Manager’s Message

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Manager’s Report – September 2019

Infrastructure Renewal and Future-proofing

Roger KlineWe’re modernizing our systems to better serve you and our community. As a part of this effort, we are upgrading our electric meters to advanced or “smart” meters. NWCPUD has been studying this, planning for it, and communicating about it for over a decade, and much more in earnest since 2016.

These meters are a common form of technology that transmit energy usage to the utility through a secure wireless network, using a low-powered radio.

This project is a part of an overall 10-year, almost $50 million infrastructure renewal and expansion program. The RiverTrail substation, thousands of new poles, miles of conductor (wire) and many other “future-proofing” updates are a part of this program as well.

Delivering safe, reliable, high-value and environmentally-responsible energy and products are our core business. We do this on your behalf and for a much lower cost per unit of energy than many across the region and nation.

We also recognize that not every decision we make pleases every member of our community. There are times we must trim a tree to safe standards that an individual may not agree with. There are times we must replace infrastructure, meters or otherwise, that an individual may not agree with. There are methods to address when individuals are dissatisfied so they can be heard. That doesn’t mean that decisions will change, but everyone deserves the right to be heard.

Come be a part of the public process if you so choose. Our elected Board of Director’s meetings are public and there is an opportunity to provide public testimony. They generally meet the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the PUD Board Room at 2345 River Road in The Dalles.

Happy September everyone, please stay safe.

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — August 2019

Fires, infrastructure and mutual aid

Roger KlineAs many will recall, last year was a terrible year for wildfires and the multiple hazards that come with them. The tragedy experienced by some of our friends and neighbors will never be forgotten.

The maintenance and improvement work conducted on your electric system infrastructure is purposeful and accomplished with these types of hazards in mind. Please remember that whether it is a meter replacement, vegetation management tree cutting, line access, joint-use-audit, or right-of-way easement, it is all done to ensure safety, reliability and resiliency of your electric service, and the people that support it each and every day.

Similarly, you may have heard of recent electrical transmission line de-energization to mitigate wildfires in other areas of Oregon and perhaps even California. Just know that this is not NWCPUD’s typical operational practice and that we work with many agencies, communities and public officials if and when disaster strikes to ensure public safety first and foremost. We don’t answer to shareholders, we work for you. Keeping you and your property safe and energized with reliable, resilient, affordable and environmentally responsible energy is our mission and our focus. It’s what we do.

Best to all, have a happy August!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — July 2019

Reinvestment in Your PUD Systems

Roger KlineYou may be noticing more and more inspection and construction work from PUD crews and contractors starting this month. Utility pole inspection, testing and treatment is critically important as much of your electrical system is transmitted and distributed via overhead lines. We are in our third cycle of inspections and it is proving very valuable. Similarly, we are auditing our joint-use program to ensure all those non-electric service wires
and interconnections on PUD poles are safe and appropriate.

The advanced meter infrastructure project is moving forward very well. The communication network is up and running and the “vintage” meter on my own home was replaced with an accurate digital meter that has already given me some personal insight as to how I can reduce unnecessary power consumption and lower my bill. We are excited to get these meters installed throughout our system and to begin offering everyone more insight into their own power consumption patterns.

I know I’ve hinted at this before, but we will soon be releasing our mobile application (app) to provide consumption, billing, and other customer service information to you. Please stay tuned!

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through 2019. So much excellent work is being accomplished at NWCPUD by your excellent staff. As I write this, we’ve just finished celebrating the completion of the Quenett Creek Substation with our partner the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). More on that later.

Enjoy the sunshine and be safe as your recreate outside!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — June 2019

Call 8-1-1 to play it safe when you dig

Roger KlineThis is a great time of year to be outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather in the Columbia River Gorge, whether you are out on the river, hiking in the mountains, or just taking care of those projects around the yard that you’ve planned over the winter.

It’s also the time of year when you hear in the news about broken water or sewer pipes because someone forgot to call for an underground facilities locate. Most utility line strikes take place in the summer months when more yard work is being done.

Nationwide, about a quarter of those happen due to insufficient notice to the 8-1-1 service.

