In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Grays Harbor PUD has announced that it will close its Customer Service and Energy Services lobby to public access, effective Monday, March 16 at 8:00 AM. The utility will maintain regular staffing and hours with customer service being provided through the drive thru window, telephone communications and online and mobile device access.
“The PUD provides a critical public service and we will continue to do so,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “By limiting face to face access, we are following CDC recommendations on how to limit the spread of the virus, while still serving our customers.”
Beginning Monday, customers wishing to speak to a customer service representative or to pay their utility bill will have the following options:
- Calling the Customer Service Department at (360) 532-4220 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
- Making the payment through the drive-thru window, located on the east side of the PUD’s Sumner Avenue Administration Building
- Dropping payments in the payment drop box located in the main parking lot of the Administration Building
- Making payments online at www.ghpud.org or using the SmartHub app on mobile devices
Customers wishing to speak with the Energy Services Department or learn more about offers through the department may do so by calling (360) 538-6383 or by clicking on the “Energy Savings” icon at www.ghpud.org.
Customers wishing to speak to the Engineering Department may call (360) 538-6524 to be connected to a Customer Service Engineer.
Utility operations crews will continue field work and respond to power outages and will continue to make power restorations in the safest and quickest manner possible.
The Grays Harbor PUD has taken measures to continue to provide essential utility services to customers, should the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the county worsen. For the time being, utility operations will continue as usual with the Customer Service office and drive thru open from 8am-5pm on weekdays, however we do encourage customers to contact Customer Service by phone at (360) 532-4220 or use online/mobile access at www.ghpud.org when possible. Forms and utility information are also available online.
In the event of a worsening situation, the utility is considering methods to conduct customer interactions while respecting “social distancing” precautions. This may include exclusive use of the customer service drive thru window and payment drop box for onsite business. Customers may also continue to access account information and make payments using the SmartHub online system and the SmartHub app. Should you have any questions, please contact Customer Service at (360) 532-4220 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
Utility field operations will continue with crews responding to power outages and making restorations as safely and quickly as possible.
At this time, it is recommended customers follow CDC recommendations such as:
- Stay home when you’re sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects
- Follow social distancing protocols and avoid people who are sick
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District has released the following statement on the publication of the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):
“The environmental impact statement released today contains thousands of pages of scientific data and will take time to thoroughly assess. However, a review of the Executive Summary finds that the statement rejects the potentially disastrous removal of the four Lower Snake River Dams and recognizes the vital role the dams play in Washington’s clean and reliable energy system. The Grays Harbor PUD looks forward to taking part in the EIS public comment period and helping to maintain the role Washington state has played in the area of clean, reliable and renewable energy.”
Citing their importance to system reliability and resource adequacy, the Grays Harbor PUD has offered comments on a state report concerning the Lower Snake River Dams.
The report was the result of a state funded, $750,000 study into the feasibility of maintaining the four Lower Snake River Dams. As sections of the report called into question the dam’s value in terms of the regions power system and costs of maintenance, the PUD jumped to their defense with a response backed by scientific reports from NOAA Fisheries, the Public Power Council, the Bonneville Power Administration and other agencies.
“With production of over 1000 average megawatts of clean and reliable energy (enough energy to power roughly 800,000 homes), the dams have been identified by the Bonneville Power Administration as a key component of the FCRPS (Federal Columbia River Power System) mission of supporting peak power generation,” the PUD response stated.
In terms of timing, the utility response highlighted the retirement of coal generated power facilities in Oregon, Montana and Washington and the loss of over 3000 megawatts of energy in the coming years as ample reason to maintain the reliable power generated by the dams.
“Without reliable resources to replace that energy, a growing population and increased energy use in the residential, commercial and transportations sectors, the region faces the possibility of an energy shortfall, similar to the one that struck the West Coast in 2000-2001. Given that fact, we firmly believe that now is not the time to remove base load resources from the FCRPS.”
The utility comments also touched on the dam’s role in moving the state toward a 100% clean energy portfolio, as required by the passage of last year’s Clean Energy Transformation Act.
“With a goal of 100% clean energy by 2045, the loss of the clean, emission free energy produced by the dams would deal that goal a severe blow and perhaps force the state to seek energy on the market from emitting resources, thereby working against legislation brought about by cooperation and compromise.”
While the state report emphasized that new energy technologies like wind and solar generation may one day be able to fill the void left by the dams removal, the PUD response reminded the authors that new generation has questionable reliability; something hydropower can help to rectify.
“With the clean and reliable energy resources provided by the FCRPS, the energy exists to allow innovation and invention to run its course and for new resources to be perfected and take their place in an integrated energy system that will allow Washington to continue its role as a leader in clean and renewable energy.”
In addition to energy issues, the PUD response also cited the important role the dams play in the everyday life of residents of southeast Washington, including irrigation for farming, navigation for freight and recreational shipping and recreation for thousands of boaters, fisherman, swimmers and campers.
For over 30 years, PUD staff, led by substation and automation engineers have been working to bring all the utility substations under monitoring and control of the “supervisory control and data acquisition” or SCADA system. On January 23rd they reached that goal. With the update to the Central Park substation, all of the utility transmission and distribution substations can now be monitored and controlled by dispatchers in the PUD Power House.
“For our customers, this means we have the ability to do a faster diagnosis of issues on the utility system and to respond quickly,” said PUD Substation Engineering Supervisor Chris Eide.
“This is a great moment for the PUD,” said Engineering Director Schuyler Burkhart. “It’s the result of years of work by engineers, technicians, journeymen, and District employees who worked together to provide this very useful capability on our system.”