Archive for May 2010

Cantwell Statement on Memorial Day

“For many of us, the best way to pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed in service to our country is to remember their stories. I remember my own father. He volunteered to serve in the Army Air Force during World War II, and flew missions over Europe. I remember the soldiers I met when visiting Iraq and those I’ve met touring Washington’s military bases. And I think of our military families – the children, siblings, parents and spouses who, on this day, are thinking of a loved-one in harm’s way on the other side of the world.

“Washington state has a proud history of involvement in and support for our nation’s Armed Forces. This Memorial Day, I especially celebrate the men and women from Washington who have given so much to our nation, including the thousands of citizen soldiers who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Volunteers all, they serve with the knowledge that they could one day have to pay the ultimate price to protect their country.”

Talk About sales-On-Demand: New power sales keep wind turbines spinning

Northwest wind producers have sold rapidly increasing amounts of power on such a short-term basis since BPA introduced the option in December. Half-hour transactions in April hit their high point so far of 4,424 megawatt half-hours, or the equivalent of about four nuclear power plants worth of energy for a half-hour.

The May example was the first time the new program prevented the shutdown of wind turbines when the hydroelectric system ran out of capacity to offset changes in wind energy. The program has proved so successful BPA is now extending it indefinitely and looking for ways to apply it in other situations, such as when wind turbines produce considerably less energy than scheduled.

Its success illustrates how the region’s power system is swiftly evolving to handle the ups and downs in wind and the energy it produces.

“Wind generates power in a different way than the system was used to, so we’re making sure the power system changes with the times,” said Cathy Ehli, vice president of Transmission Marketing and Sales. “It’s critical that we continue to work with our partners in the region to pursue tools like this to make full use of the region’s renewable energy resources such as wind. This represents a big step forward.”

Traditional power plants provided such steady output that utilities long bought and sold electricity on an hourly basis. But wind is changing that because the energy it produces can vary sharply within mere minutes. So BPA in December expanded staff and adjusted operations to support power sales as frequently as every half-hour.

The change lets the 27 wind energy projects connected to BPA’s grid adjust their power sales more often to better match shifts in wind. They can sell extra wind power generated by unexpected gusts, while also relieving demands on hydroelectric dams to make up for sudden changes in wind generation.

The expanded use of “intra-hour scheduling” is a major part of BPA’s wind integration strategy,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA’s executive vice president of Corporate Strategy. “We are working closely with other utilities in the region to expand the program and spread its benefits across the Northwest electricity grid.”

What happened May 12:

6:20 p.m. Wind gusts push wind energy generation 600 megawatts beyond what wind plants had scheduled to flow through BPA lines. BPA dials back generation from hydroelectric dams to accommodate the power.

6:25 p.m. BPA begins adjustments after wind farms sell 330 megawatts of the unexpected wind energy for the upcoming half-hour in four short-term transactions.

6:26 p.m. BPA nears limit of how far it can dial back hydroelectric generation without jeopardizing the stability of the power grid or protections for salmon. BPA warns that 85 percent of such reserve capacity is exhausted.

6:29 p.m. BPA warns that 90 percent of reserve capacity is exhausted. Notifies wind plants to shut down turbines in four minutes.

6:30 p.m. Half-hour power sales take effect, reducing pressure on reserves.

6:31 p.m. BPA cancels warning.

City of Hoquiam Earns Municipal Excellence Award

When the program started in 2008 the city replaced approximately 1400 lineal feet of residential sidewalks. In 2009 over 2,100 lineal feet of sidewalks were replaced at 31 homes. There are 75 homeowners on the waiting list at the start of the 2010 season, and they anticipate completing 30-50 sidewalks this year.

Out of over 50 entries, Hoquiam’s entry was one of seven projects selected to receive an Excellence Award at AWC’s 77th Annual Conference. Entries are judged by subject category and each category has one winner. The awards are judged by individuals outside of AWC, who are selected for their knowledge of and enthusiasm for local government.

Now in their 20th year, the Municipal Excellence Awards are presented to cities that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in promoting community excellence. The competition recognizes a community’s achievement and encourages other cities to develop similar programs.

“The Municipal Excellence Award demonstrates the high level of innovation and commitment to developing strong communities by city officials across the state of Washington,” said AWC CEO Mike McCarty

AWC is proud of each of the cities that entered Municipal Excellence projects. It is that show of dedication and hard work that make Washington’s cities and towns so great.

