Grant PUD update will take about a year

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EPHRATA — The process to determine the Grant County PUD’s response to a substantial increase in requests for new electrical service will take about a year, starting with six months to study all the implications.

General manager Kevin Nordt updated commissioners at the Nov. 14 meeting.

Nordt called the number of requests and inquiries “extraordinary,” and the avalanche of inquiries was the subject of a presentation at the Oct. 24 PUD commission meeting.

The PUD received about 20 inquiries about electrical service in the first three weeks of October alone. The inquiries about service in the last three to four months were “very, very unprecedented,” Nordt said at the Oct. 24 meeting.

Most of the inquiries have come from potential customers in the heavy industry class (classes 14 and 15) and the light industrial class (class 7).

Commissioners Dale Walker, Larry Schaapman and Tom Flint said they had all heard from operators of various Grant County port districts, expressing concern about possible delays in getting electrical service. “For some of these folks, they can’t wait 18 months,” Schaapman explained.

“System studies are probably six months in the making,” Nordt said. What that will mean for rates, when and how the PUD might require more infrastructure and transmission lines, how customers can be prioritized – all that will take at least six additional months, he said.

In the meantime, customers who’ve already inquired about electrical service have been divided into three classes.

Customers who have completed the existing application process and received a commitment for service will get electricity. That includes customers who are almost ready for power and those still in the building stages, as long as they’ve got a commitment for electricity.

Customers who started the existing application process but haven’t finished it will be put on hold. “At this point, with the demand on the system such that we don’t know exactly what we may have available, we’ve got to have those studies and other things done before we can answer those questions.” That’s a “first-in, first-out type of queue,” Nordt commented.

The third group is potential customers who’ve inquired about PUD service, but hadn’t started the application process before October. “We will take the information about what they’re looking for. We’ll keep that in a first-in, first-out order.”

Flint explained at the Oct. 24 meeting he was concerned that some of the inquiries are coming from people who aren’t really serious about building. The new application process should include a way to discourage inquiries that will end up being a waste of employee time, Flint said. Nordt added that that, too, is part of the discussion.

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

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