Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners approve 1.5% rate increase

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners has approved an increase in customer rates. The 1.5% increase will go into effect on August 1st.

The increase was approved in December as part of the 2014 budget. However, the commissioners agreed to postpone a portion of the increase to help move the District away from winter increases to the summer when bills are lower and household expenses are not as high.

“We understand that when bills go up it has a big impact on customers,” said Commission President Russ Skolrood. “For that reason, we delayed a portion of this increase until August 1st when electricity bills are not as high. The extra time also gave our staff a chance to make some adjustments and reduce the size of the increase.”

The PUD had expected an increase of 1.75%, however those adjustments allowed the increase to be lowered by a quarter-percent. The need for the increase is driven by rising operational costs, especially an increase in power costs from the Bonneville Power Administration.

PUD Commissioners to consider 1.5% rate increase at next meeting

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners will consider an increase in customer rates at their regularly scheduled meeting on July 21, 2014.  The 1.5% increase will go into effect on August 1.

The need for the increase is driven by rising operational costs, especially an increase in power costs from the Bonneville Power Administration .  The PUD had expected an increase of 1.75%, however budget adjustments allowed the increase to be lowered by a quarter-percent.

“I really appreciate the work put in by the staff to make this increase as small as possible.  Thanks to some pencil sharpening, we were able to find a little room to ease the impact on our customers,” said Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood.  “Providing safe and reliable power to our customers is the most important job we have.  It’s our responsibility to do it at the lowest practical cost.”

The change is part of an increase approved last December as part of the 2014 budget.  However, the commissioners agreed to postpone a portion of the increase to help move the District away from winter increases to a time when bills are lower and household expenses are not as high.

Construction of BPA’s Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line begins in May

The Bonneville Power Administration will begin construction of the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line Project in May. The new line is expected to carry over 800 additional megawatts of renewable wind energy, enough to power about half a million Northwest homes when the wind is blowing.
The 38-mile, 500-kilovolt line in Washington will connect the new Central Ferry Substation in Garfield County to the existing Lower Monumental Substation in Walla Walla County. It is expected to be energized in December 2015.
“Building the right facilities in the right place at the right time is a key principle of our long-term transmission services planning process,” said Richard Shaheen, BPA vice president for Engineering and Technical Services. “Specifically, this project will add critical transmission grid capacity, support new transmission requests from generators in the Snake River area and be a welcome boost to local and regional economies.”
For more than 75 years, BPA has been the major developer of energy infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. Electric utilities and electric power consumers depend on BPA to maintain reliable transmission service at low rates and meet growing demands for electricity.
Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line ProjectOver the past several years, numerous power generation projects, including large wind projects, have requested interconnection with the BPA system in the Snake River area. After studying the transmission system and identifying where capacity is available, BPA determined that there is not enough available transmission capacity to accommodate the requests. Building the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental project will allow BPA to meet the requests for transmission and allow additional power to flow between areas east of the Cascade Mountains to heavily populated areas in the west.
In August 2011, the Central Ferry-Lower Monumental Transmission Line Project was put on hold because of uncertainties regarding the need for the new line. However, in August 2013, BPA notified customers, landowners and stakeholders that it was moving forward with construction of the line. Existing customer need coupled with an agreement for Portland General Electric to acquire Phase 2 of Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River Wind Project, which PGE renamed the Tucannon River Wind Farm, required construction activities to begin this spring.
The Tucannon River Wind Farm is a key infrastructure investment that supports PGE’s balanced energy portfolio. Tucannon River will help PGE satisfy Oregon’s renewable energy standard, which requires the utility to supply 15 percent of the electricity its customers use from renewable resources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.
In early 2011, BPA completed an environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering design for the project. BPA issued a record of decision to build the line in March 2011. Since then, BPA has conducted additional environmental review of some access road modifications and a material yard.
The contractor hired to build the new line is MYR Group, a leading specialty contractor serving the electrical infrastructure market throughout the United States. It has the experience and expertise to complete electrical installations of any type and size. MYR Group’s power line capabilities include transmission, overhead and underground distribution and substation projects.
BPA also will be holding two “Meet the Builder” open-houses in late April so the public can learn more about the construction process and schedule, speak with representatives of the MYR Group and meet the BPA project team.  To learn more about the project, go to

BPA offering $20,000 in science and energy education grants

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is offering $20,000 in science and energy education grants to nonprofit organizations, schools and others in support of work to educate students in grades K through 12 about the energy systems of the Pacific Northwest.

The goal of the program is to advance students’ understanding, awareness and interest in the issues and science involved in energy generation and transmission in the region.

Funded projects could focus on hydroelectricity, wind and other sources of electric power, methods of conserving electricity, studies of energy and environment, programs on engineering and technology skills relating to energy, and others. The intent of the grants is to support science, technology, engineering and math education with specific emphasis on electric-utility issues.