Washington Anglers can fish for free June 12-13

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to revive an old hobby or to introduce friends and family to fishing,” said Craig Burley, fish division manager for WDFW. “Adults can introduce kids to fishing on a wide variety of waters around the state.”

Anglers have been catching daily limits of trout at lakes for the past month, and many rivers will open to trout fishing June 5 throughout the state. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

Hatchery chinook salmon in Washington’s ocean waters.
Lingcod on the coast and Puget Sound.
Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout eastern Washington.
Shad and sturgeon on the Columbia River.
Spring chinook salmon on tributaries to the lower Columbia River.
Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or sturgeon they catch.

Catch record cards and Fishing in Washington 2010/2011 sportfishing rules pamphlets are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/lic/vendors/vendors.htm on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.

The sportfishing rules pamphlet also is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations

Washington State Patrol Prepares for Memorial Day Weekend

Although Washington State roadways are currently enjoying the lowest fatality rate since 1955, driving a car is still one of the biggest threats to the public’s safety. The three biggest contributors to serious injury and fatality collisions are impaired driving, speed, and lack of seatbelt usage. It is for these reasons that all available troopers will be out looking for these dangerous violations during this holiday weekend.

The WSP wants everyone to do their part this weekend – buckle-up, don’t drink and drive, slow down and share the road.

Grays Harbor PUD Reports New Wind Reporting Station Up and Running in Ocean Shores

The wind reporting station is located on the PUD microwave tower about 30 feet above ground. It retrieves wind data and posts them every 10 minutes including wind speed and wind gusts. The technology includes a data-logger attached to a PUD server that provides the means to post the data on the web for everyone to use. To view the data, go to www.weather.gov/seattle and select “state” under “observation maps” located in the left hand navigation. A map of Washington will be displayed with observation sites. Go to Ocean Shores on the map and click on the site “SEWWFO Ocean Shores.”

“This is a great tool that provides Grays Harbor PUD and the general public with wind information from the beach,” said Rick Lovely, General Manager of Grays Harbor PUD. “This additional information helps the PUD to make decisions regarding our response to power outages in powerful wind storms. We are able to evaluate conditions and make informed choices about dispatching crews,” said Lovely.

“We greatly appreciate the dedicated effort of the National Weather Service to ensure we have accurate and timely weather data. It is a great service to the PUD and to the residents and businesses living in the North Beach area,” said Lovely.

Most WA Students Skip Summer Learning Programs

"A lot of times, it’s easier to see poverty in more urban communities, and it’s a lot harder in rural communities because it’s a little more hidden. So, it’s great that they’re reaching out to the rural communities in Washington, so that those kids can also have opportunities."

Danny McDonald is superintendent of the Touchet School District near Walla Walla, in an unincorporated area with fewer than 300 children, many of them lower-income. He says, particularly in this economy, grants like "Feed Your Brain" come to the rescue.

"We’re a small, rural school – and summer school for us is important, but it’s one of those issues that we really need help on, because we don’t have any extra money to take care of our summer school program."

A list of "Feed Your Brain" grant recipients is online at www.schoolsoutwashington.org.

In a new national survey by state, the Afterschool Alliance found four out of five kids in Washington are not enrolled in summer learning programs. The reasons are primarily cost and, in some areas, a lack of programs – although almost 80 percent of parents surveyed said they would support public funding for summer learning. The Afterschool Alliance study is online at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

BPA Reports: Salmon ride smoothly through eight dams

The improvements are buttressed by spill of water to help fish safely pass dams and increased water releases to boost flow when young fish are migrating.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2000 has invested almost $800 million in improvements at the federal dams for fish passage. Congress appropriates funds to the Corps for the projects and BPA ratepayers reimburse the U.S. Treasury for about 80 percent of the cost, which has totaled about $640 million since 2000.

Salmon ride smoothly through eight dams this year

If the success of the improvements continues, the federal hydro system should meet its goal of safely moving an average of 96 percent of spring chinook and steelhead and 93 percent of sub-yearling fall chinook past each dam. The goal is outlined in the federal strategy, called a Biological Opinion, for protecting salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.

