Public Power Week reminds us of our hydropower resource

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Larry Schaapman

Grant Public Utility District (PUD) celebrates Public Power Week Oct. 1-7. Public Power Week is an annual celebration throughout the nation recognizing the contribution not-for-profit electric utilities make to customers. Grant PUD started in 1938 with a vision of local residents who wanted a county-wide public utility to provide them with affordable, reliable energy. Today, we realize their vision by delivering energy to nearly 40,000 customers both large and small and using the power of the Columbia River to generate more than 2,000 megawatts of clean, reliable, affordable energy.

Public power utilities like Grant PUD are embedded within our communities. That means Grant PUD not only works for the people of Grant County, it is Grant County. As PUD commissioners, we are elected to serve our local customers, and we exist to reflect your voice and intentions.

We live, work and play within our communities. Knowing our friends and neighbors helps us balance the demands of our current customers alongside the needs of future generations. This model, as envisioned by those early settlers of this county, has allowed your PUD to do many great things for residents throughout our history. Most recently this model has enabled Grant PUD to:

· Provide customers with stable and predictable pricing while continuing to provide you with some of the most affordable and reliable energy in the country.

· Invest in our advanced metering program to drive efficiency, keep prices low, and provide more responsive customer service. This project is estimated to save your utility more than $35 million dollars over the next decade.

· Renovate the turbines and generators at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams. We are undertaking this extensive work to replace and rehabilitate aging equipment to continue generating clean, renewable energy for decades to come.

· Protect and enhance natural resources and improve river recreation. We have taken many steps to preserve the region’s history and beauty while still allowing residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy all that Grant County provides. We operate 19 recreation sites along our stretch of the Columbia River which bring in an estimated $34 million annual tourism dollars. We protect thousands of acres of sensitive wildlife habitat, preserve more than 1,200 cultural sites, and release more than 10 million juvenile fish into native habitat every year.

As a not-for-profit public power utility, our loyalty is to our customers first and foremost. We take pride in the way we collectively power our local way of life. We hope that you will come learn more about our plans to continue delivering excellence in service and leadership by attending one of our public budget meetings. The budget meetings will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 10 at our Commission Room in Ephrata and that evening at 6 p.m. at the Fire Hall in Moses Lake. We will also hold a budget meeting on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. in our Hydro Office Building near Wanapum Dam.

We thank you for your support of public power — an American tradition that works.

Larry Schaapman is Grant County PUD’s commission president.

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