by Diana Zimmerman
Conservation was the hot topic at the Wahkiakum PUD Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
General Manager Dave Tramblie apprised the commissioners about the changing conservation program at Bonneville Power Administration. Until now, the PUD has had a budget of $50,000 each year to encourage local customers to take part in rebate programs and make energy saving improvements around their homes and businesses including things like windows, insulation and lighting. BPA reimbursed the PUD each quarter for these rebates.
Now BPA wants to do things a little differently and according to Tramblie, have offered up two options.
"They intend to have a contract with a third party that we would have to enter into with that third party," Tramblie said. "The program would be run much the way it is now. The other option is what Bonneville calls 'billing credits'. Within that program, we would follow the same rules and pay our customers similarly what we pay now, but Bonneville would reimburse that $50,000 that we spend each year over the course of 12 years. So we would get $350 credit each month for 12 years for money that we spend today."
"It doesn't sound like a very good program for the PUD," Tramblie continued. "It's my intention to not go down that path. There isn't a lot of support for the third party contract option so that is still kind of a work in progress and we're going to have to think about whether we want to sign that contract or not. We may not have a lot of choice if we want to continue our program."
The PUD has to make a decision in April.
Mark Farrell, who works for a home remodeling company in Portland, spoke as a representative for local resident Gerald Myers, who is considering the purchase of a a solar panel system.
"Meyers' motivations are multiple," Farrell said. "He's interested in the changing energy system and wants to be part of the example of people who are using solar technology to interconnect with the grid. He believes that this is something we should be doing collectively
"The state of Washington has a Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive Payment Program," Farrell continued. "The utility would get all the costs back from the state via tax credit. I'm here because Gerald couldn't make it, to urge the commission to consider it and go forward with the program to help him and others who may want to invest in solar for their homes."
Bruce and Teri Satterlund attended the meeting for the same reason. The Satterlunds already have solar panels installed at home.
"We're getting about 10 kilowatts a day, which is about 300 a month." Bruce Satterlund said. "This will be the least amount of sun we'll get in the year. It's almost supplying everything that we use on a monthly basis."
Commissioner Dennis Reid was happy to address their concerns.
"We are going forward with that," Reid said. "We had a representative from the state last week to tell us about the program and we have another person coming on March 3. When we have all the information, we will make a decision on what we are going to do. I think it's a pretty positive thing, we just need to get all the details."
The next meeting is scheduled for March 3, 2015 in the PUD meeting room.
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