Commission recap, 8/8/2023 — Rate increase proposed. Power quality on the rise. More...

Grant PUD working proactively to improve power quality throughout county

Grant PUD is developing a proactive approach to ensure that customers throughout Grant County have power quality that meets high industry standards.

Ron Alexander, managing director of Power Delivery, told Grant PUD’s commissioners during their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, that his team has been working to identify places where power quality presents opportunities for us to improve.

He explained that alternating current power, which energizes the Grant PUD grid, can develop situations where the voltage is lower at the tail end of a circuit than at the head end. Low voltage causes current to rise to meet the power requirements [P (power) = I (current) x E (voltage] for electrical devices connected to the circuit. This can cause overheating and damage to those devices and the circuit. Often power quality issues happen on long sections of power lines that do not have voltage-regulating equipment installed and were designed many years ago, said Alexander. He added that growing power usage on long distribution lines that were originally built for smaller loads is exacerbating this problem. 

One of the other issues the power quality efforts are highlighting is the need to share information with irrigators. 

“The problem is when you do not have good enough information about the horsepower of pumps and motors,” stated Alexander. “We need to have better communications to fix the problems we’re trying to fix now.  In one circuit alone, the team working on the issue found that the horsepower (1 HP = 746 watts of power) rating on record at the PUD was 5,000, but upon field evaluation there was approximately 10,000 HP attached to the circuit. Irrigators do not realize how great the danger and impact of this can have.” 

Alexander added that it’s particularly important for operators of large water pumps and motors to communicate with Grant PUD staff about any horsepower they add to a circuit. 

With effective communication about how much load is on a circuit, Grant PUD staff can make modifications to the power infrastructure to reduce power quality issues. If communication is poor and power quality issues remain unresolved, there can be significant consequences including fires, damage to customers’ expensive electrical devices, and failure of Grant PUD’s power equipment resulting in costly power outages. 

Tom Flint said that it will be important for Grant PUD staff to especially work with farmers to ensure they have reliable power to the pumps and motors that run their crucial systems in rural Grant County.  

“Farmers understand reduced reliability,” Flint said. “When you tell them they get reduced reliability if they don’t communicate with us, they will get that.”

The Commission applauded the efforts of everyone involved to improve power quality and recognized it is a slow process trying to get out to each feeder in the county and make corrections to the system and educate customers.  The commission also recognized that this is a continual process that will need to be supported.

To learn more about Grant PUD’s irrigation services, visit:
Grant PUD: Irrigation Services 

Hear the discussion at 3:29:07 on the commission audio. 

Proposed rate increases part of preliminary 2024 budget

Commissioners Tuesday got a “very preliminary” 2024 budget that currently includes a 2.5% rate increase, with annual 2% rate increases from 2025 through 2028.

The increase will bolster a budget with revenues expected to be relatively flat from most revenue sources. Inflation, which has been key factor in the 2023 budget is expected to be less significant in 2024.

With plenty of work yet to do to refine budget figures, current forecasts show total budgeted expenditures of $354.9 million, including $175.2 in capital expenses.

The early look Tuesday was to meet a state deadline to present the budget to the commission. Numbers will be refined over the coming weeks toward three public budget hearings in October and a final vote on the 2024 budget planned in November. Public hearing dates:

October 10, 2023

2024 Draft Budget Public Hearing – 2:00 p.m.

Ephrata Headquarters Commission Room, 30 C Street SW, Ephrata, WA 98823


October 10, 2023

2024 Draft Budget Public Hearing – 6:00 p.m.

Virtual Microsoft Teams

Click here to join the meeting

Call in/Audio only – (509) 703-5291

Phone Conference ID: 680 513 972#

October 12, 2023

2024 Draft Budget Public Hearing – 6:00 p.m.

Moses Lake Local Office Auditorium, 312 W Third Avenue, Moses Lake, WA 98837

See the full presentation on pages 1-7 of the
presentation materials. This portion of the commission audio wasn’t recorded due to a camera/microphone malfunction.

Debt refinance to save Grant PUD $17.67 million over 20 years

Grant PUD’s Treasury team took advantage of favorable conditions on the bond market to replace old debt for shorter-term new debt for a savings of $17.67 million.

Transactions included eliminating some old 30-year debt and replacing it with new 20-year debt. They also replaced some variable rate debt with new debt at a fixed rate to protect Grant PUD from market volatility.

Grant PUD has issued no new debt this year. The team is evaluating the need for new debt next year, based on forecasted capital expenses.

“I like it every time you save us money,” Commission President Nelson Cox said.

See the full presentation on pages 52-61 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 1:35:02 on the commission audio.

Commissioners also:

— Received a quarterly update from Charles Meyer, senior manager of Enterprise Technology. One of the most impactful achievements was reducing the number of open service request tickets per technician in Grant PUD’s Service Desk from 80 to under 30 per technician. For more information, see pages 62 to 85 of the presentation materials. Hear the discussion at 2:19:14 on the commission audio. 


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