Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Centralia City Light Purchases New Substation Transformer (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(CENTRALIA, WA) -- The Centralia City Council last week approved the purchase of a new electrical substation transformer that will likely be the main piece of equipment at the Salzer substation that will be constructed soon.

Centralia City Light Manager M.L. Norton says that at $860,000, the cost comes in about $140,000 below the estimated cost of $1 million. He says the transformer will be installed on a platform that is designed to move during an earthquake to protect it and keep it functioning.

The new Salzer substation is expected to be completed in 2018.

No Washington State Budget = Potential State Employee Layoffs (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(OLYMPIA, WA) -- The seemingly never-ending budget talks in Olympia have become much more concerning for thousands of state employees.

Friday the state budget office formally notified the union representing Washington state employees that workers could be temporarily laid off if a compromise isn’t reached by July 1. Some employees received notice of potential layoffs earlier in the week. Tim Welch with Washington Federation of State Employees says the notifications hurt morale and the uncertainty hurts state agencies’ ability to plan for the future.

State lawmakers entered a second special session last week. If they don’t come to an agreement by the end of June, there will be a government shutdown.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Federal Budget Proposal to Sell off Bonneville Power Administration Transmission System Panned by Public Power Council (Public Power Council, Portland, OR)

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Public Power Council stated its opposition to a proposal in the Administration’s Budget released today that would divest the electricity transmission system of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  BPA is a power marketing agency created to sell and deliver electricity from the federal Columbia River power system “at cost” to citizens of the Northwest.  It operates 15,000 miles of transmission lines, all of the costs of which are paid for through the rates charged to its customers.

“We’ll want the details, but the effect appears to be a transfer of value from the people of the Northwest to the U.S. Treasury,” said PPC Executive Director, Scott Corwin.  “Electricity consumers in the West have paid to construct and maintain a system that would be sold off to fund the federal government.”

PPC staff will be analyzing specifics of the proposal if and when they become available.  Today’s budget summary documents show almost $5 billion attributed to divesting the BPA transmission assets between 2018 and 2027, with almost $1.8 billion of that amount collected in fiscal year 2019.

“Electric utilities here are already working with BPA toward evolution and modernization of the transmission system,” Corwin said.  “These efforts are best handled in-region where the expertise lies with the parties who pay for the system.”

At first look, the proposal raises several potential concerns including: (1) loss of regional control and value; (2) risk of increased costs to consumers; (3) potential for remote areas of the system to be neglected, harming rural communities; and, (4) impacts to reliability of what is currently a complex and integrated system.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Portland General Electric Pulls Permit for Natural Gas Plants (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Hydro Fills the Gap – Richland Nuclear Plant Powers Down Temporarily for Routine Refueling & Maintenance (Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA)

SolarWorld Says Hillsboro Factory ‘Operating as Usual’ Despite Parent’s Insolvency (Oregonian, Portland)

Hackers Hit Dozens of Countries Exploiting Stolen NSA Tool (NY Times)

Fatal Crash Reported Near Bayshore (Mason Web TV, Shelton, WA)

Other Energy Groups Enter Perry's Grid Study (Politico Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Representatives from the hydropower, biomass, waste-to-energy, biogas and geothermal energy sectors sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last week requesting a meeting as the agency conducts its review of the electric grid.

"We believe this review will demonstrate the need to better recognize, value, and properly compensate renewable baseload technologies for the grid benefits and services they provide," they wrote.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bonneville Power Admin CFO Moving On – New Omaha Public Power District Chief Financial Officer Held Same Post with Federal Power Marketer (Omaha World-Herald, IA)

No Drought Warnings in Pacific Northwest for First Time Since 2011 (Associated Press)

SolarWorld Says It’s Insolvent – Fate of Hillsboro Factory Unclear (Oregonian, Portland)

Ransomware Attack Hitting FedEx, Hospitals, Utilities, and More in at Least 74 Countries (Consumerist)

What Does Latest ‘Swarm’ of Seattle-Area Earthquakes Mean? (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, WA)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Solid Snowpack Heading into Dry Season (KING-TV, Seattle, WA)

Bonneville Power Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Outlook Improving (Bonneville Power Administration)

Mason PUD 3 Restores Power to 3,300 Customers in Downtown Shelton (Mason PUD 3, Shelton, WA)

Incentives for Washington State Solar Begin to Sunset (KNKX Radio, Tacoma, WA)

Eclipse to Test U-S Electric Grid Reshaped by Solar Power (Financial Times)

U-S Senator Murkowski Frustrated over Nomination Process (Politico Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – She's not sure what's causing the holdups, but Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski says she's increasingly exasperated by the lack of nominees sent her way. "All I know is names go into a dark hole and it just seems to take forever," she said. "Where are they? This is May! ... I don't want to say I'm being a nag, but I am being persistent."

Not blaming Democrats: Unlike many of her peers, Murkowski said she won't entirely blame Democrats for delays. "I'm not seeing that it is the Democrats that are delaying it," she said. "I think you've got some internal things going on, that I'm just not quite sure what is causing the hold up." But the lack of names is already impacting Trump's ability to implement his agenda: "You can't put in place the president's priorities if his secretaries don't have their people in place," Murkowski said.

Zinke shares her concerns: Murkowski said she spoke with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the lack of progress and "he's just as frustrated as I am by this." But the problem isn't the people being picked for roles, she said. "Not one name have I heard has been rejected," the Alaskan said.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Permanent Speed Limit Change Comes to Highway 3 between Gorst & Belfair (Washington State Department of Transportation)

May 1, 2017
(BELFAIR, WA) – Drivers will soon notice new speed limit signs along a segment of State Route 3 from Gorst to Belfair. Crews will replace existing 55 mile-per-hour speed limit signs with new 50 mile-per-hour speed limit signs. The permanent speed reduction affects SR 3 from milepost 27.1 to 34.02.

This change is a result of a Washington State Department of Transportation speed study.

The lowered speed limit will be enforceable as soon as new signs are posted, currently scheduled for the week of May 8.

Olympic Region
PO Box 47440
Olympia, WA 98504-7440

Groups Want President Trump to Weigh in on Breaching Snake River Hydropower Dams (Hydroworld)

Carbon Intensity of Energy Use Is Lowest in U-S Industrial & Electric Power Sectors (U-S Energy Information Administration)

Biologist: Orca Attacks on Gray Whales in California Bay (Associated Press)

Residents Voice Support of Grant PUD Fiber Optic Network Expansion (iFiberOne News, Ephrata, WA)

Former Washington Governor Mike Lowry Dead at 78 (KIRO Broadcasting, Seattle, WA)

Mail Call! Concerns Raised Over Grid Study (Politico Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Seven Senate Energy and Natural Resources Democrats, led by Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, are crying foul this morning over the Energy Department's 60-day study of the electric grid that they say appears intended to blame renewable energy sources for the struggles of nuclear and coal. "This study appears to be a thinly-disguised attempt to promote less economic electric generation technologies, such as coal and nuclear, at the expense of cost-competitive wind and solar power," they write in a letter. The letter encourages Secretary Rick Perry to adequately consider other factors, like low natural gas prices and existing analyses showing positive impacts of renewable sources on grid reliability, when conducting the review.