Grant PUD looks forward to more growth
Grant Public Utility District has an enviable position among power prodcuers, with a growing customer base. While Grant PUD is facing some large capital projects, in the future, capital costs will decline, according to General Manager Kevin Nordt.
Nordt presented the upbeat view in a fast-paced presentation loaded with facts at the Quincy Rotary Club on June 29 as a guest speaker. He characterized Grant PUD’s position in the broader energy market as very good, with its ability to produce and deliver an abundance of “flexible clean energy.”
The core mission of Grant PUD he summed up as local control, plus low rates, plus high reliability. While providing an overview of Grant PUD operations and finances, he also gave some interesting details and answered questions.
The two major dams of Grant PUD, Wanapum and Priest Rapids, are naturally aging, he said, and so they require major investments. Such investments naturally put pressure on rates charged to customers, and Grant PUD therefore watches its pennies and focuses on delivering value.
Grant PUD has four major projects underway: The construction in the Crescent Bar area of recreation facilities; design and construction of both new and replacement electrical infrastructure; hydro turbine and generator replacements (the two dams have 10 turbines and generators each); and developing an advanced meter program.
The meter program, Nordt said, means moving away from meter readers and will help with reliability.
Replacement of the turbines at the dams is going well, and he assured the audience that the equipment had been well used and the new machinery will hold up for decades.
While in the process of some large outlays presently, capital costs in 2017 are $180 million. In the next few years, capital costs are projected to decline dramatically, he said, forecasting they will decline to $87 million in 2021.
One factor buoying Grant PUD’s outlook is customer growth and demand for electricity locally. The customer count is rising, now at about 47,000, Nordt said.
Notably, growth in the utility’s set of industrial customers benefits the overall customer base. Chuck Allen, with Grant PUD public affairs, explained that growth in the industrial rate class of customers brought Grant PUD a gain of about $150 million from 2004 to 2013. That revenue has helped to keep electricity rates lower for the rest of Grant PUD’s rate classes and customers.
In other PUD business, a new transmission line is set to be built along State Route 17, between Moses Lake and Ephrata. The 115-kilovolt line will connect Rocky Ford Substation, north of SR 17 near Rocky Ford Creek, with the Dover Substation, in northeast Moses Lake, on Patton Boulevard. The new transmission line will feature “143 single pole structures” across about 8 miles, running on the north side of SR 17, Grant PUD announced recently.
The project will improve reliability and meet growing demand for power, Grant PUD said. The new line is expected to be completed this year and cost $7.95 million.
By Dave Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant PUD reduces cost for voluntary purchase of alternative energy resources
Grant PUD commissioners voted on June 27 to lower the price for customers wanting to buy qualified renewable energy resource attributes on top of their regular power bills. In related action, the commissioners also approved a method for customers to purchase renewable energy certificates, as well as power from a specific generation source, Grant PUD said in a press release.
Grant PUD has an obligation under Washington state law (RCW 19.29A) to provide its customers with an opportunity to buy from qualified alternative energy resources. Costs in Rate Schedule 13 were lowered from $2 per 100 kilowatt-hour block to 75 cents per 100 kWh block. The new price is more in line with changes to market conditions since Rate Schedule 13 was first adopted, in 2001.
Commissioners also approved two additions to Rate Schedule 13. Rate Schedule 13REC allows for customers to purchase National Green-e Certified and Washington Qualified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) with a minimum transaction of 1,000 megawatt-hour blocks. Rate Schedule 13SS allows for customers to make a minimum purchase for 1,000 megawatt-hour blocks of specified-source generation energy attributes. The cost to buy blocks of power in Rate Schedule 13REC and 13SS will be based on current market rates and availability and will include an administrative fee to cover Grant PUD’s expenses, Grant PUD said.
These changes give customers access to renewable energy sources. Any purchases made in Rate Schedule 13 are in addition to what customers would normally pay on their monthly Grant PUD power bill.
“With these changes, we can better partner with our customers to meet their needs as they seek to achieve their sustainability goals by leveraging our staff’s knowledge and capability,” Dave Churchman, Grant PUD’s chief customer officer, said in a press release. “Our customers have told us this is an important service they require, and we are glad to meet their needs.”
For more information, call Grant PUD at 509-766-2505.
By Post-Register Staff