Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oregon Energy Department’s Chief Financial Officer Resigns amid Ongoing Problems with Incentive Programs (Oregonian, Portland)

Editorial: Don’t Let Protectionism over Solar Energy Kill Moses Lake Jobs (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

Angler Nears $100K in Six Months of Pikeminnow Rewards (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

Feds to Release Final Bull Trout Recovery Plan for Pacific Northwest States (Associated Press)

Oregon Farmers near Boardman Seek Lawmakers’ Help on Transmission Line (Wallowa County Chieftain, Enterprise, OR)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Drought in 2016 for Washington State? (Cliff Mass Weather Blog)

Investors Are Mining for Water, the Next Hot Commodity (NY Times)

Op/Ed: Governor Jay Inslee – ‘Fear Mongers’ Will Not Stop Us from Setting Carbon Cap (Seattle Times, WA - Paywall Advisory)

Second-Largest Dam in the Nation Becomes More Powerful, Efficient (Bonneville Power Administration)

Indiana Advocates Say Utilities Are Scaling Back Efficiency Efforts (Utility Dive)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Energize Eastside Critics Say Puget Sound Energy Must Follow Federal Rules to Justify New Power Lines (Bellevue Reporter, WA)

Thank Your Public Power Neighbors: Electric Bills to Drop 3.5 Percent for Pacific Power Washington Customers with Regional Power Credit (KNDO/KNDU-TV, Tri Cities, WA)

Northwest Power & Conservation Council Moves Ahead with Plan to Assess Potential Salmon Habitat Blocked by Grand Coulee (Columbia Basin Bulletin)

Earth’s Record Streak of Record Heat Keeps Sizzling (Associated Press)

Concerns over Possible Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button (Reuters)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mason PUD 3 Commission Report – September 8, 2015

Meeting Highlights

  • Public Hearing on Electricity Rates.
  • Public Hearing on 2016 Budget.
  • Manager Authorized to Sign Agreement with City of Shelton on LED Reader Board Signs.
  • Registration in PUD 3’s Shared Solar Program Hits nearly 5,000 Shares; Nearly 2,900 available.

Public Hearing on Electricity Rates

Commissioners conducted a public hearing on local electricity rates because of Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) increased costs for services beginning October 1. BPA will increase its charges by a minimum of 7.1% for wholesale electricity and 4.4% for energy transmission.

In addition, Matt Samuelson, power supply manager, said because of how BPA determines its wholesale power bills, heavily residential utilities will tend to see a greater rate impact than other public power customers. This increases costs for utilities like Mason PUD 3 and PUD 1. BPA customers with large industrial loads do not generally experience as great of an impact.

Samuelson said PUD 3 expects to spend at least $1.9 million in 2016 to meet the requirements of Washington State’s renewable energy law. This includes power purchases and conservation programs. The percentage of qualifying renewable energy as a part of power purchases goes from three percent this year, to nine percent in 2016.

This is the third consecutive and significant hike in BPA’s wholesale rates. The federal power-marketing agency implemented a 9 percent power rate increase in 2013, and a 7.8 percent increase in 2011. BPA has increased its wholesale energy prices 29 percent since 2008.

Sherry Speaks, finance manager, said that in response to the BPA increase it is proposed that local residential rates go to 6.99 cents per kilowatt-hour, and that the system charge be increased by ten cents per day. The increase would be effective October 1.

Speaks also recommended an increase in October 2016: to 7.27 cents per kilowatt-hour and a ten-cent per day addition to the system charge.

Joel Myer, public information and government relations manager, reported that with the proposed increase, PUD 3’s residential per kilowatt hour rates are in the lower quarter of rates compared with surrounding utilities. Many of the utilities receive most or some of their energy from the Bonneville Power Administration.

Diane Hennessey, customer service manager, reported that low-income senior and low-income disabled discounts are available for qualifying customers. Both discounts amount to the removal of the daily system charge.

To qualify for the low-income senior citizen discount a person must be 61 or older; be a permanent, year-round customer of PUD 3; have an annual household income of $35,000 or less; and not live in federally subsidized housing.

For the low-income disabled discount, the PUD account must be in the name of the disabled person. The customer cannot live in federally subsidized housing and must be a permanent, year-round customer of the PUD. Customers may the Community Action Council at (360) 426-9726 to schedule a qualification appointment.

She outlined PUD 3’s Project Share, an assistance program that assists qualifying low-income customers with their electric bills. PUD customers voluntarily donate to the fund. Donations are on track to reach about $55,000 this year.

Public Hearing on Proposed 2016 Budget

Sherry Speaks, finance manager, presented commissioners with a proposed $63.8 million budget for 2016. Speaks said the primary impacts to the budget are higher prices for wholesale electricity supplies and transmission services purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the costs of meeting the Washington State renewable energy law.

