Manager’s Message

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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

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report — July 2020

Roger KlineRespecting Each Other

I have had many conversations as of late with community members and district staff. Those conversations centered around our community, as well as the country and the world. Clearly, there are differing opinions on what a public organization such as Northern Wasco County PUD’s responsibility is during times of struggle and strife.

As the executive responsible for this organization and its people, I want to re-state our core organizational values and beliefs, as well as our philosophy and mission. These are our guideposts, and I feel fortunate the board of directors supported me in updating them in 2018. I believe they are relevant and appropriate for the time.

Philosophy/Mission

Our philosophy — We value our public power traditions, while seeking new and better ways to preserve the benefits of that heritage. We believe that with innovation, teamwork, and commitment, we can compete effectively in a changing environment.

Our mission — To provide reliable, competitively priced energy and related services that benefit our customers, in the tradition of public power.

Core Values and Beliefs

Safety — Working safely and protecting the public, our employees, and the assets we manage is nonnegotiable.

Integrity — Being ethical and holding ourselves accountable to conduct business in a fair, honest, open, compliant and environmentally responsible manner is at the core of what we do.

Customer service — Providing quality service at a competitive price while being responsible to our customers’ needs creates added value and improves customer satisfaction.

Respect — Encouraging constructive dialogue that promotes a culture of inclusiveness, recognizes our differences, and accepts varying viewpoints will lead us to optimal solutions for even the most difficult challenges.

Operational excellence — Engaging employees to strive for excellence and continuous improvement ensures we provide reliable service while managing costs and creating a rewarding work environment.

Sustainability — Maintaining financial integrity, minimizing our environmental impact, and supporting responsible economic development in our communities ensures the long-term viability of the organization and the communities we serve.

Part of my commitment to the organization and our community is to continue to listen and to learn. I will do so while ensuring the safe and reliable provision of electric service for you.

Most sincerely,

General Manager
Roger Kline

Carousel, Manager's Message

Stay Safe at Home

Each year, electrical malfunctions account for thousands of home fires, injuries, death, and property damage. The average American home was built in 1977, and many existing homes simply can’t handle the demands of today’s electrical appliances and devices. Keep safety in mind with these helpful tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Learn the warning signs of an overloaded electrical system

  • Frequent tripping of circuit breakers or blowing of fuses
  • Dimming of lights when other devices are turned on
  • Buzzing sound from switches or outlets
  • Discolored outlets
  • Appliances that seem underpowered

Avoid overloading circuits

  • Label your circuit breakers to understand the different circuits in your home
  • Have your home inspected by a qualified electrician if it is more than 40 years old or if you have had a major appliance installed
  • Have a qualified electrician install new circuits for devices that use a lot of energy
  • Reduce your electrical load by using energy-efficient appliances and lighting

Working from home? Follow these electrical safety tips to keep you and your home safe from electrical hazards

  • Avoid overloading outlets
  • Unplug appliances when not in use to save energy and minimize the risk of shock or fire
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage
  • Use extension cords only on a temporary basis
  • Never plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip
  • Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors, or windows
  • Make sure cords do not become tripping hazards
  • Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least 3 feet away from heat sources
  • Make sure you use proper wattage for lamps and lighting
  • Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Test them monthly, change batteries annually and replace the unit every 10 years
Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report — May 2020

Stay Safe

Roger Kline“Stay safe” is one of the core values in the utility and energy sector. It is integral to our work and a tenet stitched into the fabric of what we do. Today, that message means so much more than it may have for any of us in recent memory.

More than 90% of Americans are under statewide stay-at-home orders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised all Americans to stay home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed.

Here in Oregon, we “Stay home, stay safe.” As we all adhere to and process the day-to-day effects of this new reality, it is increasingly important that people have seamless access to electricity—the essence of almost all modern activities.

Here at Northern Wasco County PUD, we are monitoring this situation closely. We are powering the lights, phones, televisions, computers, refrigerators, heating and cooling systems that we all depend on to get our information, communicate with loved ones and live our lives. We also are powering essential businesses such as the hospital, grocery stores, communications centers and other critical infrastructure. We are embedded in the regional unified incident command system to ensure we can support the communities we serve in the best possible manner. We are here to help.

Thankfully, we already had taken steps to modernize our critical infrastructure to ensure the safe provision of electric service. Maintaining the operational integrity of our systems is vital to safeguard the public’s health, safety and welfare during this time.

Your board of directors has postponed the previously approved 3.8% rate increase for one year. The board has supported the suspension of service disconnects for nonpayment and the non-assessment of late charges for the duration of this emergency. NWCPUD is committed to working with everyone to ensure the safe and reliable provision of electric service. We want you to stay home and stay safe with electric service.

