Special Meeting of Commissioners of
Public Utility District No. 1 of Clark County, Washington
January 9, 2024
A meeting of Commissioners of Public Utility District No. 1 of Clark County was held at Clark Public Utilities, 1200 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, Washington, on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.
Present: President Jim Malinowski, Vice President Nancy Barnes, Secretary Jane Van Dyke Commissioners, CEO/General Manager Lena Wittler, Director of Finance Melissa Ankeny, Director of Employee Resources Nichole Reitzenstein, Director of Communications and Corporate Citizenship Erica Erland, Director of Engineering Cal Morris, Director of Operations/Interim Director of Water Gene Morris, Director of Information Services Jeff Groff, Director of Energy Services Dan Bedbury, General Counsel John Eldridge, Director of Customer Service Lisa Fix, Power Manager Steve Andersen, Community Engagement Specialist Morgan Van Fleet, Manager of Energy Services Debbie DePetris, Key Accounts Senior Manager Zeecha Van Hoose, Accounting Manager Jackie Maddux, Business Applications Manager Darryl Luther and Assistant to the CEO/General Manager Margaret Anderson.
Staff via digital conference (phone or video): PIO/Media Specialist Dameon Pesanti
Others present via digital conference (phone or video) or in person: Gordon Matthews, Don Steinke, Rick Marshall, Peter Harrison, Robert Mash, David Madore, Nicole Daltoso, Andrew Beall, Steve Castracane, Lynn Blanchard, Jessica Beehner, Brian Nelson, Russ Schneider, Jean Avery, James Oneil, Christine Reynolds and the Washougal School District
Media present: Sarah Wolf – The Columbian
At 9:00 a.m., President Malinowski called the meeting to order for the transaction of formal business and the agenda was approved as presented (Materials B).
The following represents a brief summary of comments made by members of the public in attendance:
Don Steinke shared his concern for the air quality surrounding the River Road Generating Plant and asked who should pay for that poor air quality. Mr. Steinke thanked the utility for the recent community solar project.
Jean Avery thanked Customer Service for the account transfer with her recent move and would like to see more community solar.
If written comments are submitted, they may be obtained by contacting Margaret Anderson at [email protected] or 360-992-3378.
Consideration of the Minutes of December 19, 2023
The minutes were approved as presented.
Consideration of Accounts Payable
The board, by a unanimous vote, approved the following payment amounts as listed on the Letter of Transmittal dated from the District Auditor (Materials C):
Electric Revenue Fund – $46,797,142.42
Water Revenue Fund – $7,752,363.79
Generating System Fund – $25,758,648.49
For a total of $80,308,154.70
Consideration of Resolution for Counterparty Letter of Credit
Director of Finance reviewed the memo dated January 9, 2024 (Materials D). The memo outlined the background behind the need for the letter of credit and the contract terms. The letter of credit facility is with Bank of America in the amount of $10.0 million for the purpose of collateral for counterparty exposure with the Electric System.
Commissioner Barnes moved to approve the Resolution authorizing the establishment of an electric system line of credit agreement with Bank of America determining the maximum amount of available credit, authorizing and directing Clark Public Utilities Director of Finance/Treasurer to determine the amount of credit to be drawn when needed; authorizing the designated utility representatives to execute the credit agreement and related documents. Commissioner Van Dyke seconded the motion and it unanimously passed.
Retail Rate, Cost of Service Study Results and Rate Design Discussion
Power Manager Steve Andersen provided the board with an overview of the issues that impacted the 2023 financials: extreme weather, low hydro generation and high wholesale market prices (Materials E).
Senior Project Manager with EES Consulting Russ Schneider reviewed the 2024 Cost of Service (COSA) and Rate Design Results in addition to Rate Options. Mr. Schneider provided a summary of best practices for rate making and cost of service and rate revenues required. COSA results regarding rebalancing between rate classes and unit costs for rate design were also reviewed during the presentation.
Specific changes to charges by rate class were provided to the board for consideration. These options were broken down by residential, general service and industrial. Each rate class had eight options, four of which included rebalancing between rate classes. Proposed rate changes varied from 9.9%-10.9% with options for basic charge increases across rate classes.
After discussion, the board asked staff to refine the rate design to include some suggested updates to the reserves contribution, increase in the overall rate increase percentage and additional options for the basic charge for the different customer classes. The board agreed that rebalancing, based on the COSA findings, should be part of recommended rate design and directed staff to present only those options in the next discussion.
Member of the public Steve Castracane shared his appreciation for Clark Public Utilities’ rate stability and would like to encourage continued industrial rate consistency.
Members of the public Peter Harrison and Gordon Matthews shared their support for increased contributions to reserves.
Staff thanked the board for the feedback that will inform the continued discussions.
Director of Finance Melissa Ankeny addressed the board (Materials F). Weather was drier than normal, which resulted in electric revenues and off system sales above budget. November residential sales were 105.7% of budget, commercial sales were 106.6% and industrial sales were 94.6% of budget. November ended with a net income of $3.5 million compared to a budgeted net income loss of $484,000. Year-to-date net income is $1.7 million compared to a budgeted net income of $14.1 million.
The Water System ended November with 900 new customers, which is a growth rate of 2.42% year-to-date. November ended with a net income loss of $93,000 compared to a budgeted net income loss of $325,000. Year-to-date net income is $5.7 million compared to a budgeted net income of $1.8 million.
November Wholesale Operations
Power Manager Steve Andersen addressed the board (Materials G). Mr. Andersen provided an update on power supply noting that November Slice generation was 1 aMW above budget and loads in November were 23 aMW above budget. The projected annual Slice generation is near 165 aMW – above last year but less than the budgeted 175 aMW.
Combine Hills II November generation of 11.7 aMW was 34% less than the budgeted 17.9 aMW, generation was 0 MW approximately 60% of all hours.
Clark Public Utilities’ gas hedging program has netted a year-to-date savings of $22.3 million.
Commission Reports and Comments
Commissioner Barnes reported on her attendance at the Pacific Northwest Utility Conference Committee meeting.
Commissioner Malinowski reported on his virtual attendance at the Washington PUD Association Net Metering meeting, noting all three commissioner listened in on that presentation. Commissioner Malinowski praised staff for the Community Solar East presentation at the Governor’s visit to the Port of Camas-Washougal last week.
CEO/General Manager Lena Wittler thanked staff, specifically Clean Energy Program Manager Matt Babbitts, for the success of Community Solar East and the recent recognition the project has received. Ms. Wittler reminded members of the public that the rate discussion will continue at the next Commission Meeting on January 16, and the Public Hearing and rate design Commission action is scheduled for a Special Commission Meeting on January 23. All meetings will take place in the Commission Room at the downtown location at 9 a.m.
Other Business before the Board
There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.