The budget is affected by:
  • Wholesale electricity prices will increase October 1 for electricity and transmission services from the Bonneville Power Administration: a minimum of 7.1% for wholesale electricity and 4.4% for transmission services.
  • Because of how BPA determines its wholesale power bills, heavily residential utilities tend to see a greater rate impact than other public power customers. This increases costs for utilities like Mason PUD 3 and PUD 1. BPA customers with large industrial loads do not generally experience as great of an impact.
  • PUD 3 expects to spend at least $1.9 million in 2016 to meet the requirements of Washington State’s renewable energy law. This includes power purchases and conservation programs. The percentage of qualifying renewable energy as a part of power purchases goes from three percent this year, to nine percent in 2016.
  • Maintaining a continued investment in PUD 3’s system reliability projects during a time of fluctuating power sales and energy consumption.
  • Increased costs of material, goods and labor.

Consent Agenda

PUD 3 Commissioners approved payment of $958,019 in vouchers.

Action Items

Commissioners adopted Resolution No. 1648, A Resolution Authorizing Revision 4 to Exhibit F, Real Time Scheduling and TCMS Coverage by Resource to Power Sales Agreement. The agreement clarifies the management and transmission of electricity to PUD 3 from wind energy farms.

Commissioners authorized the manager to sign an interlocal agreement with the city of Shelton for the installation of two LED reader boards as an alternative to over the street banner hanging. PUD 3 will provide the electronics and sign structures. The city will maintain the signs and take care of the programming of messages. The project will replace the banner program, which falls outside the PUD’s authorization.

Staff Reports

Status of the Budget

Sherry Speaks, finance manager, reported on the status of the budget, ending August 31:
  • August expenditures were $4.3 million.
  • Expenditures for the first eight months of the year were $40.1 million, or 63 percent of the adopted 2015 budget.
  • Revenue for August was $4.48 million.
  • Revenue for the first eight months of the year was $40.5 million, which is 64 percent of the adopted 2014 budget.
  • As of the August report, PUD 3 had a budget balance of $374,557.

Treasurer’s Report

Brian Taylor, treasurer, said that PUD 3 ended the month of August with operating reserves of $15.5 million. Total investments were $34.8 million.

Manager’s Report

Annette Creekpaum, PUD 3 manager, reported on the following issues:
  •  Nearly 5,000 PUD 3 customers have registered for a chance to take part in the PUD’s shared solar project. There are 2,893 solar units available, so a random drawing of registered customers will take place September 17, 2015 at 12:00 noon to assign the shares.
  • o    The program will allow customers to purchase shares in a 75-kilowatt solar array constructed by PUD 3.
    o    The solar panels will be placed on one of the shop buildings at the PUD’s Johns Prairie operations center.
    o    Participants will benefit from the Washington State renewable energy incentive and receive a billing credit once per year for the electricity generated by their share of the solar array.
    o    PUD 3 will receive renewable energy credits from the project to count against the requirements of the state’s Energy Independence Act.
    o    Payback on the project is expected within three to four years with the Washington State incentive.
    ·         PUD 3 sent six employees to work with Snohomish PUD crews conducting restoration following an August 29 windstorm that cut power to nearly half that utility’s customers. Through a mutual aid agreement, Snohomish PUD will reimburse Mason PUD 3 for the crew time and equipment expenses.
Next Meeting

The next PUD 3 commission meeting is September 22, 2015 at 10:00 AM in the PUD auditorium at 2621 E Johns Prairie Road, Shelton.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Washington State Crews Working Hard to Restore Power (KING-TV, Seattle, WA)

Community Solar Investors Could Qualify for Federal Tax Credits, IRS Ruling Indicates (Utility Dive)

Salmon Spawns on Obama’s Shoes: ‘He’s Happy to See Me,’ President Laughs (Associated Press)

Olympic Peninsula Tribe Acquires Mobilisa to Bring Internet Access to Rural Areas “…buys broadband capacity from a Tacoma nonprofit called NoaNet…” (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Good weather coming for Labor Day weekend (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chehalis Panhandling Ordinance Takes Effect Wednesday (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(CHEHALIS, WA) -- A new ordinance that bans coercive panhandling in the city of Chehalis goes into effect today. Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaeffer says the ordinance does not ban all panhandling but it does prohibit aggressive panhandling. It bans panhandling at all three I-5 on and off-ramps, on Louisiana Avenue between K-Mart and I-5 Toyota and all existing and future businesses on Arkansas Way. It also prohibits such activities within 25 feet of the entrance of a building without the owner’s permission and within 25 feet of a parked vehicle while it is being loaded or unloaded.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lewis County Authorities Seek Information on Trees Intentionally Cut to Fall on Power Lines (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(CHEHALIS, WA) -- The Lewis County Sheriff's Office is investigating two incidents of malicious mischief where a suspect or suspects apparently deliberately cut down a tree so that it would fall into power lines about 1:30 AM Sunday morning.  The Sheriff’s Office says one incident happened at milepost 7 on Bunker Creek Road and the other in the 400 block of Manners Road.  In both instances, there was fresh sawdust and chain saw cuts at the base of the trees.  In the incident on Manners Road, the power line caught on fire.  Anyone with information about either incident is asked to call Lewis County Crimestoppers.