None of this work happens without the excellent staff and contractor community that support the PUD. I am thankful for the dedicated professionals we have here. They are the motivation and energy that keeps the PUD working behind the scenes. Thank them yourself when you get the chance—from a safe distance.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic together.

As always, stay safe!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 18

Outline of a lineworker working on a powerlineNo matter what Mother Nature has in store, Northern Wasco County PUD lineworkers are ready to answer the call, ensuring you have the safe, reliable power you depend on. Our local communities are brighter, safer and stronger because of the selfless sacrifices of these unsung heroes. Remember: When you find yourself in the dark, we’ve got your back!

Today and every day, let’s thank electric lineworkers for powering our lives.

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report — March 2020

Columbia River System Operations – Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Roger KlineBy the time this issue of Ruralite gets to your mailbox, the region should have received the draft results of the Columbia River System operations environmental impact statement. The DEIS documents the evaluation of the impacts of the long- term coordinated water management functions for the operation, maintenance, and configuration of the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects that comprise the federal Columbia River System.

The DEIS is developed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act in response to the need to review and update the management of this system. This includes evaluating impacts to resources in the context of new information and changed conditions in the Columbia River basin. Information from this process will inform future decisions and allow for a flexible approach to meeting multiple responsibilities and complying with all applicable laws.

The co-lead agencies—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration—considered input from the public and tribal, state and local governments obtained during the scoping period and input from cooperating agencies during the development of the DEIS. The agencies applied screening criteria, such as technical feasibility, to develop a reasonable range of alternatives that meet EIS objectives and balance the multiple purposes of the 14 projects. Details of the evaluation, including a preferred alternative, will be available for review in the DEIS.

More than 90% of your electricity is provided by the output of this federal system of dams. Our local economy and community are connected to the river for cultural, agriculture, transportation, recreation, economic and an abundance of other benefits we appreciate here in the Gorge and the Pacific Northwest. In this, we are all connected. Please consider participating in the public comment process to ensure all the region is heard. Passionate and well-funded special interest groups continue to attempt to sway public opinion away from the benefits of the federal system and the carbon-free, flexible, reliable and low-cost attributes of hydroelectricity.

Let me be clear on this next point: A “preferred alternative” or eventual, future state outcome is expected from the DEIS. This outcome will likely change the way the federal system is operated or perhaps even physically constructed. Also—and likely most importantly—whatever the outcome, Northern Wasco County PUD will have a plan for addressing it and a path forward ensuring our continued success. Many thanks to the board of directors for its support in this area.

Lastly, NWCPUD is a member of Northwest RiverPartners. Please visit the Northwest RiverPartners website to learn more about the benefits of hydroelectricity and its role in our clean energy future. Full disclosure: I am also on the board of directors, so I really think they’re great!

Roger Kline
General Manager

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Manager’s Report — February 2020

Carbon Policy, Cap and Trade. Here We Go Again.

Roger KlineLawmakers in Salem are again attempting to pass a bill that would make Oregon the second state after California to adopt an economywide cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill has support from Gov. Kate Brown and the state house’s other top Democrats, but even its champions are treading carefully to protect the state’s economy as they aim to address climate change. Last session’s walkout by Republicans as well as the #TimberUnity efforts are clear examples as to why more thought had to be put into this legislation.

The proposed legislation has evolved yet again from an earlier version of cap-and-trade legislation known as the Clean Energy Jobs bill that lawmakers considered but failed to pass during a previous session.

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 www.nwascopud.org/about/power- sources to learn more. Similarly, if you are considering a switch to an electric vehicle, please know our rates are favorable to charge that vehicle with carbon-free energy. We offer rebates on home- charging infrastructure and information to help with your decision at www.nwascopud.org/programs-and-services/electric-vehicles.

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 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.

Stay warm and stay safe,

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report — January 2020

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Roger KlineAs we begin this new year, please remember cold weather tends to increase your electrical consumption and your PUD bills. Please also remember, we have friends and neighbors who can use our help.

We understand the cost per unit of measurement — kilowatt hours — is only one aspect. 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 other options such as prepay to help our customer-owners in need.

Another way we help those is need 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 stays 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. Verification of eligibility is determined by the Mid-Columbia Community Action Partnership.

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

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report — December 2019

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 every day.

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead, I am most appreciative of the people I have the pleasure of working with and serving every day.

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 of 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 have programs 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 in that manner. Please communicate with us during times of need. We want you to be safe and warm in your homes and businesses.

Best to all and happy holidays,

Roger Kline
General Manager