Manager’s Message

Carousel, Manager's Message

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 www.nwascopud.org 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

Carousel, Manager's Message

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 EIA.gov. 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

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – November 2018

Refining Our Path to the Future

Roger KlineI have just returned from our Nation’s Capital, where along with other delegates from the Public Power Council (PPC) (www.ppcpdx.org), we met with our Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana House and Senate Members and key staff members, to share our perspectives on the cost-competitiveness of Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), progress on the Columbia River Treaty, and other integral aspects of our business.

I am very appreciative that in those discussions the areas of focus we have been engaged with locally are proving very germane to what the industry and region is realizing across a very broad spectrum. That is why I am proud to share that your locally elected Board of Directors approved an updated Strategic Plan at its October meeting. This Strategic Plan refines our efforts for the next 10 years and allows the District to continue to position itself and our community for a successful energy future. The Board was supportive of adjusting the organization’s values to more closely align with the way we have worked over the last few years:

Safety: Working safely and protecting the public, our employees, and the assets we manage is non-negotiable.

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 responsive to our customer’s 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 that 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.

The updated Strategic Plan has too many aspects to list here, so I invite everyone to visit www.nwascopud.org/about to see it, or to come visit us at your next monthly public Board of Director’s meeting to learn more. Meetings are held at 6pm the first Tuesday of every month at the NWCPUD Offices.

Also, please schedule a free energy audit for your residence or business to find ways to reduce your energy consumption and your bill.

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – October 2018

Public Power: The Community-Owned Advantage

Roger KlineNorthern Wasco County People’s Utility District (NWCPUD) is one of more than 2,000 public power utilities that help 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 delivering our first kilowatt hour of service in 1949, Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District has served the community with reliable electricity at low rates, 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 conscious 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 of five local members, that has open meetings the first Tuesday of every month here at the PUD offices at 2345 River Road. The meetings start at 6 p.m. and all are welcome to attend!

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.

We thank you for your support of public power and we are proud to stand with other public power utilities across the nation as we support each other during restoration efforts from the hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters that we have experienced this year.

Best to all and thank you for your continued support as we work diligently on your behalf.

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – September 2018

Fires, infrastructure and mutual aid

Roger KlineOur community experienced some of the worst fires in our region’s history this year.

The devastation and tragedy experienced by some of our friends and neighbors will never be forgotten.

Your electric system infrastructure did not go unscathed, but through hard work, determination and much grace we were able to keep the damage to a minimum. Most of our time, like yours, was spent lending aid to our neighbors and supporting our fellow community members where we could. At the end of the day, we’re a community of caring people. It doesn’t matter what logo may be on the side of your bucket-truck, we support each other for the betterment of the entire community.

So, many thanks to you, our customer-owners who may have had to wait for your individual project to be completed while we provided mutual aid to our neighbors, and many thanks to your PUD staff that live the motto of public service every day.

Happy September everyone, please stay safe.

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – August 2018

Maintaining tradition and making strides

Roger KlineThe following is an update from my letter to you in December of 2016. We’re still working hard to provide you with the level and quality of service we all desire. Whether outwardly visible or not, much progress has been made on your behalf. Thank you for your continued trust and support.

Since its formation in 1939, Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District has had a strong public power ethic. Its five-member elected Board of Directors, the almost 50 employees and the community expect a high level of electric service reliability, low electric rates, and the kind of friendly, personal and informal customer services that are the hallmarks of many smaller, “home-grown” public utilities across the Pacific Northwest.

The District’s electric rates are among the lowest in Oregon, the region and the nation, and the reliability of electric service (as measured by the number and duration of outages) ranks well above the national average. Customer satisfaction in the District is very high.

These same attributes, however, can create challenges as the District begins to navigate a growing and changing economy, shifting community demographics and changing customer expectations. As a broad statement, to keep electricity costs extremely low for customers, the District had lagged in needed spending to upgrade its electric system to maintain reliability, the business systems needed to meet changing customer expectations for services, and the human capital investments needed to create a modern, efficient and effective public utility. We’ve made many strides in updating infrastructure, safety, technical and professional development training for staff, and the updating and modernizing of customer facing systems. We are now very well positioned to succeed in these areas. The work isn’t done but we’re much better off today.

The stated philosophy of the District says it best:

“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.”

I am very proud of this organization and its staff. We’ve received the highest Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) score and rating in the District’s history from the American Public Power Association (APPA). Our safety records are the best they have ever been, and our audit results (financial and otherwise) are exemplary. It is my pleasure to share this with you as it is all accomplished on your behalf. This team is committed to you!

As of this writing, the Board of Directors, senior leadership, staff and I are hard at work on the next iteration of the District’s Strategic Plan. More on that in future writings.

