OKANOGAN - The first few months of the year continue to be tough hard for Okanogan County Public Utility District power sales.
Ron Gadeberg, director of power resources and telecom services, told commissioners at their April 8 meeting that because of a mild January, followed by a “brutally cold” February and early March, wholesale power sales were $2.1 million less than expected.
Sales are rounding out in April, but it will take a while to recover, he said.
Wholesale sales were better in January than usual, but then the PUD had to buy electricity in February and March when it usually sells, Gadeberg said. Later March was better, but not enough to cover buying power in early March, when prices peaked at more than $900 per megawatt.
Retail sales were lower than usual in January with mild temperatures, but then higher than usual in February. March numbers were not yet available.
Historically, the PUD has been able to recover from shortfalls in the budget as the year goes by, but there are many factors that will make that difficult in a low water year, Gadeberg said.
This year is expected to be a drought year in Okanogan County.
In other business, the board:
-Heard Gadeberg report that telecommunications is picking up more wireless customers. He said he expects to sign two new major contracts to add about $8,500 more revenue per month.
The PUD provides wholesale telecommunications service to retailers, who then sell it to end customers.
-Heard from Construction Design Manager Allen Allie that work will continue through about Aug. 2 to connect the Twisp and Winthrop substations so the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative can be served by the Pateros-to-Twisp transmission line rather than the Loup Loup line.
The co-op serves the upper Methow Valley.
-Heard from Human Resources Manager Katie Pfitzer about hiring last year into this year. The district had nine retirements last year representing 248 years of Okanogan County PUD service.
For new hires last year, the district received 161 applications, interviewed 30 people, had 38 staff members participate on a hiring committee and spent more than 139 hours in the interviewing and selection process, not including the general manager position.
-Approved a contract with Michels for the Twisp-Winthrop 115-kilovolt re-route project, not to exceed $383,014.79. The company will rebuild a half-mile of single-circuit transmission line between the Twisp and Winthrop substations to increase reliability for both the PUD and the co-op.