Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bonneville Power Administration Senior Vice President Mark Gendron to Retire (Bonneville Power Administration)

(PORTLAND, OR) – Senior Vice President of Power Services Mark Gendron announced that he will retire from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in March 2017.

Gendron is responsible for BPA’s power scheduling functions, generation asset management, power contracts and rates, power purchases and acquisitions, energy efficiency and the business relationships with BPA’s retail utility customers. Power Services produces revenues of nearly $3 billion per year from the sale of about 11,000 average megawatts of power.

“Mark has been an incredibly valuable member of the BPA executive team, blessed with an acute sensitivity to the needs of our customers and a personal style and grace that has touched all who have worked with him,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA administrator and chief executive officer. “I will miss his even keel and wise counsel and wish him and his wife Loraine many happy years of retirement.”

Prior to serving in his current role, Gendron was vice president of Northwest Requirements Marketing, responsible for marketing and contracting the sale of requirements power to BPA customers.

Gendron has also served on committees and boards for a variety of public power organizations over the years including the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association, Idaho Energy Authority and Public Power Council.

“As a leader coming from public power, Mark brought important insight and talent to BPA that will be difficult to replace,” said Scott Corwin, executive director of PPC. “He has taken on some of the agency’s biggest challenges, but has remained a good friend and a highly respected colleague who will be missed throughout the industry when he retires.”

Gendron came to BPA from Idaho Falls Power where he was the general manager for 10 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado and began his career as a design engineer. He worked for various utility and engineering companies in the West before joining Idaho Falls Power in 1985 as chief engineer.

“I have been fortunate and blessed to have capped off my career at the Bonneville Power Administration, where I have had the privilege every day of working with great people committed to delivering on our mission that is so important to the people of the Northwest,” said Gendron.

The lead time on Gendron’s announcement will allow the agency to conduct the federal selection process and provide a brief overlap period before his departure. BPA will soon post a vacancy announcement for the next senior vice president of Power Services, a Senior Executive Service position.

Is Snow in Seattle’s Forecast? (KIRO Broadcasting, Seattle, WA)

Avista Looks to Cover Windstorm Costs with Higher Rates in 2017 (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

Washington Wheat Growers Oppose Breaching Snake Dams (Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake, WA)

Wind Advocates Challenge Energy Transmission Fee on Montana Green Energy (Billings Gazette, MT)

Op/Ed: Time for Washington State to Lead on Climate Change (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Monday, November 28, 2016

In New Case, World Trade Organization Rules Against Washington State’s Tax Breaks for Boeing 777X Plants (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Lines – Agency Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement Ahead of Final Decision (Argus Observer, Ontario, OR)

Washington State: Where Marijuana Plants Flourish Under Energy-Saving LED Lights (NY Times)

Oregon Solar Industry Calls Residential Energy Tax Credit Extension Top 2017 Priority (Portland Business Journal, OR)

California Today: Fretting Over the ‘Netflix Tax’ (NY Times)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bonneville Power Administration Expecting Big Turkey Bulge in Electricity Use on Thanksgiving (Bonneville Power Administration)

(PORTLAND, OR) – Bonneville Power Administration operators are prepared for the energy anomaly that they see every Thanksgiving Day. They have planned for an unusual bulge, or peak, in the morning as millions of people across the Pacific Northwest gather to cook meals, which rely heavily on the use of ovens and other appliances. After the big meal, system operators will be on hand to ramp power down during the tryptophan drop off.

“Most of the year, electricity usage follows typical seasonal patterns but severe weather and special events can always present different, even dramatically different, realities,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA’s administrator and chief executive officer. 

On a typical November weekday, BPA’s regional load sees two peaks – one in the morning and one in the evening. But on Thanksgiving we see a different pattern emerge. Unlike a typical morning where the most electricity usage peaks around 7 or 8 a.m., Thanksgiving ramps up at 9 a.m. as people cook their turkeys and pies. Power consumption on Thanksgiving then tends to stay up higher throughout the morning compared to a normal day when loads drop off in the middle of the day. When Thanksgiving loads start to wane, they stay low for the rest of the day, as cooking is done and the tryptophan sets in, rather than increasing again to an evening peak as they would on normal weekdays.

BPA and other utilities around the Northwest keep watch on the electricity consumption of the region’s consumers day and night, 365 days a year. They ensure that there is enough output from power plants, which BPA provides mainly from renewable hydropower, and transmission available to keep the lights on. BPA’s power and transmission system experts carefully watch weather and special events that can impact electricity usage and line crews are available around the clock in case any of the over 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission lines go down.