“Science, technology, engineering and math education is absolutely vital to the energy industry in the Northwest, and this program represents an investment in future innovators, leaders and workforce in that industry,” said Greg Delwiche, BPA deputy administrator.

A total of $20,000 will be awarded. BPA anticipates making five to 10 grants ranging from $500 to $5,000.

The educational grant program is in its third year. Projects funded in 2013-2014 were:

Martin Sortun Elementary School, Kent, Wash. – $1,400 for energy robotics kits and teacher training that engaged 360 students in third through sixth grade in energy concepts such as energy transfer, generation, operation of the electric grid, and renewable energy.

Central Klickitat Conservation District, Goldendale, Wash. – $2,314 for a comprehensive program of classroom instruction and field trips on electric energy and conservation in the Northwest for 540 students in seventh through 12th grade.

Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program, Yakima Basin, Wash. – $2,500 for classroom visits and field trips for 700 students in fourth through 10th grade in Yakima and Kittitas counties. Students learned about the life cycle of the salmon and operations of the river to meet multiple demands, capped off with a field trip to see the historic return of salmon to Cle Elum Lake for the first time in 100 years.

Polson Middle School, Polson, Mont. – $2,134 for a school-wide sixth-grade science education project focusing on energy stewardship, including experiments, building models, collecting data, and developing reports and conclusions about alternative sources of energy. Students presented their findings in a “Creativity Showcase” event for families and the community.

Benton Conservation District, Kennewick, Wash. – $3,700 for “Salmon Power!” where students raised tanks of salmon in their classroom, studied hydroelectric generation and dam operations, and learned how their actions can conserve electricity and aid salmon.

Springfield School District, Springfield, Ore. – $3,120 for materials and teacher training for a project that allowed 1,000 sixth graders and 140 high school physics and engineering students to build, test and modify a small-scale hydropower generator.

Clackamas County Friends of Extension, Clackamas County, Ore. – $5,000 to develop and administer the state’s first curriculum on renewable energy and energy conservation topics designed to meet state science and engineering education standards. The project reached 1,000 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in Clackamas County.

The Science and Energy Education grants program, which is one facet of a much larger education outreach program by BPA, was designed to extend the reach of BPA’s education efforts by supporting the teachers and nonprofits working locally to advance energy education.

Funding can be awarded to school districts, government agencies and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The recipients must be from, and funding used in, BPA service territory in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and parts of Montana, Nevada and Wyoming.

Applications for project funding are due May 9, and funding will be awarded in June for projects taking place over the 2014-2015 school year. For complete terms and instructions on completing a science and energy education grant proposal, please visit:

BPA’s education program provides free presentations and information to K-12 schools in our region to help students achieve energy literacy, and to support science, technology, engineering and math education. For information on BPA education programs, go to

BPA is a nonprofit federal agency that markets renewable hydropower from federal Columbia River dams, operates three-quarters of high-voltage transmission lines in the Northwest and funds one of the largest wildlife protection and restoration programs in the world. BPA and its partners have also saved enough electricity through energy efficiency projects to power four large American cities.

Public input sought on potential habitat restoration project near Astoria

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is seeking public input and comment on potential environmental impacts from a proposed project to restore a tidal marsh in Clatsop County, Ore., to benefit salmon and steelhead. An open house describing the proposed work will be held Jan. 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Astoria.
The Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project proposes to modify a levee to inundate historic wetlands on a 221-acre property at the confluence of the Wallooskee and Youngs rivers some five miles from the Columbia River. The restoration would include the creation of a network of tidal channels and the re-establishment of native vegetation. The project would enhance rearing and estuary habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead as well as provide habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk and river otter.
BPA is considering funding the project to help mitigate for the impacts of the construction and operation of federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, collectively referred to as the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work is being done by Astoria Wetlands, an environmental resources company.
After the restoration efforts, Astoria Wetlands would turn the property over to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for long-term stewardship. BPA would maintain a conservation easement to ensure permanent protection of the property’s conservation values. To understand the potential environmental impacts of this proposal, BPA will prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be a cooperating agency in the development of the assessment in their role as a permitting agency for levee modification and wetland work.

Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project Open House
Date: 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Nehalem Room, Oregon Department of Forestry, 92219 Highway 202, Astoria,

At the meeting, there will be no formal presentation. Instead, members of the public can review displays and other materials. Representatives from BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Astoria Wetlands will be on hand to answer questions. Public comments will be accepted at the meeting.
Additionally, comments will be accepted through Jan. 27 online at as well as the following venues:
Mail: Bonneville Power Administration, Public Affairs – DKE, P.O. Box 14428,
Portland, OR 97291-4428
Fax: 503-230-4019
Phone: 800-622-4519 (toll-free)
Please refer to Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project when leaving a comment.

