Why are you running for this position?
As an electric power engineer I have a deep interest in the utility that serves the area where I grew up. Given the complex energy markets the utility operates in, I believe it is important that at least one of the district commissioners has the technical background necessary to evaluate staff technical proposals and performance.
What qualifies you to hold this position?
I hold a BS degree in Electrical Engineering, Power Option from Washington State University; a MS degree in Electrical Engineering, Power Option from Texas A&M University, and; a MS in Management from Stanford University as a Sloan Fellow.
I completed a 31 year career with Pacific Gas & Electric Company with positions including Manager of Transmission Planning, Manager of Power Control and Assistant to the President. As a consultant I have completed international consulting assignments in Indonesia, the Philippines and China.
I developed the Power Utilities Technology Program at Clark College and currently manage and teach in that program.
As a citizen, I have regularly attended PUD board meetings for many years and I understand the issues the PUD faces.
Describe your top three priorities, should you be elected to this position.
1. Insure that the utility electric and gas purchases and sales minimize the cost of power that effect over 70% of the utility’s annual costs. The focus should be on maintaining stable and competitive electric rates.
2. Support the utility’s excellence record of customer service and maintain the current high quality of utility staff.
3. Insure that internal audit procedures protect the interests of the ratepayers and community.
Describe your relationship with the current Board Members of the PUD.
As a regular attendee at PUD Board Meetings I developed a strong mutual respect for the current commissioners and I am sure that I can work productively and cooperatively with the Board.
How can the PUD work in the creation of sensible incentives for builders, to ensure energy savings while containing costs of labor and materials?
They should have a seat at the table as the utility develops conservation programs and incentives.
How is the PUD presently addressing the requirements of I-937 (Energy Independence Act)?
I-937 had the potential to significantly increase the utility's power supply cost and decrease its access to low cost federal power. The PUD did an excellent job of participation in the legislative process and achieved provisions that limited the impact of I-937 on utility costs to acceptable levels.
What are the broader issues facing our community that the PUD has a role in addressing?
Protection of water quality and ensuring adequate water supplies are important issues, particularly given the groundwater withdrawals associated with the PUD's water supply system. I believe that it is important to develop cooperative relationships with all the agencies that are addressing these issues.
Support of our area educational institutions are critical to maintaining an educated and skilled area workforce. I have had excellent support from the PUD for the Power Utilities Technology Program at Clark College. The PUD should look for other opportunities to support programs that produce the skilled workers the community needs.
What can you do to increase the use of renewable resources, especially solar and wind power by the PUD?
The PUD does not need new resources and both wind and solar generation are significantly more expensive than the resources in the current portfolio. Adding such resources would force the PUD rates, which are already among the highest in the state to increase.
The PUD, however, could encourage customers to install their own solar supplies by minimizing connection costs and agreeing to store energy produced in excess of the customer needs to be returned during periods when the customer’s solar system output is less than their load. Other power agencies such as Hawaiian Electric offers such services that assist homeowners and business in the installations.
What incentives other than reduced costs can the PUD offer consumers to conserve power?
The utility could provide more extensive energy audits to fully inform customers of all of their conservation options. They could also rate the energy efficiency of new homes just as appliances are now energy efficiency rated. Finally, the utility could make it easier for home owners to install charging stations in their homes for electric vehicles.
Consumers who wish to use the Green Lights program pay an additional 10 percent above their monthly costs for the program. What would you do to reduce the cost of using Green Lights?
I have paid for ten Greem Lights Tags which costs me $15/month. $10 of that goes, without any additional fees, to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to support regional renewable projects. The remaining $5 supports renewable projects in the county. The PUD has informed me that they do not impose any fees on the Green Tag purchases.
What threats to the water quality in Clark County need to be addressed? What can you do to improve the health of the aquifer and waterways in Clark County? How can the work of PUD Stream Team be improved?
The PUD could aggressively expand their water supply to customers now using shallow wells which draw on aquifers feeding our streams. They should ensure that their supply wells tap deep aquifers which are not connected to surface water systems.
As a past Habitat Enhancement Project Manager for Fish First, I believe that the Stream Team should focus more on in-stream habitat enhancement rather than the current emphasis primarily on riparian habitat.
What other ideas do you have for harnessing renewable energy and encouraging conservation?
Developing affordable energy storage options is critical to the support of renewable resource alternatives such as solar and wind technologies. The PUD should encourage BPA to actively develop such capability.
The public also needs to be far better informed about the benefits of conservation both to themselves and to society.
Clark offers some rebates to consumers who buy energy-efficient appliances. Do you think this program can be improved? If so, how?
I believe more could be done to educate the public about the benefits of energy efficient appliances. In addition, more could be done to educate appliance sales personnel about those benefits so they become more effective in steering customers to those to those appliances.
Jim with his wife Judi, his sister Mavie and brother Rick at the North Clark Historical Musuem Quilt Show.