about recent allegations and the Tokeland extension project. The meeting ended upon agreement to hold public meetings in Tokeland, Raymond, and Long Beach to further discuss the project.
Commissioner Ron Hatfield opened the discussion by reading a letter to the public: “I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the actions of a small group of ratepayers over the last few months. They have attempted to discredit the management and board of commissioners of Pacific County PUD No. 2. This group has used bullying and confrontational tactics to try and persuade this board to do their bidding. They have accused the PUD of poor management and the board of rubber-stamping this management. The manager of our PUD is the longest serving manager in its history and is highly regarded by his peers in the industry. I have served as a commissioner for a quarter of a century and have served on all the organizations the PUD is a member of and have gone through the chairs of most and am presently serving as a board member of Northwest Public Power Association, our board chairperson is presently going through the chairs of Washington PUD Association, so I believe we are highly regarded by our peers in the industry as well. Our PUD has some of the lowest rates for power in the state and nation as well as a debt balance that is among the lowest. So, as far as rubber-stamping is concerned, if management brings me plans for the PUD that have been well thought out, as one of our critics said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be a commissioner, just common sense.”
Hatfield continued: “We have been successful in bringing Internet to our county as well as fiber. We have a PUD that is as reliable and well maintained as any in the state. In closing I would just like to say that I fully intend not to be intimidated by a small group and fully intend to support completion of the Tokeland project.”
After hearing the letter, Menlo resident Dick Anderson questioned: “Does that represent the majority of ratepayers in your district?” Hatfield responded that it did.
Anderson continued: “I was a little bit appalled last meeting in Long Beach, Diana [Thompson], when you stated that you’ve heard a lot of accusations, but no facts. I think that there must have been a little bit of miscommunication here because we’ve presented several things. . . We have the statements from United Rentals, the rental out, the rental in, and the report on damages, the $1,147.64, and I hope you don’t think that we made these up. And that speaks for itself, it was leased to the PUD – you guys have never presented us with anything that shows that this individual had leased it himself. . . The man-lift thing, in my opinion, has changed about four times in the last six months. . . Most recently, the email that came to the commissioners from Doug [Miller] stated that a private individual still had the hour meter in his possession. We asked to see it and we still haven’t seen it. Then last week’s interview [with Doug Miller] by the paper, the Harbor Herald, stated that the hour meter was destroyed in the accident. Those are kind of contrary statements.”
Commissioner Diana Thompson responded to Anderson’s questions: “We’ve heard this before. There is an audit being conducted by the state audit. They’re looking into all of this and they’ll have the results of that in a couple weeks and we’ll deal with it then if there’s anything beyond what we’ve already talked about.”
Next to speak was local resident John Dunsmoor: “I’d like to make a couple comments about the cost reliability regarding the Tokeland/Grayland project. We’ve been told Grays Harbor PUD adequately serves the area with an average reliability factor of 99.9 percent, or no more than 60 minutes per year of power interruption, and that this is typical for a stormy, coastal community. The facts are, the North Cove/Tokeland area was without power 31.76 hours between June 22, 2011 and June 18, 2013. In 24 months, a period averaging 79.4 minutes per month of power interruption, compared to the stated 60 minutes per year. For comparative purposes, this is 15.88 times more power interruption per year, and these have been mild winters, storm wise.”
Ron Craig responded to the issue of power reliability in Tokeland: “It’s a myth that they’re not being served. I think this board has tried to indicate that they’re not being served – they’re being served. And they’re being served very well. . . Pacific County doesn’t have any data to indicate reliability. First of all, reliability isn’t measured in the number of hours of outage, that’s an indicator of it, but that’s not the reliability. Reliability is a number between 0-1. . . But, the fact of the matter is, the data indicates that there is good reliability in Grays Harbor.”
Commissioner Mike Swanson questioned the demand for the extension: “I’m real curious, we’ve had a few people here from Tokeland who said they were having issues with their reliability, but we really haven’t heard much from them at all. I feel they are being served, and I don’t feel it’s worth the expense of bringing our own service. . . I don’t think we’ve heard from a majority, and maybe we should have a meeting out there [in Tokeland] to put it out for them.”
Commissioner Hatfield responded: “If you want to have a meeting, that’s where it should be. . . But as we move forward with this, it’s both been for reliability as well as serving the customers in my district. That’s why I’ve supported it. We already did a lot of the work, halfway to Tokeland, so I for one, that’s why I say I support finishing this project.”
Swanson offered an alternative plan: “What about if we worked with Grays Harbor to improve their reliability? It’d be a whole lot cheaper than it would be for us to bring our own power to those people.”
Thompson and Hatfield responded that they were elected to serve their communities.
Local resident Dick Sheldon pointed out that there are instances where one county serves an area in another county all around the state. Thompson countered that it is typical for a handful of customers to be served by a district in a neighboring county, but it is not usual for an entire community to be left out.
One citizen inquired if it would be presented at the upcoming public meeting how much ratepayers’ bills would go up because of the project.
Commissioner Thompson responded: “The expectation is that the bill is not going to go up. . . What we have done in the past is the PUD goes to the bonds market and uses bond funds to do capital construction. So when the Naselle substation was upgraded, that was money from bonds. It’s not that no one ever pays for it, but it is part of what is built into the current budget, it is part of what is built into current costs and current rates. It’s not an add-on.”
Sheldon questioned the methodology: “And how are those bonds paid off? It’s on your bill, right?”
“Sure,” Thompson admitted.
The upcoming public meetings are scheduled for August 27th in Tokeland, September 9th in Raymond, and September 12th at Long Beach, all at 6 p.m. The board indicated that the locations and times would be further advertised in local papers.
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