"The results have been very encouraging," said Mike Alder, federal hydro projects operations and maintenance manager for BPA. "With the weirs and other passage improvements, we are increasingly confident that we can consistently meet or exceed our BiOp targets for safe downstream fish migration. It’s a real success story."

Engineers examined each dam individually and applied lessons learned at each project to the next. Here are highlights of how the system has been overhauled for fish in the last decade.

Weirs carry fish past six dams

The smooth green water of a fish weir (closest spillway) lets young salmon slide over a dam in the surface water they prefer. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo)
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Young migrating salmon traveling near the water’s surface now slide over the four lower Snake River dams plus McNary and John Day dams on the Columbia via spillway weirs. Standard spillways require fish to dive 50 to 60 feet below the surface to find their way through, but the weirs let fish remain near the surface and pass in a quicker and less-stressful ride. While more than 97 percent of juveniles survived passage through the standard spillway at Lower Monumental Dam in 2008, virtually 100 percent survived passage through the fish slide there.

Bonneville Corner Collector

A sluiceway at Bonneville Dam has been reconfigured into a very successful fish-passage route. Virtually 100 percent of the young salmon and steelhead survive passage through this "corner collector." The $50 million renovation, completed in 2004, includes a 2,800-foot transportation channel, a 500-foot outfall channel and a plunge pool to move fish into fast-moving water beyond the predator-infested zone just below the dam. Screens at the dam’s second powerhouse ensure 95 percent of fish headed for the second powerhouse pass through the corner collector.

The Dalles Spillwall

The most recent improvement is a "spillwall" installed on the downstream side of The Dalles Dam, which is expected to boost fish passage through the dam up to or beyond the BiOp standards. "The Corps found that the most difficult point for fish at The Dalles was shallow water and confused currents just downstream," Alder said. "The solution was a spillway wall below the dam to guide fish quickly to deeper, safer water." The Corps completed the spillway wall just in time for the 2010 fish migration season.

The spillwall is expected to increase juvenile fish survival by 3 percent to 5 percent, making The Dalles to one of the safest dams on the Columbia for fish.

While the new surface passage routes have involved major investments and brought major improvements, they are neither the first nor the last revisions the Corps will make with BPA support and funding to help fish through the hydro system. BPA works with the Corps to identify and advance the most effective dam improvements. For instance, the Corps recently awarded a $10.9-million contract funded by BPA for design of a new turbine system at Ice Harbor Dam that will be safer for fish.

Selling Gold – Consumer Protection Tips from Attorney General

Some tips for selling gold:

UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU HAVE

Have the item(s) appraised. While not required by law, reputable U.S. jewelry makers stamp pieces to designate karat level and include the name or trademark of the company endorsing the mark. However, misleading or fraudulent jewelry markings are not unheard of. Going to a jeweler for an appraisal will yield the most accurate results. Scrap values don’t reflect the craftsmanship or antique value. You can find credentialed appraisers at the Web sites of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and the American Society of Appraisers.

SHOP AROUND

Payouts will vary, but it is important to remember that with more middle men involved, you’ll receive less. A study by Consumer Reports found that mail-in companies offered 11-29 percent of market value for 18-karat jewelry, while jewelers and pawn shops paid upwards of 70 percent for the same pieces. Because the price of gold fluctuates, call businesses on the same day to ask what they pay for gold. As nice as it would be, you will not be compensated $1,000 for every ounce of gold you have. That figure applies to quantities of pure gold only.

“A BIRD IN THE HAND…”

Once you send in your gold to a company, you have surrendered a fair amount of power in the transaction. If you decide to mail your jewelry, choose a reputable company that offers free insured shipping that you can track online. Provide a detailed description of what you’re sending. Keep a copy of the paperwork, along with photographs of the items. Some consumers have complained that they sent 14-karat gold items that were falsely appraised as 10-karat and quoted accordingly. Unfortunately, once the items are in the company’s hands, there is little for a consumer to do to overcome this information asymmetry other than request the items back.

BEWARE OF SUPERLATIVES

Claims such as, “We pay the highest prices!” or “America’s #1 Gold Refiner!” are red flags because they are nearly impossible to substantiate. The most reputable companies will generally steer clear from these misrepresentations and quote a price upfront with values updated daily. Transparency is always worth more than images of fanned currency.

At the end of the day, doing your homework is the best way to protect yourself and your valuables. But in these tenuous economic times, it is important to remember that selling old jewelry or scrap gold is not a long-term financial solution. While you may be compensated enough to cover a month’s worth of bills, you will not get rich.

