Improved telecommunications services and cooperation between the Grays Harbor PUD, local schools and businesses and the Washington State Legislature were recognized on Thursday as the PUD made some of the final connections to the East County Fiber project.
“This is a big deal for the community and the Grays Harbor PUD” said PUD Core Services Director Rob Hanny. “In addition to providing options for new services and new service providers in the community, this project will improve the availability of broadband services for the Elma and Satsop school districts and businesses. This project also provides the potential for providing additional connectivity to Mason County and the I-5 corridor.”
“Broadband access used to be a luxury but now it is a critical part of any business and education plan,” said PUD Commissioner Arie Callaghan. “We are so grateful for our local legislators for their support of this critical piece of economic development for Grays Harbor.”
The $463,000.00 project was funded through a portion of the 2017-19 Capital Budget. State Representative Mike Chapman sponsored the request and, along with Representative Steve Tharinger and Senator Kevin Van De Wege, helped guide the request through the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. The funding allowed the PUD to cover the cost of materials and crew hours needed to string over five miles of fiber optic cable and other infrastructure to make connections to local businesses and school district facilities.
Tharinger and Chapman took part in Thursday’s ceremony at Elma Elementary School, congratulating the PUD for their leadership in telecommunications expansion in southwest Washington and trying their hand at splicing and connecting some of the final fiber strands. The 24th District representatives were joined on Thursday by Harbor Pacific Bottling’s Tim Martin and representatives of the Elma and Satsop School Districts, all entities that will see improved service.
In a resolution highlighting their value to the environment and economy of the Pacific Northwest, the Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have thrown their support behind the four hydroelectric dams on Eastern Washington’s Lower Snake River. In recent years, environmental groups have targeted the dams for removal.
On Monday, the board unanimously approved the resolution firmly stating that the “removal of elements of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS), including the Lower Snake River Dams would negatively impact the Grays Harbor Public Utility District’s responsibility to provide reliable, efficient, clean and affordable power to its customers.”
“Removing the Lower Snake Dams is bad for the county and the region. Locally they mean efficient energy at an affordable cost and greater energy reliability for Grays Harbor PUD customers,” said PUD Board President Russ Skolrood. “But to the region, especially Eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge, the impacts are even greater. They impact the lives of thousands of families through irrigation, flood control, navigable waterways and outdoor recreation.”
PUD Board Secretary Dave Timmons says that without the energy generated by the dams, the reliable flow of energy from the FCRPS would be threatened, a fact illustrated by a 2017 report from the Bonneville Power Administration.
“In January of 2017, when thousands of households across the Northwest needed power to stay warm, the output from wind generators varied from 3000 to 74 megawatts. Those are not numbers you can plan on to reliably power homes and businesses. At that same time, the Lower Snake Dams were generating nearly 1300 megawatts. To me that shows that one source can be counted on, the other can’t,” said Timmons.
Proponents of dam removal often cite the impact the dams have on the salmon runs that Puget Sound orca pods rely on for survival. PUD Board Vice President Arie Callaghan says numerous studies dispute that claim.
“Operators of hydroelectric facilities spend billions of dollars on programs to allow dams to coexist with the environment. Those programs have made a real difference, which shows me those dams and salmon can coexist,” said Callaghan. “To remove those dams would be a shortsighted error, driven by emotion rather than the facts.”
Studies carried out by several groups including NOAA Fisheries and the Environmental Protection Agency have shown that predation, ocean conditions, pollution and other factors have greater, far reaching effects on salmon over their lifespan than the relatively brief period they spend around hydroelectric dams.
The board’s resolution also highlighted the irony that comes from the State Legislature passing a bill calling for a 100% emissions free power system, while at the same time environmental groups are seeking to dismantle parts of the infrastructure that make it possible.
“Washington is leading the way in clean energy because of hydro power and yet there are those who would seek to cut the knees out of that system,” said Skolrood. “That makes no sense to me. We have made huge strides toward a 100% clean energy industry. Why in the world would we want to start moving backwards?”
Scammers are using new methods as they renew their calls to Grays Harbor PUD customers. PUD Customer Service staff have reported receiving phone calls from customers who were contacted by phone AND email threatening to shutoff power if immediate payment is not made on accounts they claim are delinquent. In some cases, the contacts include recorded utility voice messages and letterhead in an attempt to appear legitimate.
“It’s a different, more sophisticated method by these scammers but the PUD’s message remains unchanged: the scams only work if you volunteer your personal information," says Customer Service Director Katy Moore. "If you get an email or phone call threatening to shut off your power or containing account information you think is suspicious, call the PUD Customer Service office to report the scams and to check on your account status.”
Recipients of such fraudulent phone calls and mailings should under no circumstances agree to send money or give bank account, credit card or other personal information. Rather, customers are advised to immediately contact PUD Customer Service at 360-532-4220 to verify the claim.
Most stories of animals getting too close to power lines end badly for the animal, which is what makes what happened over the weekend in Moclips so wonderful. At 8:00 on Sunday morning. Derek Hnilica and Aaron Wallin were called to the 2700 block of SR 109 by a report of a cat stuck at the top of one of the PUD poles. When they arrived, they found the cat laying on a crossarm, 40 feet above the ground and just inches from live power lines. According to neighbors, the cat had been up the pole for many hours and would not come down because of barking dogs in nearby yards. Working with dispatchers, the service crew was able to de-energize the lines (briefly affecting power to Pacific Beach and Seabrook) and reached the cat using the utility service truck. Without suffering a scratch or bite, Hnilica was able to safely pluck the cat from it’s dangerous perch and return it to the relatively safe confines of terra firma proving beyond a doubt that the PUD’s outstanding customer service does not stop at two legged customers.
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers on the Sund Road, Delezenne Road and surrounding area of a planned power outage beginning at 9:00 AM on Thursday, May 2, 2019. The outage is expected to last until roughly 2:00 PM on that day and will affect around 100 customers.
The outage will affect customers on Sund Road, Delezenne Road, Raspberry Road, Mountain View Lane and Minot Peak. During the outage, PUD crews will replace an aging pole, hang new wire and carry out maintenance work. Impacted customers will be notified by phone in the days leading up to the outage.
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 five hours is only an estimate and power could be restored at anytime as work is completed. Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period.