Whether you are planting new trees, building a deck, or any other kind of outdoor improvement, if you plan to dig more than a foot below the surface, be sure to call 8-1-1 at least two full business days before you start work.

A call to 8-1-1 connects homeowners and contractors to the Oregon Utility Notification Center, the one-call center, which notifies utility companies of the intent to dig. Locators are then sent to the digging site to mark underground lines with color-coded spray paint or flags.

Locates are free and help avoid the risk of injury, disruption of utility service, and potential liability for repair costs.

Learn more about 8-1-1 service at the Oregon Utility Notification Center website.

At your Northern Wasco County PUD, we’d also like to remind you to look up as well as down while doing yard improvements. Make sure you stay a safe distance away from overhead power lines to avoid risk of injury, and leave tree trimming around power lines to the professionals at Trees, Inc., who work on behalf of the PUD and are specially trained to work around power lines.

Roger Kline
General Manager


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Manager’s Report — May 2019

Current technology and new infrastructure

Roger KlineI want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for working hard to conserve energy over this very cold, and late winter season. Now that we’re well into warmer weather, your PUD team is supporting all of your new construction projects, remodels, and doing our work to keep the power flowing safely and reliably.

We’re busy working through our long list of reinvestment projects as well as some system expansion and growth work too. Maybe you’ll notice them, maybe you won’t, but know that they are all integral to keeping your electric service available when you need and want it. One project that we’re very excited about is the advanced meter infrastructure project. We are one of the last utilities in the region to update our systems to this current technology. We waited for the costs to come down and for the technology to become very mature. As a matter of fact, over 50 percent of all utilities across the nation have some version of advanced meter infrastructure in place now—electricity, water, natural-gas, and the like. More science-based facts can be found on this website, starting with the Advanced Meters page. We have a very comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) section there, as well. We look forward to offering you more products and services once the systems are all in place.

On a different note, this is a great time of year to conduct an energy-audit to help identify the specific things we can do together to better manage your energy consumption (which directly affects the amount of your PUD bill). The audit is free.

These are just some of the actions your PUD is taking on your behalf. Help is just an office visit or a phone call away. Also remember, you can interact with your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online through our website. Paying your bill this way, or through our automated telephone system has no service fee!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — April 2019

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Roger KlineBy the time you read this I am hopeful that the snow has melted and that we are in fact well on our way to Spring. Given that my weather predictions are likely worse than a certain shadow-seeking rodent, let’s just assume I’m wrong and you’re still bundled up inside your home and businesses.

With this extremely cold and late snowy season, here is another reminder that cold weather tends to increase your electrical consumption, and your PUD bills, and that we have friends and neighbors that could use our help.

We understand fully that the cost per unit of measurement (kilowatt hours) is only one aspect, and that 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, and very soon, other options such as prepay or other programs to help our customer-owners in need. One other way we do that is through our “Neighbor to Neighbor” program. This program gives a helping hand to customers who are struggling to pay their electric bills.

One hundred percent of customer donations stay in our community!

Eligible households who do not qualify for other state or federal assistance may receive up to $125 in a 12-month period. Eligibility is established according to federally defined poverty levels and verification of eligibility is determined by CAP.

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.” All contributions are tax deductible.

Please consider joining me in supporting some of our fellow community members in this manner.

Thank you,

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — March 2019

Greenhouse Gas Bill Centers on Cap-and-Trade

Roger KlineLawmakers in Salem are in the midst of passing a bill that would make Oregon the second state after California to adopt an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill has support from Gov. Kate Brown and the statehouse’s other top Democrats, but even its champions are treading carefully to protect the state’s economy as they aim to address climate change.

Oregon has been inching toward this major environmental policy shift for years, as it has become increasingly clear that the state can’t meet its 2020 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

House Bill 2020 evolved from an earlier version of cap-and-trade legislation known as the Clean Energy Jobs bill that lawmakers considered but failed to pass during the last session.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, revived the controversial bill by creating a Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction that has been working on the new version since last summer.

As a reminder, the largest source of Carbon emissions in Oregon isn’t the power sector, but the transportation sector. The overwhelming majority of your electricity is provided by near zero-carbon sources. Please see Where We Get Our Power to learn more. Similarly, if you are considering a switch to an electric vehicle, please know our rates are very favorable to charge that vehicle with carbon free energy. Especially as compared to regional investor-owned utilities.

