Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam is the site of a new mobile hotspot installed by the Grays Harbor PUD and other partners. Users can either walk or drive into the parking lot of the Cherry Street landmark, choose the “homeworkhub” Wi-Fi network on their mobile device and receive free access to the PUD fiber network for business, school and a host of other needs.
“Many organizations have come together to make this happen in Grays Harbor and around the state,” said PUD Core Services Director Rob Hanny, whose office oversees the PUD Telecommunications department. “With students headed back to school with remote classrooms, it serves as a reminder of just how important access to online services are.”
The Olympic Stadium site, offered by the City of Hoquiam, joins three drive-up sites that were installed in May at the McCleary City Hall, the Wishkah Valley School, and the Satsop School. Equipment for the four sites has been provided to the utility free of charge by the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, a private, industry funded disaster relief organization while the bandwidth is being offered by Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet).
The local access is part of a larger, statewide effort to provide free Wi-Fi access to Washington residents that began at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partners in the state’s drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots project include: Washington State University; Washington State Library, part of the Washington Office of the Secretary of State; members of the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) and NoaNet; the Washington State Broadband Office; Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA); Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech); and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
To date, well over 100 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state. All told, some 600 public hotspots will soon be available to keep Washington communities connected.
For complete information and a map of locations, visit www.driveinwifi.wa.gov. The map will be updated as more sites come online.
Grays Harbor PUD General Manager Dave Ward has announced he will retire from the utility in the spring of 2021. To ensure a smooth transition, in the coming months, the PUD will begin the process of hiring a new General Manager who will assume managerial duties when Ward departs.
“This job has been a chance for me to come home and work in the community where I grew up and that I deeply care for,” said Ward, a 1979 graduate of Aberdeen’s J.W. Weatherwax High School. “As I look back on the last seven years and all the PUD has accomplished, I am filled with a deep sense of pride and appreciation for the dedicated staff that has allowed the utility to move forward and fulfill our mission to our customers.”
Ward came to the PUD as General Manager in June of 2013. Prior to accepting the post, he had worked at Tacoma Public Power since 1997, first as the Assistant Transmission and Distribution Manager and then (in 2007) the Transmission and Distribution Manager. Before that, he had worked at California’s Pacific Gas and Electric and the Grays Harbor PUD, following his graduation from Washington State University. Through all those positions, he always kept an eye on his hometown and dreamt of the chance to come back.
“You talk about the right person coming along at the right time,” said PUD Commission President Russ Skolrood. “When Dave arrived at the PUD, you could feel his energy and his passion take hold and begin to spread. He has been a leader, a mentor and a friend to our staff and our community and I am so grateful for all he has helped us to accomplish.”
In the coming months, the utility will begin the process of replacing Ward by bringing on the new General Manager to work with Ward and the board in the months leading up to his departure.
“Our job now is to ensure a smooth transition,” said Skolrood. “We got the right fit for the job when we hired Dave. We need to do that again for our customers and our staff.”
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers of a planned power outage on the Newskah Rd. at 9:30 AM on Thursday, August 20, 2020. The outage is expected to last until 1:30 PM on that day and will affect roughly 20 customers. Those impacted are residents on Newskah Rd., starting at 320 Newskah Rd and going to the end of the line. All impacted customers will receive a notification phone call from the PUD.
The outage is part of an ongoing project by the PUD to conduct system 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 four 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.
The Grays Harbor PUD has released the following statement of the release of the final Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement(EIS), which recognizes the value of hydropower to the Pacific Northwest and the Lower Snake River Dams:
“Four years of testimony from stakeholders, examination of the best science available, and consideration of opinions from every conceivable position have led to the this document, which recognizes the value of the hydroelectric system to the Pacific Northwest, the importance of the Lower Snake River dams to that system, and offers a compromise solution that addresses the natural environment and the needs of our region.
“The EIS directly addresses the false claims that the Lower Snake River Dams are obsolete, not critical to the regions energy system and can be easily removed. The EIS also recognizes the impacts that the hydroelectric system has on salmon runs, but offers a reasonable, data-backed compromise solution of increased spill and mitigation efforts that will aid in salmon recovery while allowing utilities to keep the lights on throughout the region.
“While the increased spill to aid in fish migration recommended in the final document may mean a decrease in energy production and an increase in Bonneville Power Administration wholesale rates, the impacts of those concessions are far less than the devastating impacts that would come with the removal of the four Lower Snake River Dams. The dams are a critical component not only of the regions energy system, but also to surrounding areas economic, recreational, and agricultural well-being.
“The Grays Harbor PUD thanks the Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Reclamation for their diligent work on this important subject and for the inclusive nature of the EIS process which allowed the opinions of all parties to shape a reasonable and acceptable path forward.”
Grays Harbor PUD has taken steps to help customers who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since April, the PUD has suspended late fees, residential disconnects, and postponed our rate increase. We are committed to helping our customers through this difficult time.
We feel it is important that our customers know assistance is available to those directly impacted by Covid-19. A bill insert was included in June’s customer bills letting customers know how to receive assistance and the eligibility criteria.
We have continued to contact customers by phone, mail or encouragement to contact us through a bill insert. In July, the District began an outreach program for customer’s we had not been able to reach. A district representative started physically going to customer’s homes to explain the different options available for assistance or extended pay arrangements.
The Grays Harbor PUD has partnered with community agencies to help our customers find assistance. Coastal Community Action Program works with eligible customers to help them get assistance with their power bills. They have received additional funds to help customers who have been directly affected by COVID 19 who have already received LIHEAP funds this year. Customers should contact CCAP at 360-533-5100 to see if they qualify for the program.
The Grays Harbor PUD has created a Pandemic Assistance Program for customers directly impacted by COVID-19. Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties should contact customer service to see if they qualify.
Additionally, we are working with our customers to help extend normal pay arrangements, giving eligible customers more time to pay off their past due balances. We also offer budget billing and a senior disabled discount program. Customers should call customer service to get more information on what program will be right for them.
Contact customer service at:
360-532-4220 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org