Monday, October 12, 2015

Former Hurricane Oho Reached the Northwest, But Not as a Hurricane (KIRO Broadcasting, Seattle, WA)

Columbus Day Storm: Granddaddy of All Pacific Northwest Windstorms Was ‘Extraordinary’ (KIRO Broadcasting, Seattle, WA)

Facebook & Prineville: What the Social Network Gets & What It Gives (Oregonian, Portland)

California Sea Lions This Year Take Big Chunk Out of Willamette River Spring Chinook Run (Columbia Basin Bulletin)

Editorial: California Has Unspent Billions from Carbon Auctions (Sacramento Bee, CA)

Three Grant PUD employees remain at Harborview Medical Center (Grant PUD, Ephrata, WA)

(EPHRATA, WA) -- Three employees remain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle following last week’s accident at Grant PUD’s Priest Rapids Dam which hospitalized six power-plant electricians and operators.
Over the past weekend, two employees were discharged, one remains in satisfactory condition, one remains in critical condition, and one has improved to serious condition.
“I can think of nothing worse than one of our employees not returning home to see their family at the end of a workday. We continue to rally around these employees and their families to provide whatever support we can,” said Grant PUD General Manager Tony Webb.
A support fund has been established at Granco Federal Credit Union in Ephrata, Washington for the injured employees and their families. Those interested in making a contribution can do so by sending a donation to Granco Credit Union at: PO Box 127 Ephrata, WA 98823 or in person at their Ephrata location: 217 Alder St. SW Ephrata WA 98823. All donations should be earmarked “Priest Rapids Family Fund.”
Inspectors from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries were on site last week to begin what will likely be weeks of investigation into the cause of an electrical equipment failure in the Priest Rapids Dam power plant. The equipment failure was isolated to one of ten generating units at the dam. The main circuit breaker, which acts as an on-off switch for the generating unit, malfunctioned, causing the employees to be injured. The generating unit will not operate again until the investigation is finished.
The dam is stable and remains in operating condition. There are no associated public safety issues or downstream flooding impacts. The results of the investigation will be provided to commissioners upon completion.
Additional informational updates related to this incident will be provided during Grant PUD public meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Uses Mule Train to Move New Hydro Equipment (Northwest Public Power Association)

(SACRAMENTO, CA) --  Engineers and contractors with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District loaded a helicopter and 20 pack mules with three tons of construction equipment, tools, and camping supplies for a journey through the Desolation Wilderness to replace a valve at Rubicon Dam and replace a weir at Buck Island Reservoir. The reservoirs are located in the remotest regions of SMUD’s 688-megawatt Upper American River Project hydroelectric system.

Since there are no roads to get there, transportation is limited to hikers and pack animals, which is challenging when the load includes a 2,300-pound valve, two generators that weigh almost that much, two sections of pipe weighing 900 pounds each, and assorted heavy tools and equipment.

The valve on Rubicon Dam was replaced because a new operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires SMUD to release higher water volumes than the old valve could handle. The weir at Buck Island measures and verifies the flow rate of water released from the reservoir and was about 50 years old. Two separate groups of employees and contractors worked 12-hour days for the 10-day construction project.

The U.S. Forest Service limits mechanized equipment in the wilderness to the extent possible to maintain its tranquility. The Forest Service allows SMUD a minimal number of helicopter flights across the wilderness boundary for regular maintenance activities at the facility. Sometimes additional flights are needed for special projects. For the valve-replacement project, SMUD and the Forest Service agreed to allow hauling of some heavy or awkward items by helicopter while transporting the bulk of food and equipment using a team of 20 pack mules and four mule handlers.

The mules are owned and handled by a contractor. Their journey began at a base camp at the Loon Lake equestrian campground. From there, the mule team traveled unloaded for the first five miles on the Rubicon Trail. SMUD transported all the equipment and supplies by helicopter from Loon Lake to the border of Desolation Wilderness. At the border, the mules were loaded up for the final 1.6 miles to Rubicon Dam. A team of five mules and one or two handlers made supply runs to the Rubicon camp to deliver ice and food and to haul away trash.

