As the first storms of the fall move toward Grays Harbor, PUD crews are reminding customers to stay clear of downed power lines.

“Just because a line is down on the ground or hanging from a downed tree or pole, does not mean that it is de-energized,” said PUD Safety/Environment Director Dale Benner.  “If you come across a downed power line, stay away from it and immediately contact the PUD.”

On Tuesday, PUD crews witnessed a close call on the Walker Road when a property owner was found cutting a fallen tree that lay next to a downed, but still energized line.

“That customer was very lucky,” said Benner.  “If he had made contact with that line, at best he is in the hospital and at worst it would have killed him.”

If you see a downed power line, you are advised to immediately call 911If you are in a vehicle that has struck a power pole and the lines are near or on your car, you should call 911 and stay in your vehicle until help arrives.

An annual review of Grays Harbor PUD finances and accountability by the Washington State Auditor’s office contained no material findings for the year 2016.  The final report, delivered to the PUD Board of Commissioners and staff last week, concluded that the District “has good controls and procedures in place for accountability areas that (were) audited.” 

In addition, the auditor found the utility financial statements fairly represented the financial position of the PUD and were “in accordance with the accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

While the review delivered a clean opinion of utility finances and accountability, a finding wasnoted by the Auditor related to the reporting of postemployment benefits which resulted in a deferred debt balance, but did not impact utility cash balances. 

“This finding centered on the application of an accounting principal the utility had been making consistently for eight years,” said Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Skolrood.  “Once discovered, we immediately corrected the error, a fact for which the Auditor commended the District for in the Audit Exit Conference.”

In the concluding statement, the Auditor found that “District operation complied with applicable requirements and provided adequate safeguarding of public resources.”  The report also found that the utility was in full compliance with state laws and regulations and its own internal policies and procedures in the areas examined by the state.

“I am very proud of our staff for the work they put into this report.  The state’s findings tell our employees and our customers that their utility is in good hands and that the public trust in their PUD is well placed,” said General Manager Dave Ward.

Telephone scammers are trying a new tactic in their efforts to gain personal information from Grays Harbor PUD customers.  PUD Customer Service has received reports of callers contacting customers, claiming to represent the PUD and offering a gift card in exchange for completing a survey on their home security system.

“The PUD has not agreed to or offered such a survey and customers who receive these calls should under no circumstances give out information on their homes or personal finances,” said Communications and Government Relations Director Ian Cope.  “This is just another method to try to scam customers by gaining access to their homes, bank accounts and personal information.

In the past, PUD customers have received several waves of calls from people claiming to represent the PUD and threatening to shut off their power if they did not receive immediate payment on reportedly overdue account balances.

“Customers need to remember that these scams only work when you give out your personal information,” said Cope.

Recipients of such fraudulent phone calls and mailings should under no circumstances agree to send money to the callers or give them bank account, credit card or other information. Rather, they are advised to contact PUD Customer Service at 360-532-4220 to verify the claim and to contact the office of their local law enforcement agency.


The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) announced today its rates for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, adopting a 5.4 percent average increase on wholesale power rates which will take effect Oct. 1, 2017.  The average transmission rate will see a decrease of 0.7 percent. BPA attributes the rate increase to a variety of factors, including a less than projected demand for power, lower market prices for surplus power sales and rising costs of compliance with legal mandates.

Utilities are affected differently by the rate increase based on the amount of power and services purchased from BPA.  This equates locally to an approximate 3.5 percent increase to Grays Harbor PUD power supply costs or around $3 million over the two year rate period.

“Although any rate adjustment will have an effect locally, we are pleased to see the increase is lower than the originally projected 9 percent,” said PUD General Manager Dave Ward. “Consumer-owned utilities were largely successful in communicating to the BPA that a higher increase would be a burden that public power utilities and their customers could not afford.” 

About 78 percent of the PUD’s power resources come from BPA and power supply is the largest cost in the District’s operations and maintenance budget.  While the PUD has adopted many internal cost-saving measures, BPA rate increases continue to be a significant challenge. 

“Grays Harbor PUD continues to monitor costs internally and reduce spending where it makes sense,” said Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Skolrood.  “We will analyze the financial implications of the BPA rate increase and determine how to best minimize the impact on our customers as we enter into 2018 budget discussions.”

Today, Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners passed a resolution in support of federal legislation that affirms the current operations under the existing Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Biological Opinion (BiOp). The legislation, H.R. 3144, supports the hydrosystem and the benefits it brings to the region through clean, renewable and affordable power. 


Hydropower provides 70 percent of Washington State’s renewable, affordable and reliable electricity and 60 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s electricity, with the majority of the power produced by the FCRPS.  Hydroelectric dams also provide many benefits to the region, including flood control, navigation, irrigation, and recreation.


Despite the success of the current FCRPS BiOp, in May 2016 the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon rejected the plan and directed the government to undertake a comprehensive review of hydro operations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Judge Simon strongly urged the federal agencies to include analysis of the removal, bypass or breaching of one or more of the four lower Snake River dams.


The proposed federal legislation would continue federal hydro operations under the current FCRPS BiOp through September 30, 2022, or until the court-ordered, comprehensive environmental NEPA process concludes, a new BiOp is in place, and judicial review is complete.  The legislation would prohibit studies, plans or structural modifications at the dams which would impair hydroelectric power generation or navigation on the Columbia River, which would create uncertainties in the Bonneville Power Administration’s power costs and supply and raise northwest electric customers’ rates.  It would also continue, as appropriate, the implementation of the plan’s measures to protect and restore salmon. 


“We appreciate the ongoing support of our legislators, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Greg Walden (R-OR), in proposing this bipartisan legislation,” said PUD Commissioner Arie Callaghan. “This Board supports the proposed legislation affirming the current operations under the exiting BiOp, which we believe provides a reasonable and workable compromise to both protecting the fish runs and providing the reliable and affordable hydropower that is of utmost importance to the utility and our customer-owners.”



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