthening the utility’s already-sound financial position.
Looking back, Davies said being G.M. has been tough at times, and fun at times, but his favorite part has been "working with all the people here at Central Lincoln who truly strive to provide excellent customer service, from outages to our front desks," he said.
"I've always thought of myself as a 'maintenance guy' — that was my first job at twelve to help pay for my parochial school tuition as my mom was widowed and couldn't afford it. Being a maintenance guy was important then, and is today: Operating things well, maintaining them well, doing things cost effectively for our customers.”
Davies plans to spend his retirement volunteering, continuing to serve on the board of a food pantry, and as a math tutor at Oregon Coast Community College.
(PE ELL, WA) -- Just ahead of barbeques, gatherings and Pe Ell’s annual 4th of July celebration, state health leaders are concerned about Pe Ell’s water. Routine testing found the town’s drinking water has two forms of bacteria including worrisome E. coli. That’s of greater concern for the very young, the elderly and those with weak immune systems. That’s why officials are encouraging people to boil their drinking water in Pe Ell. The advisory even extends to something as simple as brushing your teeth. Boiling water is also important for making ice. Mayor Spencer Nichols says annual July 4 celebration will go on as planned, and health department leaders are working to make sure food and beverages are safe. Pe Ell residents who have questions can call 360.291.3543. The boil water advisory will continue until further testing shows the water is OK.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013
Energy Northwest is teaming with NuScale Power and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to study the demonstration of a commercial, small modular reactor project, potentially in southeastern Idaho, by 2024. If NuScale receives federal development funding, Energy Northwest will have first right of offer to operate such a project, and by doing so will become one of the industry experts for small modular reactor operation.
NuScale’s recent funding application to the Energy Department responds to a federal initiative designed to speed the nation’s transition to sustainable, clean sources of energy by bringing small modular reactors to market in the United States.
“SMR technology will provide reliable, affordable and carbon-free energy within the next 10-15 years,” said Dale Atkinson, vice president of Employee Development and Corporate Services. “Such a project would provide us with the opportunity to assess the potential future contributions of this technology to the Washington State energy mix, including helping to integrate renewable resources.”
“Our primary focus remains fixed on Columbia Generating Station and cost-effective energy generation for Northwest ratepayers,” said Energy Northwest CEO Mark Reddemann. “But we also have the responsibility to meet both the current and future needs of our member public power utilities, and many of them have expressed a keen interest in the benefits of this technology.”
Reddemann said the project could act as a catalyst for development of additional SMR projects with NuScale and others.
“Building one somewhere in the Northwest today may lead to building elsewhere tomorrow,” said Reddemann, “including right here in the Tri-Cities.”
NuScale and partners are exploring a six- to 12-module facility to be located at a site like the Idaho National Laboratory. Designed to generate between 270 and 540 megawatts of electricity, the project would also serve to prove the feasibility of future SMR development.
“If NuScale secures DOE funding, this effort will be an important step toward bringing new nuclear to Washington State when we need it,” said Reddemann. “When that day comes, we’ll have the right people with the right expertise in the right place to make it happen.”
Energy Northwest originally sought, with strong support from the Tri-City Development Council and other local leaders, placement of a NuScale SMR at the Industrial Development Complex near Columbia Generating Station.
NuScale, however, has initially identified the Idaho National Laboratory’s 890-square-mile site, 45 miles west of Idaho Falls, as their preferred start-up location. In addition to the laboratory’s experience in reactor research, testing and demonstration during the past 60 years, energy forecasters anticipate an earlier demand for new baseload power in Idaho than in Washington.
“We believe a site like INL offers our best, most feasible first step for securing DOE funding and eventually bringing this technology to other Western states,” said NuScale CEO John L. Hopkins.
Last week, Reddemann asked DOE to strongly consider NuScale’s application for matching development funds under the federal Funding Opportunity Announcement program. He also affirmed Energy Northwest’s support for bringing SMR technology to the Northwest.
“In an era in the Northwest with slow growing electricity demand, small modular reactor technology offers utilities and consumers the opportunity to invest incrementally, on an as-needed basis, in clean, cost-effective power,” Reddemann wrote in a letter to Dr. Peter Lyons, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.
"This project proposal represents the future of clean energy and high-tech jobs throughout the West and the Nation,” said Mike McGough, NuScale's Chief Commercial Officer. “We have been testing our design on a one-third scale prototype since 2003 and are well on our way to submitting a request for NRC design certification.
Energy Northwest’s road from SMR interest to active involvement in an SMR proposal began in 2009.
Acting on member interest, the agency formed a regional group comprised of 10 public and investor-owned utilities to study various design options. After a rigorous two-year analysis, the group concluded that NuScale’s light-water reactor offered the most feasible design for Northwest baseload generation needs.
In March 2012, the Energy Department announced that it would fund half the cost – up to $450 million – to design and license one or two SMR projects for the U.S. commercial market. The following month, in his first letter to Lyons, Reddemann encouraged DOE to award funding to NuScale and advocated placement of an SMR project “at an existing Energy Northwest site.”
The Energy Department, however, awarded first-round funding of approximately $150 million to a Babcock & Wilcox subsidiary to build the first commercial small light-water reactor system in Tennessee.
This past March the Energy Department announced an anticipated second round of funding competition for one or two awards ranging from $150 million to $226 million each.
“I think we came into this second round with a better understanding of the importance DOE is placing on the technological demonstration advantages associated with strong partnerships and innovative approaches to reactor safety” said Hopkins.
“NuScale is well positioned to win funding,” said Hopkins. “In addition to a well-defined project proposal, DOE’s funding criteria explicitly and implicitly encourages associated utility partners. Energy Northwest and UAMPS provide that essential team element.”