Meeting of Commissioners of
Public Utility District No. 1 of Clark County, Washington
October 18, 2022
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, October 18, 2022.
Present: President Nancy Barnes, Vice President Jane Van Dyke, Secretary Jim Malinowski Commissioners, CEO/General Manager Lena Wittler, Director of Energy Resources Dan Bedbury, Director of Finance Melissa Ankeny, Director of Employee Resources Nichole Reitzenstein, Director of Communications Erica Erland, Director of Water Doug Quinn, Director of Customer Service Lisa Fix, General Counsel John Eldridge, Power Manager Steve Andersen, Manager of Engineering and System Planning Ryan Kerr, Community Engagement Specialist Morgan Van Fleet and Assistant to the CEO/General Manager Margaret Anderson.
Staff present via digital conference (phone or video): Director of Engineering Cal Morris and Media Specialist Dameon Pesanti.
Others present via digital conference (phone or video) or in person: Virginia Nugent, Jack Nugent, Monty Stahl, Todd Bearend, Peter Harrison, Rick Marshall, Norm Smith, Jeff Groff, Kelly Driver, Thomas/Diana Gordon, Ben Richards, Cathryn Chudy, Sean Reagan, Mark Zorica, Dana Zentz and Selkirk Sun Representative.
Press representatives: None
At 9:00 a.m., President Barnes called the meeting to order for the transaction of formal business and noted a quorum was present and the agenda was approved as presented. (Materials A).
The following represents a brief summary of comments made by members of the public in attendance:
Cathryn Chudy provided comments on the Climate Commitment Act and shared that the Department of Ecology is taking public input to identify communities overburdened with air pollution. Ms. Chudy shared concerns about the Utility’s plans to continue to operation the River Road Generating Plant.
Virginia Nugent urged the Utility to develop a new plan to phase out the River Road Generating Plant, say we cannot meting the IPCC goal if the utility adopts the flex plant and continue to run the plant. Ms. Nugent shared her thoughts on transition to renewable energy and that the focus should not be on low rates.
Ben Richards a resident of Pend Oreille County reviewed an Op Ed he prepared that was published in the Newport Miner. In summary, Mr. Richards shared his skepticism regarding the Bitmain/Allrise plans for the mill restart and financial stability for ratepayers of Pend Oreille should Clark Public Utilities not sign the Box Canyon agreement.
Monty Stahl with Merkle Standard shared his concerns with the speed at which Pend Oreille PUD used to move the agreement with Clark Public Utilities to purchase Box Canyon hydropower forward. Mr. Stahl asked the Commissioner to pause approving the agreement in order to provide the residents of Pend Oreille to review the documents.
Todd Bearend with Merkle Standard and resident of Pend Oreille County echoed Mr. Stahl’s comments and urged the board to pause on approving the agreement with Pend Oreille PUD surround the purchase of power from Box Canyon.
Peter Harrison shared his thoughts on power purchases and the process the PUD should go through when making those decisions. Thought should be put to jobs along with the effects on the ecology.
Written comments were submitted by Cathryn Chudy, Virginia Nugent and Ben Richards, copies of these comments may be obtained by contacting Margaret Anderson at [email protected] or 360-992-3378.
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Consideration of the Minutes of October 4, 2022
There were no changes.
Consideration of Accounts Payable
The board, by a unanimous vote, approved the following payment amounts as listed on the Letter of Transmittal dated October 18, 2022 from the District Auditor (Materials C):
Electric Revenue Fund – $14,735,319.01
Water Revenue Fund – $253,740.10
Generating System Fund – $382,335.38
For a total of $15,371,394.49
Consideration of Purchase Power Agreement with Pend Oreille PUD
Director of Energy Resources Dan Bedbury presented the Box Canyon Hydro Purchase Power Agreement Proposal to the board (Materials D). During the presentation Mr. Bedbury reviewed the Box Canyon capacity, energy, environmental attributes and the Western Resource Adequacy Program (WRAP) qualifying monthly capacity.
The proposed agreement is a 16-year term including year 2026 through 2041, 100% of annual product cost plus an environmental attribute adder, fixed costs with an inflationary adjustment (capped at 1%-6%),
Box Canyon provides the Utility 100% greenhouse gas free energy, long-term firm WRAP required capacity and reduces exposure to market based priced capacity. The agreement will be a key part of Clark Public Utilities Clean Energy Implementation Plan and the move toward compliance with the Clean Energy Transformation Act milestones in 2030 and 2045. Staff is recommending moving forward with the agreement.
Commissioner Malinowski moved to authorize CEO/General Manager Lena Wittler sign the Box Canyon Purchase Power Agreement with Pend Oreille PUD. Commissioner Van Dyke seconded the motion.
Member of the public Monty Stahl urged the board to pause their decision in order to give the citizens and businesses in Pend Oreille more time to review the agreement between the two utilities. Commissioners agreed that they had confidence in the due diligence of the Pend Oreille Commissioners.
Following discussion Commissioner Barnes asked for a vote of the board and it passed unanimously.
Consideration of Uncollectable Debt
Director of Customer Service Lisa Fix presented an overview of uncollectable debt for the first half of 2022 (Materials E). Ms. Fix stated the percentage of net losses from closed accounts to revenue is .23% for the first half of 2022 which is slight up from the historic lows of 2021. The utility continues to compare favorably across the industry in regard to account delinquency, but we are expecting uncollectable account balances increase over the next few years as the impacts of COVID materialize.
Following the presentation, Commissioner Van Dyke moved to transfer $614,530 to uncollectable debt for the first half of 2022. Commissioner Malinowski seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Consideration of Resolution Revising the Hearings Offer Process
Director of Customer Service Lisa Fix reviewed the memo outlining the requested changes to the hearings office process (Materials F). Given the infrequent nature of hearing requests, billing disputes limited to prior six months electric and water consumption, staff is requesting the board authorize the CEO/General Manager to contract with one or more mediation services to select a hearing officer as needed.
Commissioner Van Dyke moved to approve the resolution revising the hearing officer process to allow the CEO/General Manager to contract with one or more mediation services to select a hearing office as needed. Commissioner Malinowski seconded the motion it passed unanimously.
Commissioner Reports and Comments
Commissioner Van Dyke commented on how much she enjoyed the recent Energy Advisor.
Commissioner Barnes reported on her attendance at the Columbia Springs Hooked Event and Public Power Council meetings.
Director of Communications provided the Board with an update on the Nakia Creek fire and how the Utility has responded to county emergency agency coordination requests.
Director of Finance Melissa Ankeny provided the Board with an update on the recent Electric and Generating System Bond sale.
There were no additional public comments.
Other Business before the Board
There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:23 a.m.