By Brian Parker

Brian Parker represents precincts of Alvadore, Irving, Lancaster, Richardson, Santa Clara, Prairie, Wilkins

1. As a new Emerald PUD board member, what have you learned that has surprised you about public utilities?

Many things surprised me. I was surprised at how many public utilities there are throughout the Northwest and the number of people served by BPA. I was surprised that many public power utility boards are primarily made up of older citizens. That may be because they are retired and have the time to put in.  I do, however, think it is important to have the younger generation to run for public power boards. This will allow a broader cross section of our society to have constructive input.

2. How do EPUD customers benefit from being served by a public utility?

Customer input is most welcome at EPUD and the public is encouraged to come to board meetings and express their point of view, a culture rarely found in privately owned utilities.

3. With so many businesses changing with technology, how do you see Emerald PUD and the utility industry evolving?

On a minute by minute basis, the management of power supplies is becoming much more challenging with regard to green power. Wind and solar resources potentially have a greater variable output because they are weather dependent. That requires other power sources be available on very short notice to keep the power grid stable. Right now, there is no great way to store power. When it is created, it must be sent into the system to balance what is being used.

We on the EPUD board have just authorized the investment in a new metering system. This system has many features, and will enable EPUD to better understand and manage the loads customers put on the system in real time day and night. We feel this will greatly increase our ability to serve customers, and also offer customers information on their usage. That will better enable them to manage their usage and billing.

4. What new Emerald PUD customer partnerships do you hope to see?

I think the above mentioned grid metering system will allow customers to be more involved (if they wish to be) in the real time usage they require, and give them the opportunity to better manage the system, along with EPUD employees. In the future, I feel we will be able to do things such as add timers to a water heater or other large usage item in the household, to reduce load on the system at peak times. This will have the potential to save everyone money.

5. What do you enjoy most about serving on the Emerald PUD board?

EPUD is a power delivery company. Our utility purchases power, and then is paid by customers to deliver the power when and where it is wanted. The electric system, however, can be destroyed by weather events with little warning, leaving customers without power. Like many businesses, these events that are outside of the expected are the risk that we try to plan for. How well we plan for these future unexpected problems will affect the reliability of our power system.

I see it as my job to try to evaluate short term costs, which represent customer’s power rates, against the long term reliability of a well-managed power system. Equally important, is the safety of the employees doing the work to keep the system up and running. I am very impressed by the staff and employees of EPUD. The company culture works very well and it is a pleasure to be able to offer my knowledge to the efforts of others with decades of utility experience.

We on the board try our best to remember that we are authorizing the spending of our customer’s money. So it is important to properly evaluate the benefits of a new expenditure, such as new equipment, against the cost to our constituents’ power rates. I welcome input from anyone who would like to ask questions or offer suggestions as to how these decisions are made.