Okanogan County PUD continues to work toward infrastructure repairs and upgrades, this time receiving five bids for steel poles to replace the Okanogan-Brewster transmission line, damaged in the Cold Springs Wildfire last September.
The steel will replace wooden poles in an attempt to further protect the line against future wildfire.
Engineering Manager Allen Allie said in a Jan. 25 board meeting that the bids for the 187 poles ranged as low as $846,000 and as high as $1.75 million, with delivery in 14-18 weeks. The lower offers were below the original estimates. All bidders are qualified and three have been used by the utility in the past.
Staff had not yet had the time to make a recommendation for which bid to accept. The board authorized the general manager to award the contract to the lowest responsive bidder, so long as the bid does not exceed the engineer’s estimate.
Allie also reported that work orders for 2020 in both electric and telecom were up significantly from last year. Between the extra work orders and the fire, crews are facing a backlog of projects.
In other business, the board:
- Heard a report from Chief Engineer Dan Simpson regarding outage statistics for 2020 (the numbers did not include the Cold Springs related outages). The average number of times a customer had an outage was at 1.03, just above the national average of 0.9. The average duration of the outage on the system was about 154 minutes, (national 126 minutes). The average duration of the outage for a customer was 155 minutes, an improvement from 2019 numbers (national 102 minutes). Simpson said the duration is expected to be above the national average because of the PUD’s expansive territory and the amount of travel associated with response.
- Heard from Director of Power Resources and Broadband Services Ron Gadeberg that wholesale power sales were $524,306 more than budgeted for 2020, with December being only $572 off from the budget. Retail power sales through November were still $866,153 less than budgeted, with overall milder temperatures in 2020 leading to lower power usage. Broadband continues to add connections to the network, with 3,487 end users as of Jan. 1, 546 of which are direct fiber.
- Heard that the Okanogan office had closed temporarily to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases in the building. Many staff members were working remotely. Other offices remained open, and the Okanogan office was expected to reopen Feb. 1.
- Approved the surplus of old lighting equipment.