Grant PUD fiber program to be discussed Sept. 28

Print Article

Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Grant County PUD chief financial officer Jeff Bishop (front) gives commissioners a look at the budget presentation that will be given to the public.

EPHRATA — Grant County PUD commissioners will discuss the future of the district’s fiber program during the commission’s Sept. 26 morning session. The discussion will begin at 9 a.m. in the conference room at the Hydro Office Building at Wanapum Dam, 14352 Highway 243.

That follows an extensive discussion about fiber and its future during a 2018 budget review at the regular commission Tuesday.

Chief financial officer Jeff Bishop presented the information that will be given to customers at public hearings on the budget scheduled for October. During that presentation commissioner Dale Walker said he thought the commissioners should include money in the budget for the continuing buildout of the fiber system.

The current fiber system reaches about 70 percent of the customer base. One conclusion from a review currently underway was that the PUD doesn’t have enough money to complete the buildout without an additional source of revenue, like an increase or surcharge in electrical rates, or reallocating money from other projects.

Utility district officials conducted extensive customer surveys, asking people about the fiber system and where it should go from here. When respondents were asked not to consider the cost, about 70 percent of the people surveyed supported continuing the buildout to the remaining 30 percent without fiber. But when respondents were asked to consider a surcharge on electric rates to pay for the buildout, support dropped to about 43 percent.

Walker said he thought it was important for the potential expense to be included in the budget. Leaving it out would make it difficult for the project to proceed if that was the route commissioners decided to take, he said. Commissioners should also discuss the project and the options with PUD customers, Walker said – if customers say they don’t like it, that ends the discussion.

Commissioner Tom Flint agreed with Walker, “just because I think we need to have this discussion.” Whether or not commissioners decide to continue with the buildout, or defer it, they need to talk about it, Flint commented.

Commissioner Bob Bernd said he was concerned the district would be spending money for little return. Fewer than 50 percent of the customers with access to fiber currently use it. If fewer than 50 percent of the remaining customers tap into the fiber network, the PUD would be putting a lot of money into a project that didn’t provide much revenue when compared to the expense.

Utility district officials are currently working on what Bernd called “a pretty aggressive plan” to market the existing fiber system. “To me, we should put our effort there.”

Commissioner Larry Schaapman said he was concerned the budget hearings traditionally draw a small percentage of PUD customers, which could lead to a misleading impression of what the majority of customers would support. “I’d have to look back at our customer survey – that was pretty recent,” commented commissioner Terry Brewer. “That was an overwhelming percentage that said they didn’t want to pay the additional rate increase.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Public hearings set for Grant PUD budget

September 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald EPHRATA — Grant County PUD customers will get a look at the utility’s proposed 2018 budget at three public hearings in early October. Two hearings are scheduled for Oct. 10, the first at 2 p.m. in t...

Comments

Read More

Pioneer Day coming Saturday to Grant County Museum

September 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald EPHRATA — The Grant County Museum’s summer finale is scheduled – Hey, wait. Is that a gunfight? Why, yes it is. The bad guys are trying to rob the bank and the sheriff will come to the rescue. (Spo...

Comments

Read More

Manweller elected chair of pension committee

September 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald OLYMPIA — Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, was recently elected as chair of the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP). The SCPP is tasked to study issues surrounding policies that affect the s...

Comments

Read More

Free entry to state parks on Sept. 30

September 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — In celebration of National Public Lands Day, a Discover Pass won’t be required to visit Washington’s state parks on Sept. 30. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is inv...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(509) 765-4561
PO Box 910
Moses Lake, WA 98837

©2017 Columbia Basin Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X