As the projects were so remote and without quick access to emergency medical services, SMUD provided CPR and first-aid training, and both groups were equipped with well-stocked first-aid and trauma kits, including oxygen tanks. Because there is no cell phone reception in the backcountry, the groups kept in touch with two-way radios and satellite phones.

Following installation of the new valve, the mules hauled back all the equipment and waste to the wilderness border. SMUD left the area the way it was found, respecting the leave-no-trace philosophy that is typical of all SMUD projects.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Court Reverses State Decision about Yelm Water Rights (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(OLYMPIA, WA) -- The Washington Supreme Court has reversed a decision by the state to grant new water rights to the city of Yelm to serve its growing population. The court on Thursday ruled 6-3 that the Department of Ecology exceeded its authority in approving Yelm's water rights under a narrow exception in cases where water is limited. In the majority opinion, Justice Charles Johnson wrote that municipal water needs do not rise to the level of overriding public interest. DOE says the permit would have provided about 841,000 gallons of water a day, or enough water to serve 1,682 homes. It's not clear how the decision will affect the Thurston County city of about 7,500 people.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BPA Makes 32nd Consecutive Annual U-S Treasury Payment on Time & In Full (Bonneville Power Administration)

(PORTLAND, OR) -- The Bonneville Power Administration today announced that it completed its 32nd consecutive annual payment to the U.S. Treasury on time and in full.

The total payment was $891 million for fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30.

“Our enduring focus on sound financial management has enabled us to fulfill our commitment to make our Treasury payment for over three decades,” said Nancy Mitman, BPA’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. “This year’s payment reaffirms our diligence on cost discipline and risk management.”

BPA’s cumulative payments to the U.S. Treasury during those 32 years amount to more than $25.7 billion.

This year’s payment includes: $449 million in principal; $350 million in interest; $52 million in irrigation assistance payments and $40 million in other payments. Of the $891 million total payment, $118 million was paid by applying Treasury credits for nonpower-related fish mitigation efforts and other credits, including interest earnings. The $449 million in principal includes $229 million in early retirement of higher interest rate U.S. Treasury debt. This was made possible by a regional cooperation debt transaction this year through which Energy Northwest issued BPA-supported bonds to refinance debt. That action made available BPA resources that are now being used for the additional payment to the U.S. Treasury.

Completing the Treasury payment is the last financial transaction BPA makes each fiscal year, and the majority of the payment occurs after all other obligations have been met.

BPA establishes rates around a high probability of this repayment, at least a 95 percent certainty of making its annual scheduled Treasury payments over two consecutive years, to assure full and timely payment for the benefit of American taxpayers. This equates to a 97.5 percent certainty of making annual scheduled payments in a single year of the rate period.

In addition to the U.S. Treasury payment, BPA paid operations and maintenance expenses for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife service projects directly funded by BPA. This direct funding amounted to $388 million in fiscal year 2015.

BPA is a self-financed power marketing administration that receives no annual appropriations from the U.S. Congress. Instead, BPA primarily recovers its costs through revenues from the sale of electric power and transmission services.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Portland General Electric Power Plant Rising on Eastern Oregon Countryside (Associated Press)

Oregon: Environmental Group Files Ballot Measures for Coal-Free Power by 2030 (Oregonian, Portland)

Groups Form Alliance to Tackle Climate Change by Washington State Initiative (KIRO Broadcasting, Seattle, WA)

Google Fiber at Last? Portland Begins Fielding Applications for 'Fiber Huts' (Oregonian, Portland)

Fatal Fire in Shelton (Mason Web TV, Shelton, WA)

Bonneville Power Administration Opens New Visitor Center (Bonneville Power Administration)

BPA hosts grand opening and open house, Oct. 7

(PORTLAND, OR) -- The Bonneville Power Administration is opening a new visitor center at its headquarters in Portland, Ore. The center, housed in the BPA Library, offers a fun, informative and interactive experience for visitors of all ages interested in learning more about BPA’s history and the electrification of the Northwest.

