Manager’s Message

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Manager’s Message – June 2021

Construction Season for You and the PUD

Greetings,

Roger KlineYou will notice more and more inspection and construction work from Northern Wasco County PUD crews and our contractors as the weather warms and our typical construction season ramps up.

Utility pole inspection, testing, and treatment are critically important because much of your electrical system is transmitted and distributed via overhead lines. Let me remind you that yard sale and lost pet signs, as important as they are, do not belong on utility poles. This is for the safety of crews and the public, as well as longevity of infrastructure and management of overall operating costs.

It is hard to believe we’re already halfway through 2021. We look forward to reopening our River Road offices to daily customer traffic, so keep doing your part to get us to that milestone.

Enjoy the sunshine and be safe as you head outdoors. Please be cautious of your individual wildfire mitigation responsibilities as well as using 811 Call Before You Dig services to ensure your home projects are completed safely.

Best,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Message – April 2021

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” —William Shakespeare

Roger KlineThe assault on the Federal Columbia River Power System continues. Some of it is warranted. Most is not. We need state and federal collaboration and direct engagement to sustainably stabilize power rates, grid reliability, and aquatic species recovery.

Merriam-Webster defines sustainable as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

I am a strong supporter of the sustainable properties of hydropower generation. It is the original renewable power resource that provides our customers and region with reliable, carbon-free electricity. As our region’s stakeholders continue to pursue the balance of hydropower, recreation, shipping economics, and aquatic-species recovery, efforts have put you and the rest of the region’s electric consumers—the sole financial payers in this morass—on an unsustainable path.

The federal government committed through the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to balance reliability, economics, and environmental stewardship. During the past 20 years, public power preference prices have gone up about 100%. This has not been borne on the backs of the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, or the Bonneville Power Administration, but solely on the preference customers of the region.

On top of these staggering economics, we continue to see the continued degradation of the power system capability. As the power sector looks to early retirement of coal and further decarbonizing the power sector, capacity—the ability to generate power regardless of weather conditions—is becoming a threatened species.

Removing dispatchable capacity resources without replacing them in-kind is not sustainable, as demonstrated in California last August and Texas in February.

This issue has diverged into two distinct paths. Path No. 1 was collaborative work done in the region and overseen by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to improve fish passage and in-river survival.

Path No. 2 has been constant and consistent court intervention, producing less power generation, less capacity, and increasing costs.

Regardless of path, this economic and system reliability burden is placed on you, our customers, and not the federal government, which committed to balancing these issues.

It is also noteworthy that neither path has led to full aquatic species recovery.

I seek a path for the federal government to stand on its commitment to maintain this balance of reliability, economics, and environmental stewardship. I seek a path where Oregon doesn’t return to past practice and be part of the litigious merry-go-round that negatively impacts both you and the environment. It is sad and intellectually dishonest that they have chosen this path again.

I do not support breaching or removing the four lower Snake River dams because it is simply a stupid choice from a power system, economics, and environmental perspective. But if raising this option at the federal level is the vehicle to meaningful engagement by the Northwest delegation—and real collaboration from Salem—then it was worth the time and energy expended.

Onward,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Message – March 2021

Colder Temperatures and Higher Bills

Roger Kline We were fortunate to energize the newly reconstructed Tygh Valley Substation before the snow returned to the area last month. As I was appreciating that fact—and all the excellent work by staff and contractor community that kept your electric service safe and reliable during that same weather system—I was reminded to take one more opportunity to share with you what this weather can mean to your electricity consumption.

Average ambient temperatures dropped during the weather system of February 10. (It’s still here as I write this.) Even though I have not adjusted my thermostat, my heating system has required more energy to accomplish the same task as days prior. More energy consumed equals a higher bill. Visually, it can be expressed in the chart.

Graph showing how energy use is high even with higher temperatures

This is the actual energy consumption data from my home in The Dalles. I accessed this information from my personal account on our web portal. You can do the same thing for your account to see your consumption. You also can retrieve this information from the Northern Wasco County PUD app. I fully admit this likely excites me way more than it does you!

We are working hard to keep the near-zero carbon power flowing safely, reliably, and affordably to you. Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work diligently to provide electric utility products and services in the most value-conscious manner possible on your behalf.

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay healthy!

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Message – February 2021

Monitoring for Legislative Changes

Greetings,

Roger KlineNorthern Wasco County PUD continues to strive to ensure affordability of the near-zero carbon-based electric service it provides.

Your locally elected board of directors, staff, and I attentively monitor the actions in Salem and Washington, D.C., to see how any proposed legislative action may impact us and the provision of the safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric service we all depend on. We find it important to engage in the legislative process early to try to influence policy where we can on your behalf.

