Thursday, July 26, 2018

Franklin PUD Places Moratorium on New High Density Load Applications (Franklin PUD, Pasco, WA)

(PASCO, WA) – Franklin PUD stopped processing applications, effective immediately, to provide electric service for those needing high density loads (HDL).  At its regularly scheduled Commission meeting on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 the Board of Commissioners unanimously imposed the application moratorium to give staff time to review impacts on utility operations and the impacts of providing future services for HDLs. 

High density loads are energy-intensive and place large demands on the electric system.  To date, Franklin PUD has not experienced an influx in these types of service requests, and the potential impact to the District’s electric system from servicing HDLs is uncertain at this time.  However, because of the energy use required for HDLs, demands on the electric system, safety of the system, and other uncertainties, the Commission adopted the moratorium on accepting any new or altered electric service applications for HDLs, effective immediately. The moratorium will not apply to existing approved applications that have paid all applicable fees.

High density loads have impacts on an electric system that are different from typical residential and commercial customers.  Because of this, Franklin PUD must ensure that distribution facilities are adequate to alleviate any potential safety and reliability risk for Franklin PUD and its customers.

By approving the moratorium, this will allow staff time to evaluate a proper rate structure, cost recovery, electric system assessment, safety and reliability impacts, as well as the business stability of HDLs.  Franklin PUD staff will bring the findings of this research to a later Commission meeting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Getting the Bandwidth Back Together – Utility Needs for Radio Frequencies (Politico’s Morning Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Board members of the Utilities Technology Council are swarming Capitol Hill today to press an energy issue flying far below the Beltway radar: the energy needs for radio frequency spectrum. That bandwidth is particularly crucial during grid outages when crews need to coordinate restoration and is expected to become an increasingly stressful subject as more wireless smart meters and sensors are added to the electric grid. The FCC has primary jurisdiction on how portions of spectrum are doled out, and according to UTC CEO Joy Ditto, the agency hasn't been sympathetic to the communication needs of utilities and other power generators.

"They don't really differentiate between us and Joe's pizza place down the street," she told ME. "That's not the way the rest of the government perceives us," she said, given the emphasis the White House and the departments of Energy and Homeland Security have put on protecting critical infrastructure like the electric grid. "Yet, when it comes to this crucial component of our communications systems, we're not treated any differently than anyone else." Federal utilities like the Energy Department's power marketing administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority are given some priority.

One of the industry's big concerns isn't so much that wireless interference will trigger an emergency so much as it could make some of those fancy sensors designed to keep the system operating reliably from sending data at critical times. "You're lacking situational awareness, so if you're lacking something on your system you may not see it," she said. So, during the 30-40 meetings the trade group has lined up with congressional offices, their critical request is that FERC and the FCC talk more often, pursue a memorandum of understanding between the two regulators, and perhaps set up joint technical conferences, Ditto said.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Man Seriously Injured In Fall at Mossyrock Dam in Lewis County (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(MOSSYROCK, WA) – A man who reportedly fell 50 feet at Mossyrock Dam early Saturday morning was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries.

According to the Lewis County 911 Center, the first 911 call came in at 5:36 AM reporting an incident at Mossyrock Dam and a person suffering fractures. The Chronicle reports at 5:50 AM the Lewis County Tactical Rescue Team was dispatched to the site. The Chehalis Fire Department is the lead agency for the team.

Chehalis Fire Chief Ken Cardinale reported team members used a rope rescue system to rescue the victim, who reportedly had multiple broken bones.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Yucca Mountain – We Do Need an Education (Politico, Morning Energy)

(TONOPAH, NV) – GOP Rep. John Shimkus will educate another dozen lawmakers on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository this weekend via a field trip to the Nevada site. He told ME "the purpose of the visit is to walk the grounds and get an appreciation of the site" and that most of the lawmakers coming along have never been. Shimkus said he expected Mark Menezes, undersecretary of Energy, to participate along with other DOE officials.

Attendees include: Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg WaldenJoe BartonLarry BucshonJeff DuncanNeal DunnBrett GuthrieDoug LaMalfaMark SanfordDavid Valadao and Steve WomackDonald Norcrossis the lone Democrat on the trip.

Shimkus invited two Nevada Democrats — Reps. Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus — to participate in the visit after another, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, was unable to make his schedule work. "Unfortunately, his schedule will no longer enable him to tour the facility located in his congressional district," Shimkus wrote in a letter to Titus. She told ME in a statement that she has visited the site before. Rosen slammed Shimkus' visit as "an obvious political stunt" and vowed not to participate. "I am not interested in giving legitimacy to his taxpayer-funded junket," Rosen said in a statement to ME. Kihuen's office did not respond to a request for comment.