“This new visitor center captures our rich history that has benefited the Northwest and the nation,” said BPA Administrator and CEO Elliot Mainzer. “We invite folks to come and explore the development of clean, low-cost federal hydroelectric power in the Northwest and the many benefits the federal power system provides the region today and for generations to come.”

The new center features hundreds of historic photographs, dozens of films and interactive maps and games. “The center is a fun way for the public, especially young people, to explore the history of electric power in the Northwest,” said BPA librarian Kaye Silver.

BPA is hosting a grand opening, Oct. 7 from noon to 3 p.m. The event includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a special presentation about Stephen Kahn, BPA’s first information officer, and a reception followed by an open house. Stephen Kahn’s daughter, Karen, is a special guest. Click here to view the invitation.

The BPA Library and Visitor Center is open to the public. It’s located inside BPA’s headquarters building at 905 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97232. *Please note that the BPA Visitor Center is separate from the Bonneville Lock and Dam Visitor Center. All visitors to BPA must present a valid driver’s license or government issued identification. Please allow extra time for airport-like security screening upon entry.

In addition to the new center, the BPA Library and Visitor Center offers other resources to the public. You can check out materials from BPA’s collection through interlibrary loan from your local library or set up a BPA Library account. As a federal depository, the BPA Library collects books, reports and microforms issued by government agencies and library staff can help with research of BPA’s document archives, many of which have BPA’s new visitor center features hundreds of historic photographs, dozens of films and interactive maps and games. been digitized. To contact the BPA Library and Visitor Center, call 503-230-INFO (4636) or email

BPA Library History

The BPA Library was established in 1939, two years after the creation of BPA. It was originally part of the marketing division under BPA’s Project and Contract Department, but moved to BPA’s Information Division by the end of its first year. In its early days, it handled research, cataloging, indexing and circulation, and also prepared bibliographies, digests and summaries on technical topics. When it opened, it was located in the Holladay building beside BPA’s original headquarters in the Lloyd District. In 1983, it moved to a building near Benson Polytechnic High School. And then in 1989, it moved to BPA’s new headquarters building on 11th Avenue where it has been on the first floor ever since.

PenLight to Launch Harbor Community Solar Project (Northwest Public Power Association)

(GIG HARBOR, WA) -- Peninsula Light Co. has partnered with the Harbor History Museum and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to launch a community solar project that will be open to PenLight members this fall.

The Harbor Community Solar project, a 60-kilowatt system, will be constructed on the roof of the Harbor History Museum. When it’s operational, the system will generate power for the museum, and program participants will be eligible for annual state incentive payments through July 2020. PenLight has selected A&R Solar of Seattle through a competitive-bid process to install the system.

Here’s how members can sign up to participate:

All registrations will be submitted at
  • Purchase solar unit(s): $100 each
  • Total units available: 1,850
  • Maximum per member: 100 units
  • Annual state incentive*: About $33/unit
  • Deadline to sign up: November 6, 2015
  • Lottery to select participants: November 13, 2015
  • Full payment due: December 14, 2015
  • Annual rebates end: July 2020

*The annual incentive is based on the total solar production from year to year.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tacoma Power to Build Community Solar Project, Invites Customers to Invest (Tacoma Power, WA)

(TACOMA, WA) -- Tacoma Power will build Pierce County’s first community solar project early next year. Electric customers who want to invest in solar energy can register now at to buy solar units when they go on sale in early 2016.

Community solar, a more affordable way to invest in solar energy, does not require home ownership, a load-bearing roof or the high cost of installing solar panels.

Tacoma Power will build the 75-kilowatt project, and customers will fully fund it. Customers who buy solar units for $100 each will receive an annual Washington state solar production incentive payment, as well as payment for the electricity produced from the project. The expected payback period is about four years.

The state’s solar energy incentive ends in 2020, so building the project now will help customers take advantage of the incentive.

The community solar project adds to Tacoma Power’s already-extensive list of renewable energy; all of the power the utility produces is renewable hydropower. Nearly all of the power purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration is renewable as well.

The project will feature solar panels and inverters manufactured in Washington state.