Whether it relates to pandemic response, environmental attributes of our hydroelectric systems, fish and wildlife recovery programs, infrastructure reinvestment, income-qualified customer support, or even cybersecurity, we have a stake in ensuring unintended consequences are not realized.

Please visit our website to learn more about our various programs. Much more information is also available in the board of directors’ meeting agenda and attachments.

Best to all,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Report — January 2021

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Greetings,

Roger Kline

As we begin this new year, I remind you that cold weather tends to increase your electrical consumption—and your PUD bills. We have friends and neighbors who could use our help.

The cost per unit of measurement—kilowatt-hours—is only one aspect of your bill. The amount of energy used via energy consumption is what can make an energy bill larger from one season to the next. That is why we work hard to provide opportunities for energy conservation. We will soon offer prepay and other programs to help our customer-owners in need.

One current opportunity is our Neighbor to Neighbor program, which gives a helping hand to customers struggling to pay their electric bills.

Our board of directors recently approved an improvement to this program, and we now offer the ability to round up your PUD bill to the next whole dollar. The amount rounded up is deposited into the Neighbor to Neighbor fund and used to support income-qualified community members with their electric bills in time of temporary need. It is for emergencies only, available up to two times a year for those who have nowhere else to turn.

Eligibility is established according to federally defined poverty levels. Eligibility is determined by our local Mid-Columbia Community Action Partnership/Community Action Partnership.

One-hundred percent of customer donations stay in our community.

Other than rounding up, you can sign up to have a small monthly contribution of $1, $2, or $5 automatically added to your bill each month, or you can make your contribution on a separate check made payable to “Neighbor to Neighbor.”

To borrow the words from one of our staff members, “Your donation will touch the lives of neighbors and strangers alike and help strengthen our bond as a community.”

Please consider joining me in supporting some of our fellow community members in this manner. For more information, go to our Neighbor to Neighbor page.

Thank you,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Report — December 2020

Happy Holidays

Greetings,

Roger KlineAs the seasonal tune goes, the weather outside is—or can be— frightful. What isn’t frightful is the reliability of your electric service and the resilience of the infrastructure and teams that provide it for you each day.

As I reflect on this past year and its many challenges, I am most appreciative of the people I have the pleasure of working with and serving every day. It’s people who keep the power flowing and who we are primarily here to serve.

On that note, your people’s utility district is governed by a dedicated and compassionate board of directors. The policy and regional work they support and participate in has provided us a positive vision for the future. The performance indicators they monitor continue to illustrate the excellence of the district. We accomplish all this work on your behalf safely and with the utmost dedication. Of that, I am very proud and appreciative.

Consider this my usual plug for energy audits and conservation measures as well. We strive to offer programs that everyone can use to lower their energy consumption and bills. Energy consumption—the amount you use—drives the amount of your bill. We strive to work with every customer, if the need arises, to make payment arrangements or support. Please communicate with us during times of need. We want you to be safe and warm in your homes and businesses.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, as we transition into what 2021 will bring, please take time to appreciate the experiences of 2020—and then join me in being excited for the future. Next year will be better!

Best to all and happy holidays,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Report — November 2020

Continued Excellence

Greetings,

Roger KlineTwo years ago, the Northern Wasco County PUD Board of Directors accepted my recommendation to adopt a new strategic plan. This 10-year plan retargets our efforts and allows the district to continue to position itself and our community for a successful energy future.

Progress is being made on the plan’s objectives. We continue to show excellent results in our areas of focus as measured by key performance indicators. The strategic plan, the quarterly organizational performance dashboards, and many other items are available on our website under “About Us” and “Meetings & Agendas.”

The electric service and utility industry are ever-changing, as are the types of services you, our customer-owners, desire. From smart home devices to weatherization, energy conservation, electric vehicles, and income-qualifying programs, we are here. We strive for everyone to be satisfied, and for the electricity to be there when you need and want it.

We have substantially completed our advanced meter installation project and rebuilt much of the oldest and outdated critical infrastructure. Most recently, we updated our after-hours call center support to a fully functioning service provider so we can once again take payment information by phone for customers who aren’t comfortable using the web portal, integrated voice response, or the NWCPUD app.

Our commitment to provide you with more granular energy-consumption data will be helpful for both the utility and for you, the customer, as time goes on.

Lastly, all these improvements and carbon-free energy delivery have been accomplished with the lowest rates in the region. Fiscal integrity and providing quality service at a competitive price remain core to our values.

Please interact with us during the next monthly public board of directors’ meeting to learn more about what NWCPUD is doing. Meetings are at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. Stay tuned to our various media channels for specific login information.

Best to all, stay safe and stay warm!

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Report — October 2020

Public Power: The Community-Owned Advantage

Greetings,

Roger KlineNorthern Wasco County People’s Utility District is one of more than 2,000 public power utilities that helps power the lives of more than 48 million people across the country.

