The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Jan. 14 elected Richard Devlin, of Oregon, to be the Council's new chair in 2020, replacing Jennifer Anders, who chaired the Council through 2019. Devlin has served as vice chair for the past year, a post that will now be filled by Montana's Bo Downen. Devlin will also chair the Council's Executive Committee, while Washington's Patrick Oshie will chair the Council's Power Committee. Guy Norman, also of Washington, will continue to chair the Fish and Wildlife Committee, and Idaho's Jeffery Allen will continue to chair the Public Affairs Committee.
The NWPCC appointed three new members to serve on the Independent Scientific Review Panel. They are Patrick Connolly, a retired lead research fish biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia River Research Laboratory; James Seeb, expert in salmon genetics and research professor at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science; and Alisa Wade, research coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey's North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and faculty affiliate at the University of Montana. The Council also approved new appointments of 26 scientists to the Peer Review Groups, which assists the ISRP.
Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, was awarded the annual J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award, by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association on Jan. 13. Case has authored a pair of books on the history of electric cooperatives—"Poles, Wires and War: The Remarkable Untold Story of Rural Electrification and the Vietnam War" and "Power Plays: The U.S. Presidency, Electric Cooperatives and the Transformation of Rural America." In 2012, he launched a statewide magazine.
The Oregon Department of Energy on Jan. 15 announced a new solar and energy storage rebate program. The Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program was established by the Oregon Legislature to offer rebates to residential and low-income service providers that install solar and battery storage. Homeowners are eligible for rebates up to $5,000 for solar and an additional $2,500 for paired energy storage installed together. Low-income service providers—such as nonprofits, municipalities or other organizations serving low-income Oregonians—are eligible for rebates up to $30,000 for solar plus $15,000 for paired storage. ODOE began signing up interested contractors on Jan. 1 and will begin accepting rebate reservations on Jan. 22. Contractors can sign up for the program on ODOE's website.
Okanogan County PUD commissioners approved a 5 cents/kWh bill credit for customers participating in the Sunny Okanogan Community Solar project, reports the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune. The project's nameplate capacity could be as much as 74.4 kW, and it has been approved for state incentives worth 14 cents/kWh, according to the PUD. Okanogan is still weighing whether to proceed or to scrap the project, the newspaper reports. PUD commissioners approved a $58.3 million budget that includes a 2 percent revenue increase and closes the district's Omak office to curb costs.
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to delist Canyon Ferry Reservoir as an invasive species management area, and will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Jan. 22. In 2016, invasive mussel larvae were detected in the reservoir, but after three years with no detections of invasive mussels, the state is seeking to end mandatory inspection requirements. Montana officials previously said the positive detections for either zebra or quagga mussels in both the Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoir were either false positive, or that the mussels failed to take hold. A proposal to delist the Tiber Reservoir is expected in 2021 (CU No. 1859 ).
Mike Gonzalez is the new top public affairs official for Franklin County PUD, effective this month. His predecessor, Debbie Bone-Harris, retired last fall. In addition to serving as a public face for the PUD, Gonzalez will also shape the utility's communications strategy. Gonzalez comes from Phoenix, Ariz., where he was the afternoon anchor for the NBC affiliate. He previously worked at the ABC affiliate based in the Tri-Cities, Wash. A longtime veteran of TV news, Gonzalez also did stints in Spokane, Wash., and Raleigh, N.C.
Mike Paoli has retired from Energy Northwest after more than 10 years, the last six as chief communication officer and manager of public affairs, serving first as the assistant manager of public affairs. Prior experience included a variety of communications and public relations positions over a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, where he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. Stepping into his post will be Carla Martinez.
Chelan County PUD customers can now pay a $25 monthly fee to keep an analog meter, rather than have an advanced meter installed. The fee, which PUD commissioners approved in a 4-1 vote Jan. 6, covers the costs of manually reading and maintaining the meters.