Manager’s Message

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Manager’s Message – September 2021

Higher Temperatures & Higher Bills

Greetings,

Let’s revisit March’s manager message, where I shared what extremely low temperatures meant to energy consumption and bills. Average ambient temperatures dropped during the weather system of February 10. Even though I did not adjust my thermostat, my heating system required more energy to accomplish the same task as days prior. More energy consumed equals a higher bill.

What I told you then can also be said for extremely high-temperature events when you have air-conditioning loads in your home or business.

High ambient temperatures were reached during the weather systems of July and early August. Although I adjusted my smart thermostat to be as efficient as possible, my cooling system 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 below.

bar graph showing how higher temperatures equals more energy consumed

This is 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 same information from the Northern Wasco County PUD app.

It’s a great time to have a free energy audit done to identify ways to reduce your consumption. The energy audit of my home accomplished by our excellent PUD staff identified a few things I need to do to reduce my energy use. I am thankful for the energy-efficiency upgrade programs we offer our customer-owners. The programs will allow for a new heat pump and weatherization measures in the coming year.

Your PUD staff, board and I are working hard to keep the carbon-free hydropower flowing safely, reliably, and affordably to you. I am very thankful for the excellent work by staff and the contractor community, who keep your electric service safe and reliable. Stay cool, stay safe and stay healthy!

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Message – August 2021

Greetings,

Roger KlineSince its formation in 1939, Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District (NWCPUD) has had a strong public power ethic. Its five-member elected board of directors, nearly 60 employees, and the community expect a high level of electric service reliability, low electric rates, environmentally responsible power supply, and the kind of friendly, personal, and caring customer services that are the hallmarks of many smaller, “homegrown” public utilities across the Pacific Northwest.

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

We have made many strides in updating infrastructure, safety, technical and professional development training for staff, and updating and modernizing customer-facing systems. We are well-positioned to succeed in these areas. The work isn’t done, but we’re much better off today.

The PUD’s philosophy 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.”

Please consider signing up for electronic statements, or even downloading our app (NWCPUD) from your favorite app store. As postage rates increase, this is a simple way to help us mitigate costs and avoid having to ultimately pass them through to you.

I am proud of this organization and its staff. We’ve received the highest Reliable Public Power Provider score and rating in the district’s history from the American Public Power Association. 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 because 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 updating the district’s strategic plan. The world around us continues to change, as do the opportunities and risks associated with the provision of electric service and other utilities.
Best,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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Manager’s Message – July 2021

Wildfire Mitigation Efforts

Greetings,

utility pole burning Occasionally—and especially during wildfire mitigation efforts—the isolation or turning off of electric circuits may be necessary. Northern Wasco County PUD’s practice is to only do so when other options have been eliminated and in close coordination with appropriate emergency personnel and agencies.

We intend to always provide the same 99.99% reliability we are all accustomed to, but recognize emergencies happen. A recent example was last month when a wildfire near Interstate 84 rapidly burned through parts of our community and service territory. To reduce potential exacerbation of the hazards, we de-energized various circuits while fire crews were in the area, and specifically before a service line crossing over the highway fell due to the utility pole burning through. See the photo.

As a part of normal business, we perform preventive maintenance work throughout the year to mitigate these occurrences. Some examples include our vegetation management program, system inspection, and maintenance, pole testing and treatment, system hardening—steel poles are one example—advanced system protection devices, training, and equipment for personnel.

Please make sure we have your current contact information so we can continue to improve our use of mass-notification systems. Also, please sign up with the Wasco County Citizen Alert Emergency Notification System. The alerts received during the wildfire were integral to keeping community members safe. We have the link on our website under operations and safety.

More information on wildfire mitigation plans, vegetation management, and other related topics will be shared at the July and August meetings of the board of directors. These are public meetings, so please participate as your time and interest allow.

Best,

General Manager
Roger Kline

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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