September 18, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Jack G. led the flag salute.
Brian Graff from Sequim and Janet Marks from Port Angeles.
Edna moved to accept Sept. 11th meeting minutes, seconded by Paul M. Motion passed.
There was discussion regarding PABA sending a letter supporting proposed Medicare cuts affecting OMC. Jack G moved that PABA submit a letter of support, Debbie F seconded. Motion passed.
Edna talked about the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village. They are using $35K in lodging tax, Lakeside Industries is prepping the lot, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is loaning their large tent, Andrew May is in charge of designing the decor. It is community working together to make this happen. Jim Haguewood added they are working with the school districts to bring kids in at $5 during school. The rink can be rented for company events. $100 from 1,000 people will make it happen. The rink will be open for 6 weeks and if successful enough, next year they can buy their own rink.
Stan moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes, seconded by Edna. Motion passed.
Program: Incumbent Ted Simpson and candidate Jim Waddell for PUD Commissioner
Matthew explained the rules: 5 minutes for opening remarks, 3 minutes each per question. 1 minute each for rebuttal.
Jim W (JW) spent 35 years with the Army Corps of Engineers. For the past 5-6 years he has been researching hydro in the PNW and retired 7-8 years ago. The cost of dams is expensive and there is a large amount of surplus power in the PNW. BPA is selling surplus power to CA keeping our rates down. Markets have shifted. Surplus power is being sold at a loss now. We pay CA to take it now. Bonneville is in trouble with a debt to asset ratio of 99%. PUD is about 60% of our power bill. Their strategic plan is not strategic. The 1940 charter says PUD wanted to reduce power rates and compel electric companies to reduce their rates. His background in hydro and other sources of energy is why he’s running. He’s asked what are we doing to compel electric companies? He will work with other PUD commissioners. Bonneville rates have been going up, open market is going down. Theoretically we should be trying to reduce rates.
Ted S (TS) operated a business in Port Angeles for 50+ years, was born and raised here. There were 5 agencies PUD approached to work with. Bonneville has been in trouble for years. He defends Bonneville, they do a lot for Clallam County. They follow our load and provide transmission.
Peggy asked what the pros and cons are of solar and wind power.
TS: Those forms of energy are intermittent and they need to back it up. Solar doesn’t work at night, to date they don’t have efficient storage.
JW: Hydro is intermittent, too. WA has fantastic hydro power capability. 9000mw were introduced to the grid, that energy is competitive with hydro power and is driving down wholesale rates of power. Reduced CA surplus is dropping the price of power and the imbalance could be a benefit. The biggest load is summer peaks, solar would be great for eastern WA. For every mw we don’t have to buy from BPA it is a savings.
Kaj asked about the renewable energy initiative and if it is good as it stands, and about carbon tax.
JW: Carbon tax is a good opportunity to do what the bill says by balancing all resources. Wind and solar are excellent as renewable sources.
TS: The initiative is not a tax but a fee that transfers funds to low income and disadvantaged tribes. He opposes 1651, it is confusing. PUD has met the requirements and can only do so much conservation. PUD won’t get credit for energy saved in the future and is held back.
JW: That’s where taking initiative comes in. How can PUD optimize renewable resources internally and integrate them as quickly as possible. They should build resiliency in the grid. The more we have makes us less dependent on waiting for Bonneville.
TS: For residential solar is fine, if the system is down.
George asked about the long term growth of electric cars.
TS: It is a no brainer, people want to charge cars at home. Problems are locations, types of cars/plugs/adapters, and the public needs to get involved.
JW: NW Power Council reported an increase and he is predicting demand increase but because of conservation and renewables actual demand has not risen. The marketplace will take care of electric infrastructure just like the intro of gas cars.
TS: Was hoping for direction instead of chaos. If we convert from gas to electric how will it have an impact on the system. We can’t remove hydro yet.
JW: Bonneville has too much hydro power. They need to figure which hydro should be decommissioned to make others more efficient. The problem for years is accepting the status quo. They are salesmen and we want to compel them to make business decisions.
Jon asked how much influence Clallam PUD can have on Bonneville.
JW: Has submitted a proposal on how to reduce a billion in debt using a credit swap with US Treasury. He’d work with other PUDs and associations. That’s where he would exert leadership to put pressure on Bonneville.
TS: They have collectively tried to get together and influence Bonneville. Each year is a battle over increases, it is not unreasonable to see increases in an aging system that needs maintenance. The price of electricity is going to go up and the NW has the cheapest and cleanest power in the US. 95% of power is green, 10% nuclear, 85% hydro.
JW: Hydro is getting more expensive and other sources are getting cheaper. The idea that rates have to go up is wrong. Cheaper power is out there.
Jack asked about the background on BC Hydro.
JW: It’s complicated because of the Columbia River treaty. We are sending power to BC Hydro to make up for their inability to provide power due to flood control.
TS: There was a proposal for an underwater feeder from Vancouver BC to here. They don’t generate enough to serve the load they have now. BC Hydro’s plan financially fell apart.
John B asked about the biggest challenge for Clallam PUD within 5 years.
TS: We have an aging system. The transmission line to Forks is from the early 60’s with a lot of wooden poles and a single line. They are changing poles from the airport to Laird Rd. There will be an impact on our utilities with the advent of electric vehicles.
JW: We’re spending more and more on paying Bonneville for power instead of us spending money on the ability to provide service. Our total power bills are not that much cheaper than the rest of the country and they have natural gas.
TS: It’s difficult to compare other sources of energy. People use wood. We still have the cheapest power.
JW: Bonneville is sitting on $16B of debt. When does the debt get called? We’ll have increases when Bonneville has to charge for their debt reduction.
Kevin asked what portion of utility costs are represented by maintenance / distribution of power and cost of acquiring of power?
JW: About 60% is the cost for acquiring versus internal operating costs from what he could learn by reviewing financials.
TS: A rule of thumb is 50/50 but it is not currently. There are budget increases each year, more customers, more expenses. Transfer the same thought to our national debt when you think about Bonneville. It’s not a good idea but that’s what we have.
A guest asked why the wind farm wasn’t pursued after spending money with Pacific and Grays Harbor.
TS: They have not talked about funds from the VW settlement. Pacific County was threatened by the environmental community with a lawsuit if they continued.
JW: The PUD should take every opportunity to find a viable resource. Much could be done with their fleet of vehicles. They need to build resiliency.
JW: He has been a public servant all his life and has invested thousands of hours of research in to power implications. BPA administration is panicking saying it’s time to sell their airplane to make up the deficit. His expertise as an engineer gives him the opportunity to do something as a rate payer and public servant. We have resources.
TS: He chose to run because of all of the challenges that face the utility company. He is proud of what they’ve done so far.
Meeting adjourned at 8:41am.