The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is again warning its customers to be aware of a phone scam in which callers are posing as PUD employees and threatening to shutoff the customer’s power, unless they immediately pay overdue accounts.
PUD Chief Financial Officer Doug Streeter says the PUD has received several reports from businesses and individuals who have received calls from people claiming to be employees of the PUD.
“Scammers continue to target customers of many businesses, including the Grays Harbor PUD,” said Streeter. “If you receive a call demanding immediate payment, please do not give the caller any information. Instead you should hang up and immediately contact PUD Customer Service at (360) 532-4220. Under no circumstances should you make a payment of any kind to callers without first checking to see that they are legitimate representatives of the PUD who can verify your account information and exact amount of money you owe.”
This is the latest in a string of phone scam attempts involving the PUD and other businesses. Law enforcement agencies say their offices have received similar reports of callers claiming to represent television and phone providers, public utilities and magazine companies, demanding immediate payment. Other scams include forged bills and parking tickets left on cars and in mail boxes. Recipients of such fraudulent calls and mailings are advised to first contact company officials to verify the claim and to contact the office of your local law enforcement agency.
All lanes of State Route 12 east of Aberdeen at Baila Dip will be closed intermittently between 10pm on Thursday, Aug. 28th and 4am on Friday, Aug. 29th. The closures are part of ongoing line maintenance and pole replacement work by Grays Harbor PUD line crews.
The intermittent closures will be between milepost 1.6 and milepost 2.07 and are expected to last 10 to 20 minutes each. Drivers are advised to use alternate routes during the impacted time.
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District has announced a planned power outage which will impact PUD customers in the South Beach area of Grays Harbor County. The outage will begin at 10:00 PM on September 11, 2014 and is expected to last until 6:00 AM on September 12.
The outage will impact all Grays Harbor PUD customers after the Ocean Spray facility in Markham west to the ocean beaches and south to Tokeland. In all 4,837 Grays Harbor PUD customers will be impacted.
During the outage, multiple PUD crews will replace three transmission poles and one distribution switch in addition to carrying out substation maintenance work. This is the fourth planned outage undertaken by PUD crews this summer, as the District strengthens its infrastructure by replacing aging poles and carrying out line and substation maintenance.
In preparation for this outage, customers are advised to take precautions with any electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, and microwaves by unplugging those items. You should leave them disconnected until after the power has been fully restored.
The outage time of eight hours is only an estimate and power could be restored at any time as work is completed. Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period of time.
Costs saving efforts continue to benefit the customers of the Grays Harbor PUD. Rather than contract for the removal of the sludge lining the bottom of the Harbor Paper primary clarifier, the PUD will rent trucks and hire drivers to handle the shipment of the wastewater byproducts to a landfill in Cowlitz County.
"From the beginning, our goal has been to fulfill our Harbor Paper responsibilities while having the lowest possible impact on our customers," said General Manager Dave Ward. "By self-hauling the primary clarifier sludge, the PUD will save over $450-thousand. That moves us toward the fulfillment of that goal."
Earlier this year, the PUD partnered with the City of Hoquiam to pump millions of gallons of treated water from the primary clarifier into the Hoquiam sewage treatment system. When the water had been removed, what remained were several tons of sediment in the form of sludge, which the PUD is required to dispose of. After receiving a proposal for the shipment and disposal of the sludge (based on estimates for hauling over 12,000 tons of waste), the Special Projects Manager John Pellegrini examined the possibility of self-hauling the sludge and found the cost estimates to be considerably lower than other alternatives.
In the interest of saving money, the PUD and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W.) Local Union 77 worked together to create two new temporary positions that will transport of the bulk materials away from the Harbor Paper site. Through that process, in the coming months PUD hired drivers will make two trips per day in rented trucks, gradually moving the sludge to the Cowlitz County Landfill, one of two Washington landfills equipped to handle the waste product.
“We knew there were going to be costs associated with our Harbor Paper responsibilities, “said Ward. “Our goal has been to find the lowest possible cost and the efforts of District staff including John Pellegrini, our legal department and representatives and members of I.B.E.W. Local Union 77 have allowed us to do that.”
The PUD has begun to advertise for truck rental and is hiring drivers and loader operators. Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit the Grays Harbor PUD website at ghpud.org or to contact the Grays Harbor PUD temporary job line at 538-6237 or 1-800-562-7726, ext. 6237, for further information.
While the wind storms that come with life on the Washington coast are not common in the spring and summer, the rapid growth of trees and plants can quietly threaten power lines just as much as a gale; but not if Jeff McClain has anything to say about it. McClain is charged with heading up the PUD’s vegetation management efforts; no small task when you consider the size of the district.
“We have about 1,100 miles of distribution lines and 225 miles of transmission lines and about half of them have trees growing under or next to them,” said McClain, a second generation PUD worker whose father and brother work for electric utilities. “Trees grow very quickly here. It’s an ongoing battle.”
PUD lines are threatened both by tree branches falling from above and trees growing up from below. Overhanging branches can be weighted down by snow or blown down by wind, sending them crashing into the lines and knocking out power to hundreds of customers. Trees growing into the power lines can cause a fire hazard and pose a threat to anyone who climbs or touches them. Using PUD crews and professional tree trimmers, McClain and his team cut, mow and spray around the lines to keep those threats from getting out of hand.
“We have bucket crews that trim branches up to 65 feet and ground cutting crews that get to those areas that are harder for the bucket teams to reach,” said McClain. “During the spring and summer we also spray around substations, facilities and right-of-ways just to keep that growth at bay.”
In addition to working on scheduled trimming of fast growing trees, McClain responds to several calls per day from PUD customers who are concerned with trees and branches that they believe may be threatening their power lines.
“If it’s a danger to our lines we will take care of it,” said McClain. “If we don’t do preventative maintenance like this, outages would go up considerably. We’re never going to stop all of it, but we can slow it down. It’s something we have to do”
Should you have any questions on the PUD vegetation management, call 360-538-6284.