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Board discusses power markets

Friday - June 14, 2019 12:00pm

The Okanogan County PUD board discussed the fluctuating power market at a June 10 meeting.

According to accounting and finance reports, the District is still above its financial targets, but has experienced decreased revenue from power sales and increased expenses for power purchases over the last several months. The District is $2.7 million under budget for revenue from power sales.

Ron Gadeberg, director of power resources and broadband services, said the mild January, followed by brutally cold weather in February and March, and now mild weather again this spring has led to the decreased revenue and increased expenses. Some of that could be recovered over the next several months.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Janet Crossland said that her department is updating financial policies, which include when to tap into the rate stabilization fund, and how to replenish it.

Director of Finance and Accounting Don Coppock said the $6.1 million in rate stabilization hasn’t been tapped into for years, but if finances continue on the downward trend, the District may need to draw on the fund this year.

The District maintains the rate stabilization fund to stabilize customer rates. The District can draw on the fund when needed, and replenish the fund during years when revenue and expenses are more favorable.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved Resolution 1687, supporting the Federal Columbia River System and the four Lower Snake River dams. The resolution states “the District supports the continued operations of the four Lower Snake River dams for the carbon-free, renewable, reliable, low-cost energy they provide making them an important component of a clean energy future,” and opposes removal or breaching of the dams.
  • Heard from Gadeberg that broadband sales are increasing, with additional clientele coming online. He said he is also working with the local Broadband Action Team, which is pursuing planning grants for expanding the system. He said it is too early to know exactly what will be available for the PUD from new state legislation.
  • Heard from Moss Adams auditor Olga Darlington in an exit report from an audit that occurred earlier this year. Darlington reported a clean audit and commended the staff for their courteous cooperation.
  • Held a one-hour executive session, from which three action items were taken:
    • Clarifying for the record that the District is not pursuing re-electrification of Enloe Dam and directing staff not to seek an extension to the FERC license “start of construction” deadline, currently set to expire July 9, 2019.
    • Authorizing staff to explore the benefit of marketing purchased power with Douglas PUD. Douglas is looking at changes in its marketing strategy, to move to hourly purchasing to be more proactive on the market and save money. Many utilities suffered this winter when having to buy power days ahead at high prices and not being able to sell excess power on the hour to recover their expenses.
    • Authorizing staff to enter negotiations on purchasing property for the Ophir substation. The District is currently leasing land and will pursue options for purchase.