The PUD has multiple COVID-19 Assistance Program for customers who need assistance paying their bills due to economic hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Disconnects for non-payment and late fees are currently suspended per Governor's Proclamation 20-23.7.

The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in downtown Aberdeen of a planned power outage impacting two city blocks.  The outage will begin at 10:00 PM on Thursday, June 17 and is expected to last until 4:00 AM on Friday, June 18 and will affect 20 customers.  The impacted areas will be the two blocks between Wishkah and Heron Streets, and Jefferson and “L” Streets.  All impacted customers will receive notification phone calls from the PUD.

The outage is part of a 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 duration of six 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.

After 13 years of service, Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood has announced he will resign from office at the end of June.  Skolrood was elected to serve a third term in November, however under state law, his retirement from the Hoquiam School District will prohibit him from drawing his retirement and salary as a PUD commissioner.

“This is a job I literally tried to do for free, but I’ve been told that’s not possible, so with great regret, I have to announce my decision to step down,” said Skolrood.  “What makes this a lot tougher is that I now have more time to dedicate to the PUD and its customers.  I have loved every minute of my time with the utility and want to thank the voters for their trust and confidence, my fellow commissioners for their counsel and friendship, and the PUD staff for their hard work and service to the community.”

Skolrood was first elected to the board in November of 2008.  During that time he served as board president, vice president and secretary, and helped the PUD navigate a number of significant events including the COVID pandemic, the implementation of the Energy Independence and Clean Energy Transformation Acts, the closure and clean-up of the Harbor Paper site, and he says most importantly, the appointment of two new general managers.

“Without a doubt, the appointment of Dave Ward and Schuyler Burkhart were the most significant decisions that I was a part of at the PUD,” said Skolrood.  “I think both of those managers were the right fit at the right time for the utility and their leadership and vision has made the PUD stronger, a better place to work and an asset for the Grays Harbor community.”

The remaining board members will begin the process of accepting applications and interviewing interested applicants from Grays Harbor’s District Three, which includes Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, North Beach and North Grays Harbor.  The Commission position will then appear on the General Election ballot in November of 2022. 

“When you serve on a PUD board, the work is never done.  You complete one task and move on and there are some big ones ahead,” said Skolrood.  “Working with our elected officials to come out of COVID in a way that minimizes a negative impact on our customers, making sure people know how important our clean energy system is, and renegotiating our Bonneville Power Administration contracts are all things I was looking forward to doing.  But I am confident that Commissioner Timmons, Callaghan and whomever takes my seat will work with the utility staff to get the job done.”

The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in North Beach of a planned power outage impacting Moclips, Pacific Beach, Seabrook and Taholah.  The outage will begin at 10:00 PM on Thursday, May 20 and is expected to last until 4:00 AM on Friday, May 21 and will affect nearly 1700 properties.  The impacted areas will include a portion of Ocean Beach Road, beginning at 2990 Ocean Beach Road north to the intersection with State Route 109 and customers and communities along State Route 109 from Chauncey Lane north to Taholah.  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 duration of six 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.

An increase in the number of storm and tree related outages in 2020 led to an increase in total power outages for the Grays Harbor PUD.  PUD crews responded to 345 outages, impacting 59,068 customers for a total of 186,224 hours.  Although all three totals represented an increase from 2019, the total hours and customers impacted fell well below the averages of the last five years. 

The main cause of the increase were storm, wind and tree related outages, accounting for 69% of the outages in 2020.  November proved to be one of the toughest months of the year, with three significant storm events accounting for 11,392 customers without power, or 19% of the yearly total.

“When you live on the coast of the Evergreen State, you need to take precautions for storms and falling trees and these numbers show just how important those investments are,” said PUD Commission President Russ Skolrood.  “Outage totals would be significantly higher without the PUD’s vegetation management efforts, the strength of our system and the skills of the professionals who respond to these outages and get the power back on as safely and as quickly as they can.”

This year the PUD invested $1.2-million in tree trimming, tree removal and mowing the right of ways around power lines to keep them clear of low hanging trees, branches and undergrowth.

“We need to continue to focus on vegetation management and strengthening the PUD system,” said General Manager Schuyler Burkhart.  “If you look at areas where the PUD has made a major investment in the past, you see that the number of outages have gone down.  Our capital budget will continue to focus on areas of need and ensure that system improvements will increase the reliability of the services we provide to our customers.”

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have approved a resolution authorizing a 2% increase for its electrical customers, going into effect at the beginning of June.  The increase was included in the 2021 budget which was passed last November, but was not enacted during the high energy usage winter months.  In addition, the delay allowed the utility to complete its financial analysis for 2020 and the first months of 2021.

“The decision to raise rates is not one that the Board takes lightly and comes only after a detailed examination of the PUD’s financial state,” said PUD Board President Russ Skolrood.  “With power purchases making up 70% of our budget, the two-percent increase recommended by utility staff is the lowest practical amount that will allow the PUD to cover those costs and continue the critical service our customers rely upon for their homes and businesses.”   

“This is not a decision that we enjoy making and it is never an easy one,” said PUD Board Vice President Arie Callaghan.  “But costs continue to rise and we have a responsibility to operate the utility in a safe and reliable manner.”

The increase will be the first rate adjustment by the utility in two years.  The PUD Board chose not to increase rates in 2020 in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, the utility delayed implementing the increase until the beginning of June, rather than the beginning of May as was originally scheduled.

“I am glad we were able to delay this increase until the spring and push it back by one month to June 1st,” said PUD Board Secretary Dave Timmons.  “I understand that this will impact all our customers during an already difficult time, but small annual adjustments like these that cover increasing costs are the responsible way to go since they help the PUD cover costs and avoid making larger increases that can have a greater impact on our customer’s budgets.”

The utility’s system charge of $39.00 will not be increased.  The charge is paid monthly by every PUD residential customer to cover system maintenance and repair, and is adjusted by recommendation of a cost of service study conducted by an independent, outside agency.