A local group opposed to the project, the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, wanted to attend but Shimkus said "logistical issues" prevent its participation.

The approps fight: Shimkus said he expects the issue to be a live one as the House and Senate work out differences between their versions of the "minibus" that includes the energy and water title. The House's bill included $267.7 million for the project, while the Senate's didn't offer a penny. But Shimkus said House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Rep. Mike Simpson, who leads the subcommittee responsible for the title, would fight for the Yucca funding. "They're supportive of our mark," Shimkus said.

Simpson added there was "nothing sinister" in the postponement of the conference committee's first scheduled meeting on the minibus Thursday and said that wrapping up negotiations by August is still "our goal." "But it doesn't have to be before August. Obviously, we have until Oct. 1. We'd like to get it done as soon as possible, but there are some issues in all parts of it," he said. More on the battle over Veterans funding that spurred the 11th-hour postponement here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

U-S House Votes to Shed Limits on Commercial & Sport Fishing (Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The House voted to open up U.S. fisheries to more commercial and sport fishing on Wednesday.

The House passed the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act by a 222-193 vote.

Eliminates ‘unscientific’ conservation limits: The bill would open up U.S. coastal waters to more fishing by reducing "unscientific" conservation limits and quotas on the amount of fish caught annually.

The bill "eliminates unscientific timeframes to rebuild fish stocks," which "unnecessarily restrict access to fisheries," according to a summary of the bill.

Reauthorizes the fisheries law: The bill introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, reauthorizes, while modernizing, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters.

The bill provides greater regional flexibility, tailored management practices, and improved data collection for all U.S. federal fisheries off the coasts of most ocean-adjoining states.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Northwest Public Power Association Announces 2018-2019 Board Officers (Northwest Public Power Association)

(VANCOUVER, WA) – The Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) Board of Trustees has named Scott Egbert of Wells Rural Electric Association (Wells, Nev.) as the 2018-2019 NWPPA Board of Trustees president; Egbert will succeed Idaho Falls Power’s Jackie Flowers, who accepted the position of director of utilities at Tacoma Utilities. Egbert’s term as board president begins on July 21.

The board also announced the following officers:
  • First Vice President Ron Holmes of Wasco Electric Cooperative (The Dalles, Ore.)
  • Second Vice President Brad Janorschke of Homer Electric Association (Homer, Alaska)
  • Secretary/Treasurer Michelle Bertolino of Roseville Electric Utility (Roseville, Calif.)
  • Immediate Past President Steven Taylor of Mason County PUD No. 1 (Shelton, Wash.)
About NWPPA: The Northwest Public Power Association is an international association representing and serving over 150 customer-owned, locally controlled utilities in the Western U.S. and Canada. The Association also serves approximately 300 associate members across the U.S. and Canada who are allied with the electric utility industry. For more information, visit:, or

Monday, July 2, 2018

Governor Bullock, Bonneville Power Administration Release Report on Montana’s Positive Outlook for Renewable Energy (Office of the Governor, State of Montana)

(HELENA, MT) – Governor Steve Bullock and the Bonneville Power Administration today released the Montana Renewables Development Action Plan, which identifies specific actions intended to promote the further development of renewable energy projects in Montana and improve the ability of West Coast markets to access that energy.

“We brought together stakeholders from diverse interests to seek common understanding on very complex issues – and to find solutions that work,” said Governor Bullock. “With this effort, we’re boosting the opportunities for more energy development in Montana and making Montana wind more attractive for West Coast buyers, all to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for Montanans.”

The report supports the conclusion that Montana has an opportunity to play a significant role in energy markets by growing its renewable resource base. The state currently has more than 700 megawatts of installed wind capacity, with the potential to develop significantly more wind resources. Even more encouraging is the report’s finding that there is existing capacity to transmit that power to the Northwest.

“It was a pleasure to work with Governor Bullock and many other partners from across the region during this process,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA Administrator. “Through collaboration, hard work and a little bit of active listening, we identified existing short-term opportunities and some longer-term priorities that should enable the additional development of renewable energy in Montana to complement existing hydropower and other renewable generation across the Pacific Northwest. I am excited and committed to working with the other participants in this process to deliver on the plan's recommendations.”

Efforts to compile the report began several months ago when Mainzer and Bullock invited a diverse group of stakeholders to take a collaborative look at renewable energy challenges and opportunities in Montana. The group, which included public and private utilities, regulators, advocates, and renewable resource developers, focused their efforts on producing a sustainable long-term strategy to develop new renewable energy resources in Montana. The work addressed issues including commercial needs, policies, planning and operational issues. This inclusive approach to collaboration and problem-solving allowed the group to identify solutions that satisfy the region’s needs.