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – July 2018

Court-ordered spill and your PUD bill

Earlier this year, Federal Judge Michael Simon again ruled that increased spill of water (to the maximum dissolved gas amounts) over dam spillways as opposed to through electrical generators through the Columbia and Snake River Dams would be needed to aid downstream fish migrating to the ocean, although the science behind that decision is questionable at best.

That decision has costs, and they are being borne by you and the rest of the consumer-owned utility rate payers in the Pacific Northwest. Don’t forget that the taxpayers are the owners of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). Dams like The Dalles, John Day, and Bonneville, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the power generated as marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), is paid for through rates charged to consumer-owned utilities like Northern Wasco County PUD (your PUD). Many people receive the benefits of the flood control, recreation, and navigation provided by this infrastructure, but Northwest Public Power pays for it.

Recent high-water events in our area can be attributed to this increased spill as well as runoff and a warmer than average Spring.

Your PUD buys most of its electricity from BPA, so as BPA’s costs increase so does what the PUD must collect through your cost-based rates. BPA officials have previously estimated that the increased spring water spills could cost $40 million per year. Through the hard work of your PUD management, Board of Directors and many regional partners, we were successful in influencing BPA to find cost cutting measures ultimately lowering this year’s total to just over $10.2 million dollars.

Since lowering the total costs for this year, BPA has shared what each utility must pay. The total for your PUD is $129,000 of unbudgeted expense. Your Board of Directors and PUD Management are working hard to ascertain how to best recover these extra costs. We have worked diligently to improve the PUD’s financial outlook, tools and resources, so we are confident that we will do so in the most financially prudent manner possible.

Northern Wasco County PUD also works very hard to support a healthy aquatic eco-system. Our hydroelectric facilities at The Dalles Dam and McNary Dam are used solely to maintain fishway attraction water in the fish ladders. Please see www.mcnary.fish to learn more about our joint project with our neighboring consumer-owned utility Klickitat County PUD #1. We try to use science-based approaches to solving problems rather than emotionally charged, politically motivated ones.

If it wasn’t clear, our opposition to the court-ordered increase in water releases from the dams is based on both economic and environmental matters. I do hope we can improve on both in the future.

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – June 2018

Investment in your PUD systems and people

About this same time last year, I reminded you that we were amid some major infrastructure renewal projects. I thought I’d take a moment to update you as to how they are all progressing.

Utility pole inspection, testing and treatment has paid huge dividends for our electric system. We have completed our second round of inspections and have replaced many poles before they failed and caused power outages, interruptions or worse. We’re improving our work processes and accounting to ensure that any outdoor lights that are in our system are being billed appropriately as well. Thank you for your understanding and patience if that has impacted you personally.

Your Board of Directors approved staff ’s recommendation to adopt our smart grid initiative to bring enhanced services to you, our customer-owners and community. We’ll be installing the communication network later this year and continue replacing the electric metering infrastructure as appropriate to ultimately offer you enhanced products and services through technology. Meter reading accuracy and overall reliability of service are huge benefits of this community investment as well.

More than just replacing poles, meters and wires goes on at your PUD every day. Staff works hard to provide excellent customer service, billing accuracy and timely processing of all the other details that it takes to ensure safe, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible electric service to you. We do regional policy work, strategic planning for the future, safety and technical training, community outreach, and support economic development in multiple ways as well. Our community is growing and your PUD is growing right with it.

None of this is possible without excellent people and a supportive community. Thank you for allowing us to accomplish all of this on your behalf.

Please ensure we have your current contact information, including email. Also, feel free to take advantage of electronic bill payment. You can do that through your financial institution or directly at www.nwascopud.org, we do not process any extra fee or charge for this service. This is also a great season to have an energy audit or to sign up for budget (levelized) bill payment. Explore these options on our website!

Enjoy the sunshine and be safe as you recreate outside!

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – May 2018

That Important Summer Call

The return of summery weather means more home owners are working on outdoor projects and more contractors are gearing up for their busy season of road and construction work. Northern Wasco County PUD work crews are out in the field at all times of year, so we know the importance of calling for an 811 under- ground utility locate before every digging project.

Calling those three simple digits helps ensure that all under- ground utilities are properly marked, no matter whether you are breaking ground on a weekend digging project or major construction. Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to Oregon 811 Utility Notification Center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint.

Every digging project, regardless of depth, warrants a call to Oregon 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that should include a call to 811 before they begin.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

Summer may officially start in June, but good outdoor project weather doesn’t wait until then. We want to remind homeowners and contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line.

Visit digsafelyoregon.com for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.

Thank you,

Roger Kline
General Manager

Carousel, Manager's Message

Manager’s Report – April 2018

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

During the March Board of Director’s meeting, representatives from the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, Inc. Community Action Partnership (CAP) updated staff and the Board on their important work, and informed us that our community has already exhausted all its funds for energy assistance for the year.

Even though our rates are the lowest in the region, and some of the lowest in the state, that doesn’t mean that 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, 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