“This is a time of year we are even more thankful for the many men and women across the Northwest, at utilities big and small, who work diligently to keep power flowing so the rest of us can enjoy our holiday traditions,” said Mainzer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heavy Mountain Snows Ahead (Cliff Mass Weather Blog)

People Passionate About Saving Snake River Dams (Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA)

People Passionate About Saving Snake River Dams (Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA)

Mason PUD 3 – Financial Management, Load Growth to Keep Local Electricity Prices Stable into 2017 (Mason PUD 3, Shelton, WA)

Washington State Carbon Capture Project Says It Has Permanently Sequestered Carbon Dioxide (Utility Dive)

Several Cities Convert to LED Street Lights in Conservation Efforts (National Public Radio)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Federal Agencies Listen to Concerns & Suggestions on Lower Snake River Dams (KLEW-TV, Lewiston, ID)

NW Power & Conservation Council Hears Report On Best Ways to Pass Salmonids Above High Head Dams Such as Grand Coulee (Columbia Basin Bulletin)

Facebook Is America’s Favorite Media Product – It’s equivalent to 1.5 Super Bowls happening every day, audience-wise (Atlantic Magazine)

Move Over, Booze: 2016 Is a Milestone Year for Sales of Pot in State (News Tribune, Tacoma, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Washington State Budget Outlook Estimates $5 Billion on Education Through 2021 (Associated Press)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Big Crowd Turns Out in Spokane to Talk About Lower Snake River Dams (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

Conservation Groups Ask for Changes to Snake River Dams Hearings (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Congressman Newhouse Pushes for Law Protecting Snake River Dams (Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA)

Utah Solar Installer Legend Sees Portland as Ripe Opportunity – Despite The Trees (Portland Business Journal, OR)

Puget Sound Energy Closing in on Tideflats Liquefied Natural Gas Plant Construction Start (News Tribune, Tacoma, WA – Paywall Advisory)

NRC Commissioner in Running for Energy Secretary (Politico, Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Kristine Svinicki, the sole Republican on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is in the running for a high-level post at the Energy Department, potentially energy secretary, a source close to the Trump transition team tells ME.
Svinicki, who did not respond to a request for comment, had been widely expected to be tapped to head the NRC under the Trump administration and would face a relatively easier confirmation to another term, once her second term expires in July. 
Harold Hamm, the billionaire CEO of the oil and gas company Continental Resources, has also been reported to be in the running for the position, although he has told his employees he's staying with the company, according to a little-noticed report in the Oklahoman last week.

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Day for Nuclear Waste (Politico Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Donald Trump's presidential victory, combined with the retirement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, should revive the debate over the long-stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project that has burned through $15 billion over three decades, Pro's Darius Dixon reports. "I'm excited to work with the Trump Administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to quickly restore funding to continue the licensing process, as well as pass comprehensive nuclear waste management legislation for his signature," said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a leading Yucca backer who's seeking the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

President-elect Trump hasn't yet taken a position on Yucca, but he said last month during a visit to Nevada that he was "going to take a look at it." And that's music to the ears of the project's supporters, who have grown weary of opposition espoused by Hillary Clinton and Reid, who repeatedly pressured his caucus to squeeze Yucca funding out of spending bills. Though support for Yucca is strong, many supporters believe they will need to include the creation of temporary waste storage facilities - like one proposed for a site in Andrews County, Texas - to draw more Democrats off the fence.

Positions on the project do not fall exclusively along party lines. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who is expected to have a tough re-election race in 2018, has vowed to keep fighting the project. Meanwhile, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the No. 4 Democrat in the Senate, told a dinner hosted by the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council this summer that the next Congress would take on "meaningful nuclear waste reform, which includes a place for Yucca Mountain," according to an attendee.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bonneville Power Administration Rate Proposal Focuses on Cost Management, Maintaining Value (Bonneville Power Administration)

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Bonneville Power Administration today released its initial rate proposal, which will support investments in the Federal Columbia River Power System that provides renewable hydropower to 142 Northwest public utilities. The proposed rates for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 will also support investments to sustain and expand the federal transmission system. BPA is proposing a 3.5 percent average wholesale power rate increase and a 1.1 percent average increase to transmission rates for the two-year rate period.

“These rates represent months of work to reduce budgets and focus on cost-management measures to lower expected rate increases,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA’s administrator and chief executive officer. “The steps we have taken so far for the 2018-2019 rate period have begun to shift BPA onto a more sustainable rate trajectory and demonstrate our commitment to remaining our customers’ wholesale provider of choice.”

BPA started discussions on expense and capital spending levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 in June during the Integrated Program Review and Capital Investment Review process. Customers, constituents and stakeholders from around the region participated in the process by taking a thorough look at BPA’s proposed spending levels. BPA has used aggressive cost management, disciplined budgeting practices, operational efficiency and revenue enhancements to lower expected costs in the final spending levels released in October.

The average proposed wholesale power rate is $34.94 per megawatt hour, an increase of 3.5 percent for the rate period, or 1.7 percent annually. About half of the rate increase is due to higher program costs such as the operations and maintenance expenses BPA pays to the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation to run the federal hydro facilities, and increased costs of the fish and wildlife program. The other half of the rate increase is due to lower forecast sales due to general regional load loss and a slight reduction in forecast system generation. In addition, many power customers will see a lower proposed rate increase of 2.3 percent due to a one-time credit that was generated from savings created from Regional Cooperation Debt transactions that were initiated in 2014.