Grays Harbor PUD adopts rate increase, will revisit second increase in July

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Rates are on the rise at the Grays Harbor PUD, General Manager Dave Ward tells us the increasing cost of power from the Bonneville Power Administration is just one factor “You know we have aging infrastructure, we’ve got to continue to put our dollars back into our system. We have some retirements coming up too, so we’ve got to start planning for a little bit of succession planning. So we’ve put some focus on that, back to the basics of providing good service.
Ward said the utility will revisit a possible second rate increase in the coming summer. “We’ve elected to split that, see how we do through the winter with the wholesale power market. See other ways we could reduce our costs, and try to reduce as much as we can come July.
For the average residential customer, the 3.75% increase will add about $4.11 to their monthly bill, effective January first.
As we reported earlier this month, the PUD is facing almost $2 million in increased power costs this coming year, mostly due to the Bonneville Power Administration, from whom the District purchases most of their power, raising their transmission rates by 11% and their power rates by 9% this past October. The utility’s capital budget also calls for $10 million in expenditures deemed necessary to replace aging electrical equipment and to maintain the system.

Grays Harbor PUD eyes rate increase for 2014

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Grays Harbor PUD is proposing a rate increase of 3.75%, which would take effect on January 1, 2014. A proposal will be presented to the Commissioners at their next meeting December 16, 2013 as part of the 2014 budget. For the average residential customer, it will add about $4.11 to their monthly bill.

The PUD is facing almost $2 million in increased power costs this coming year, mostly due to the Bonneville Power Administration, from whom the District purchases most of their power, raising their transmission rates by 11% and their power rates by 9% this past October. The utility’s capital budget also calls for $10 million in expenditures deemed necessary to replace aging electrical equipment and to maintain the system.

General Manager Dave Ward is working with staff to lower costs and postpone projects into future budget years when possible. “The PUD staff has worked hard to reduce our budget as a means to mitigate the impacts felt from external costs. We will continue to look for ways to reduce expenses while not negatively impacting our ability to provide safe and reliable service,” Ward said.

Prior to July 2014, the PUD will evaluate the need for an additional rate adjustment of up to 1.75%.

BPA adopts higher wholesale power and transmission rates

For transmission customers, the first rate increase in six years averages 11 percent higher than current rates. The transmission rate increase stems from a growing construction program driven by the need to repair and replace aging infrastructure and increase spending on mandatory compliance and security requirements. An average of $20 million per year in financial reserves will be used to offset part of the rate increase.

Wholesale power and transmission rates are developed every two years through a formal rate-setting process with BPA’s utility customers and other stakeholders. The process began in November when BPA announced its rate proposals for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

The new rates will affect utilities differently depending on the amount of power and type of services they purchase from BPA. Local utilities ultimately determine the rate impact of BPA rates on individual businesses and residents.
The final rate proposal will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of July to provide the required 60 days for review and approval. Find more information on the rate case process

State Parks Commission to discuss budget reductions at Olympia meeting

These include reducing headquarters staff and programs, freezing equipment replacement, halting subsidies to non-core activities such as concessions and a consolidation of region offices.

The Commission has begun discussions with local governments to explore transferring 13 parks to other public operators. The parks on a list for potential transfer are Osoyoos, Brooks Memorial, Schafer, Bogachiel, Tolmie, Fay Bainbridge, Fort Okanogan, Wenberg, Fort Ward, Joemma Beach, Kopachuck, Lake Sylvia and Old Fort Townsend. Two additional parks, Nolte and Squilchuck, will potentially be mothballed until resources are once more available. For more information about the budget reduction proposal, see the news fact sheet at The Commission will consider public comment on the proposal as they implement the final state budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

In light of the February 2009 revenue forecast which predicts a worsening economy and a revenue shortfall of more than $8 billion, the Legislature has asked the agency to develop a deeper reduction scenario to total $23 million. The Commission will discuss possible criteria for selecting additional parks for potential mothballing. The Commission will welcome public comment on selection criteria. In morning business on meeting day, the Commission will consider extending the term of a concession agreement at Blake Island State Park from 20 years to 40 years, in exchange for a new operator to assume responsibility for all concession facility maintenance and improvements.

The current concession, Tillicum Village, offers park visitors a passenger ferry ride across Puget Sound to Blake Island for a hosted salmon dinner, interpretive programs and entertainment consistent with Northwest Coast Native American themes. Morning business also will include a report on the State Parks Capital Development program and an item asking the Commission to consider a perpetual maintenance easement for Bonneville Power Administration at Iron Horse State Park. Commission budget work session: A Commission budget work session is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at State Parks Headquarters, 1111 Israel Road S.W., Olympia. The Commission takes no formal action or public comment at work sessions.