Approaching the transaction with this understanding and conducting an adequate amount of due diligence will help ensure a fair deal.

Want more consumer advice? Previous Ask the AG columns are online at www.atg.wa.gov/askcolumn.aspx and be sure to check out the Attorney General’s All Consuming blog at www.atg.wa.gov/allconsuming.aspx.

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Attorney General Rob McKenna offers this public service to help consumers avoid fraud and to promote a fair and informed marketplace. If you have a consumer complaint or inquiry, contact the Consumer Protection Division at www.atg.wa.gov or 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays. To suggest a future topic for this column, send an e-mail to [email protected] or write to “Ask the AG”, Attorney General’s Office, 800 5th Ave. Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-3188.

Hoquiam Farmers Market News – Picnic Edition

The basket must contain pretty china plates ( bought at a garage sale is perfect!) , nice silverware (ditto, the garage sale) a good cutting board, corkscrew, nice wine glasses (no, they don’t have to match) a sharp knife, serving spoons, tablecloth and napkins (cloth) and wetwipes of some sort. I recommend a large floppy hat, plenty of sunscreen, your camera, and a totally relaxed attitude.

The next level of picnic baskets is the less formal type. I advise keeping this one close at hand. Toss the winter gear out of your car and keep this all-purpose basket with you at all times. Spontaneous opportunities for picnicking may break out at any time, and being prepared makes it happen! For this picnic basket, sturdy paper plates are allowed, though I do advise using easy washable plastic plates rather than adding to the waste with more paper. Do not succumb to buying the foam plates. I know, I know- they’re strong, they’re cheap- but they’ll stay in the landfills until dinosaur’s come back to earth to roam. If you use plastic utensils, take it home, wash it for another picnic. Cups? Paper, Please! Don’t forget a tablecloth , even if it is an old one with stains, and napkins ( wash cloths are good here). Civility must be maintained. Hand sanitizer or wetwipes, a cutting board and knives. We use our Thermos year round- winter picnics always require hot soup and hot tea, and summer picnics are much better with lemonade or water from the refrigerator. I have a deep dislike for beverages in disposable bottles. So unnecessary, so wasteful.

Third type of picnic gear? Hiking or biking requires the lightest weight that you can manage. I have a mesh soft pack that holds plenty of food for the two of us; no need for much except the food- wrap your sandwich in a moist paper towel and it will stay fresh longer. As if you can wait long before eating every last crumb- food always tastes better when eaten outside! Plenty of water ( I know that you have healthy metal water containers!) and of course, cookies. Can’t have a picnic without cookies.

I hear you wondering- what about the rest of the food? Fear not, I am here to offer assistance. First of all, begin by planning dessert. I don’t know why, but this always works. Cookies, cakes and pies are the all American favorites. Oddly enough, they can all be found at the Hoquiam Farmers Market! Nancy is making both Raspberry Rhubarb Pie plus Strawberry Rhubarb Pie this week, in addition to her other superb pies, such as Apple and Little Wild Blackberry. The tables are always laden with packages of cookies. Thank goodness.

What else? Eggs, of course. Lots of eggs, ‘cause you’re going to need them for both deviled eggs and potato salad. Our incredible fresh eggs are harder to peel than the aged ones found in grocery stores, but the lovely taste makes up for some chunks of white missing.
You also need our fresh baked bread for making sandwiches, unless you call in a sandwich order to Deidra for one of her ultra-delicious sandwiches. How easy is that? One more thing- local fresh smoked fish from Lytle’s and Anthony’s Pepperoni make the finest picnic nibbles that you can buy!

Where do you plan on going to picnic this weekend? Memorial Day is the traditional time to visit our loved ones in the cemetery, clean the headstones and place fresh flowers on the graves. Joe and I both have family in the Vader cemetery, and find it to be a lovely place to picnic. Our azaleas and rhododendrons make lavish flower offerings, and the Farmers Market has Iris and Peonies , and for the first time- Calla Lilies! All from local farmers, of course.

Barbara Bennett Parsons, writing to you from Picnic Headquarters- the Hoquiam Farmers Market! Located at 1958 Riverside, open Wed. Thru Sun.- Deidra’s Deli is open daily! 538-9747