An annual review of the Grays Harbor PUD accountability and financial statements resulted in no findings and a strong report on the financial workings and accountability of the utility.
“This report makes me very proud of the staff of the Grays Harbor PUD,” said PUD Commission Secretary Dave Timmons. “These reviews and reports from the state tell our customers that their trust is well placed and that their utility is in the hands of a professional and responsible staff.”
In closing the month long review on Tuesday, representatives of the Washington State Auditor’s Office commended the utility for its accountability and transparency in areas including procurement, accounts receivable, cash receipting, accounts payable, financial condition and fiscal sustainability and open public meetings.
In the review of financial statements, the Auditors office reported that the utility financial statements were presented fairly and “in accordance with the accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”
“You guys really are running a top notch shop here,” said State Auditor Audit Lead Jordan Coleman.
The Grays Harbor PUD prides itself on the affordability, safety and reliability of its power. However, a fourth element worth noting is the environmental stewardship the PUD achieves through the clean energy provided to our customers. In the same year in which lawmakers voted through a 100% Clean Energy bill, the Grays Harbor PUD can proudly boast a fuel mix which is over 98% carbon free (2017 Fuel Mix Disclosure, Washington State Department of Commerce).
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in the area of Bush Creek Road between Elma and McCleary, of a planned power outage beginning at 9:30 AM on Thursday, July 11, 2019. The outage is expected to last until 2:00 PM on that day and will affect roughly 60 customers.
Those impacted are residents of Bush Creek Road, Bush Creek Lane, Packard Lane, Prairie Place, Cedar Place, Maple Lane, Furford Lane and House Lane. Impacted customers will receive a notification phone call from the PUD.
During the outage, PUD crews will replace aging poles and restring power lines in the impacted area.
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 and a half 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.
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?”