Transmission Services was able to minimize spending increases by focusing on mission-critical work and planning investments that provide the greatest benefit to ratepayers, which is reflected in the 1.1 percent average transmission rate increase for the rate period or 0.5 percent annually. BPA believes it will still be able to provide reliable transmission service to its customers and invest in substantial capital projects during the upcoming rate period while delivering a rate increase that is less than the rate of inflation.

BPA is also proposing a new financial reserves policy in this initial rate proposal that will set targets for financial reserves levels. The proposed policy is intended to maintain and strengthen BPA’s financial health, as well as support BPA’s credit rating.

“BPA is committed to working with customers and other constituents to identify additional cost-management alternatives through the IPR 2 process,” said Mainzer. BPA will hold an IPR 2 process in February to discuss a few unresolved cost areas where the greatest potential exists to further reduce near-term spending as BPA continues to focus on cost containment.

The rate-setting process begins in November and will culminate with final rate decisions in July 2017; the new rates will take effect on Oct. 1, 2017.

BPA is a nonprofit federal wholesale utility that receives no congressional appropriations and must recover its costs through its rates. The new rates will affect local retail utilities differently depending on the amount of power and type of services they purchase from BPA. Local utilities ultimately determine the impact of BPA rates on individual businesses and residents. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ferry County PUD Begins Operation of Solar Electric Vehicle Charging Station (Ferry County PUD, Republic, WA)

(REPUBLIC, WA) -- Ferry County PUD’s new solar EV charging station is in operation. The project has a long history dating back to a “Solar Schools” project about a decade ago. General Manager John Friederichs reports that a piece of faulty equipment from that project was stored in the PUD’s basement until the manufacturer offered to replace it, opening the door to use it for a new purpose.

Friederichs says the PV equipment was from a PUD-owned off-grid system that was removed from service when the customer was connected to the normal distribution grid. The system had originally been paid for through a USDA/RUS grant. The remainder of the new solar PV/charging system includes a used meter base/disconnect purchased off eBay, a meter and related conduit and hardware. The Clipper Creek charger, with a normal retail price of nearly $2,000 was donated by private individuals through Plug-In North Central Washington, a non-profit subsidiary of the North Central Washington Economic Development District. The use of the charger is free to the vehicle owner with Plug-In North Central Washington responsible for picking up the energy cost. 

“The difference with our system lies in the fact that the energy generated by the solar modules feeds into the grid directly which gives a “net-metered” installation of sorts, except that the utility owns the equipment rather than the customer,” said Friederichs. So far the peak output has been just under 1800 watts AC.

As of October 31, Ferry County PUD has put roughly 150 kilowatt hours back into the grid, while providing 13 kWh to recharge a Tesla S (pictured below).  Should the energy used to charge vehicles ever exceed the energy generated during the course of the year, Plug-In NCW will be billed annually for that use; ensuring the PUD at least breaks even.

“We see this as an economic development benefit to our community,” said Friederichs. “When a driver connects a car to our charger, they will be spending a couple of hours in Republic, enjoying a meal or even an overnight stay.”

Early in the planning, Mike Nelson, past director of the WSU Energy Extension Office, referred to Republic as “The missing tooth in the smile of an electrified Highway 20” and he was instrumental in spreading the work about the proposal, which led to the offer of the donated charger. 

One-Third of Washington State Voters Have Cast Ballots (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

Mason PUD No. 3’s $7 Million Grid Modernization Project Underway (Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Hood Canal Group Eyes Internet Project (Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles, WA)

Environmental Groups to Petition Feds for ‘Whale Protection Zone’ Off Part of San Juan Island (KCPQ-TV, Seattle/Tacoma, WA)

Seattle Cannabis Firm Privateer Raises $40 Million for Legal Pot Business (SF Chronicle)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Benton REA OKs Sale to Yakama Nation Utility (Yakima Herald Republic, WA)

Report on Questionable Energy Tax Credits Names Cross-Section of Oregon Companies (Oregonian, Portland)

Carbon-Tax Initiative Foes, Backers Raise Last-Minute Cash (Seattle Times, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Southern Oregon Solar Project Lands $21 Million from East Coast Buyer (Portland Business Journal, OR)

Facebook Made $7 Billion Last Quarter & Now Has 1.79 Billion Monthly Users (AdWeek)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why Natural Gas Supply Will Be Crucial in Preventing Winter Power Outages (Utility Dive)

U-S Owes Six California Wind Farms $206 Million (Courthouse News Service)

Tree-Trimmer Causes Comcast Service Problems in Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian, WA)

City of Tacoma OKs Up to $100,000 For an Independent Look at Click! Cable’s Books (News Tribune, Tacoma, WA – Paywall Advisory)

Shelton City Leaders Get First Look at Proposed 2017 City Budget (KMAS Radio, Shelton, WA)