There are many reasons why you, our customers, continue to own and operate your own electric utility. Since our founding in 1939 and delivery of our first electron of service in 1949, NWCPUD has served our community with reliable electricity at low rates, offering excellent customer service and an ethic of serving the community’s needs. Our strong commitment to our community includes supporting economic development; providing carbon-free, environmentally responsible electric power; and doing all of this as safely as possible for everyone involved.

As a not-for-profit public power utility, our loyalty is to you, our customer—not stockholders. We take great pride in our governance structure, with an elected governing board comprised of five local individuals. The board holds open meetings the first Tuesday of every month at the PUD offices at 2345 River Road. The meetings start at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

The meetings are currently held electronically, but you may still participate. Watch for virtual meeting log-in details on our website, social media channels and media releases.

NWCPUD will continue to provide cost-effective, reliable electricity that adds value to the local economy and be a benefit to you, our customer-owners, and to our community.

Thank you for your continued support as we work diligently on your behalf.

Best to all,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Oh, What a Year It’s Been

Greetings,

Roger KlineLast year at this time, I updated you on the district’s capital investment plan and the commencement of the advanced meter infrastructure project. Everyone was gracious and understanding as we upgraded the various systems to current technology. We’ve been able to be more responsive to your needs because of these investments.

Little did we know we would lean on this and other technology so heavily as staff transitioned to remote work due to the pandemic, or even fully appreciate how quickly we would be able to respond to outages or system maintenance opportunities as this plethora of information has become more readily available.

There are still a few more meters to go to call the project 100% finished, but we’re working on them in a diligent and customer-centric manner because these installations are more technical in nature and require a bit more engineering and planning to complete. We’re almost there!

That project, along with many others, has continued to keep the lights on during this interesting year. In management speak, we use terms like “opportunity-rich environment” to try to make lemonade out of the lemons that sometimes show up when we’re trying to accomplish other things.

District staff, your board of directors and our contractor community have worked hard to make lemonade out of 2020 when it wasn’t always easy. We’ve delayed work, reshuffled short-run priorities and altered course in a few ways to support the community as people have fallen behind on paying their PUD bills.

We’re doing our part. We need you to do your part as well. Please contact us if you need help catching up on your bills.

For the district, September means the end of the third quarter of operations, transitioning from the summer construction season to the fall, and preparing for our winter heavy-use heating, or peak season. We’re finalizing 2021 budgets and preparing to support new member(s) of the board of directors because it is an election year.

“The show must go on” is an appropriate phrase. It must go on regardless of pandemics, regardless of season and regardless of how many lemons present themselves. That’s our commitment to you, and we will continue to live up to it.

As always, organizational performance information and much more is available at www.nwascopud.org.

Happy September, everyone. Please stay safe and healthy.

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Report — August 2020

Roger KlineNeighbors Helping Neighbors—Especially Now

As our community continues to live through the various hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to reassure our customer-owners that Northern Wasco County PUD is here to help where we can, when we can, and for as long as we are able.

We suspended disconnects for non-payment in March, deferred late-fee assessments, credited deposits to accounts when possible, and set aside financial resources for small business assistance to eligible organizations.

Those efforts—coupled with postponement of a 3.8% rate increase— have kept more than $700,000 in your collective bank accounts, available for your other uses.

We know there are many who still need support. We will continue to work with customers facing financial struggles with the understanding that they work with us and communicate. We will reach out soon to set up payment arrangements with customers in arrears. It is imperative accounts become current before cold weather use increases and bills become insurmountable.

Federal and state dollars are available for utility assistance through the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council’s Community Action Partnership. Customers must reach out to them for assistance. Programs have been modified to help more people qualify.

Even though our rates are the lowest in the region—and some of the lowest in the state and nation—that doesn’t mean people still don’t occasionally need help with their energy bills. We understand fully that the cost per unit of measurement (kilowatt-hours) is only one aspect. The amount of energy use via energy consumption is what can make an energy bill larger from one season to the next. That is why we work hard to provide opportunities for energy conservation. Soon, we will offer options such as prepay to help our customer-owners in need.

Another way we offer help is through our Neighbor to Neighbor program, which gives a helping hand to customers struggling to pay their electric bills. You can sign up to have a small monthly contribution of $1, $2, or $5 automatically added to your bill each month, or you can make your contribution on a separate check made payable to “Neighbor to Neighbor.”

Reaching your PUD has been challenging for some of you, as crews and staff stay safe and distanced while working remotely. We have added some technological solutions to make this easier going forward. Safety, integrity, customer service, respect, operational excellence, and sustainability are still our core values. Even from 6 feet away.

Thank you,

General Manager
Roger Kline