Northern Wasco County PUD is monitoring what cap-and-trade legislation could mean to the power sector and the overall economy in our region. We are optimistic that there would not be unintended financial consequences to our community and stand ready to participate in the legislative process to ensure your consumer-owned electric service utility and our community isn’t negatively impacted.

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — February 2019

Energy Burden and Affordability

Roger Kline

The Oregon Housing and Community Services, Oregon Department of Energy, and the Oregon Public Utility Commission recently announced the publication of an initial 10-year plan to reduce energy burden and improve energy efficiency in affordable housing across the state. The plan, which is accompanied by an interactive assessment of energy use in affordable housing, provides recommended steps for Oregon to reduce the energy burden on low-income households. Northern Wasco County PUD is very supportive of this effort as it matches what your locally elected Board of Directors and staff strive to do on your behalf, each and every day.

Energy burden is defined as the percentage of household income that goes toward energy costs. If a household spends more than six percent of their income on energy-related costs, they are considered energy-burdened. The interagency assessment and plan, along with the Oregon Department of Energy’s recently completed Biennial Energy Report, indicate that lower-income families are more likely to be energy-burdened.

As I’ve previously stated here, Northern Wasco County PUD residential customers tend to consume more than the state and national average of electrical energy in their homes. We are committed to providing opportunities for you to reduce your personal energy consumption, and thereby electric bills to ease your energy burden. Please see our Programs & Services section to learn more about energy efficiency and low-income assistance. The information also is available in our offices at 2345 River Road in The Dalles.

Many thanks to those of you that have already begun this process!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — January 2019

New Year Means New Technology Offerings

Roger KlineThe start of 2019 means the beginning of some new technology choices for you, our customer-owners.

We will soon have Interactive Voice Response (IVR) available when you call our offices. You will be able to pay your PUD bill, review your account information and eventually report an outage once the IVR tool is fully integrated into our enterprise system. As a reminder, you can already pay online at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no additional charges or fees associated with using these services.

Secondly, in April we will begin installing our advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The communications system is the first step, with new meter installations beginning closer to summer time. Please stay tuned for more specific communications on this wonderful project. We’re very excited for the increased products and services this technology will allow us to offer, as well as increased reliability and improved out- age response times.

These expanded offerings are just part of what we’re working towards in support of our community.

Best to all and Happy New Year,

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — December 2018

Take the Opportunity to Save

Roger KlineDid you know that our community tends to use more electrical energy than the state and national average for our homes? It’s true. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2017; “the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,399 kilowatt hours (kWh), an average of 867 kWh per month” (Energy Information Administration). In our community we tend to average 1,200 kWh per month. The average in Oregon is around 900 kWh per month. There are many reasons for this.

One reason is that many of our homes and businesses were constructed before energy efficiency standards were developed, and as a community we’ve lagged in making those investments to ensure our heating and cooling options are returning the most value.

Another reason, to put it simply, is that our rates have been historically low enough that the cost pressures didn’t exist to incentivize investment in new windows, insulation, heat pump vs furnace/air conditioning, or similar.

Revenue per kilowatt hour in 2017 from Publicly-owned: 8.9. Investor owned: 11.3. North Wasco Co. PUD: 6.7.

We work very hard to keep rates stable and low. We do not forecast a residential rate change in 2019 and expect to continue to be one of the lowest-cost energy providers in the state, and the lowest in the gorge. That stated, our energy procurement costs are still the largest piece of your PUD’s overall budget. Please help us reduce this expense and your personal energy bills. The best way to accomplish this is to have a free energy audit conducted by PUD staff. Once that is completed, we can work together to see what measures are most appropriate for your home. If you happen to be a renter, we have programs available for you and the property owner as well.

This is the time of year when bills can get high due to maximum energy consumption to heat your homes and businesses. Please help us conserve energy and make those bills as low as possible. For those that are able, this is also the time of year community friends and neighbors may need more help paying those bills. Please consider donating to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program to help.

Thank you and Happy Holidays,

Roger Kline
General Manager