“We’ve always known that Montana had the most energetic wind resource in the region. This collaborative process reveals that existing transmission — with modest investments — can deliver considerable amounts of renewable energy to West Coast utilities,” said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of Renewable Northwest and a member of the Task Force Steering Committee. “This is great news for customers, the environment, and Montana’s rural economic vitality. Washington and Oregon utilities should be confident that they can cost-effectively deliver Montana wind to their customers."

The Action Plan identifies 18 actions that, if taken, would remove barriers to the development and export of Montana renewable resources. Highlighted actions include:

  • Broad recognition and agreement that the Colstrip transmission network is not only important to local Northwestern Energy needs, but vital to future renewable energy development in Eastern Montana. The Colstrip owners and BPA have committed to reviewing the agreements that govern the delivery of Colstrip power and to look at modernizing them to address today’s energy challenges and opportunities.
  • There is a considerable amount of transmission capacity available now to move renewable energy out of Montana, and over time and with a few relatively cost-effective actions, that available capacity is expected to grow significantly as Colstrip units 1 and 2 retire.
  • Many believed that technical limitations of the transmission system would significantly limit the opportunity for Montana renewables to move to west coast markets. The report and underlying analyses shows that these concerns are not significant barriers.

BPA has committed to track progress on the action items and file progress reports with committee members and interested parties.

The Action Plan marks another step in Governor Bullock’s Energy Blueprint to determine the state’s energy future through a balanced and responsible plan with all sectors of the energy industry. Through the blueprint, Governor Bullock has committed to working with the Colstrip community to ensure they remain a viable part of the energy future, in addition to developing potential for wind and solar power and harnessing new technology for carbon capture. Since the release of the blueprint in 2016, Montana has quadrupled its solar production.  

The Montana Renewables Development Action Plan can be found here:

Bear Prairie Appointed General Manager of Idaho Falls Power (City of Idaho Falls, ID)

(IDAHO FALLS, ID)  -- The Idaho Falls City Council voted unanimously to appoint Bear Prairie as the new General Manager of Idaho Falls Power during the June 28th city council meeting.

Prairie has worked for Idaho Falls Power since 2010 where he has served as the Assistant General Manager. With more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry, Prairie started his career in energy at the Idaho Power Company in Boise.  He has extensive experience and expertise in commodity trading and management of a broad range of energy products.

“As I examined the range available options for filling the vacancy, a few things quickly became clear to me,” said Mayor Rebecca Casper.  “First and perhaps foremost, in his role as Assistant General Manager for IFP, Mr. Prairie has been professionally prepared to step in and lead the utility. He is eminently qualified to lead any energy utility in the county and we are very fortunate that he has chosen to continue his career here with us.”

In his role as Assistant General Manager, Prairie helped manage the daily operation of Idaho Falls Power’s four hydroelectric dams, 450 miles of distribution lines and service to over 28,000 customers including a fiber optic communication business.  He was also responsible for the utility’s long rage power supply planning, power operations, resource development and risk management.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with City leadership and the community to continue Idaho Falls Power’s legacy of delivering reliable and cost effective services to our City,” said Prairie.  “Surrounded by the dedicated staff that works through all conditions to serve our customers, I see many bright days ahead.”

With his appointment, Prairie, who will make an annual salary of $225,000, will take over control of Idaho Falls Power from current General Manger, Jackie Flowers, who is departing to assume leadership of Tacoma Public Utilities in Washington.  Her last day with Idaho Falls Power will be July 20, 2018.

“I am humbled to be chosen to fill Jackie’s shoes. She has provided great leadership to the team and vision to the utility,” Prairie said.  “I plan to continue to listen to the community, as she did, so we are well positioned to continue delivering services.”

Two Arrested in the Death of Missing Lewis County Teen (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(CHEHALIS, WA) -- Two people were arrested late Friday in the case of a missing teen from Randle.

According to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol troopers contacted the two during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 near Ellensburg.

Lewis County deputies traveled to Ellensburg and interviewed the two brothers, 16-year old Benito S. Marquez and 21-year old Jonathan R, Adamson. Based on the interviews, deputies arrested Marquez and Adamson on suspicion of second degree murder in the death of Benjamin Eastman III. They were returned to Lewis County.

Marquez was booked into Lewis County Juvenile Detention and Adamson into the Lewis County Jail.