Two candidates answer questions at Clallam PUD forum

Marty Michaelis

Marty Michaelis

PORT ANGELES — Rick Paschall is against removing the Snake River dams while Patti Morris intends to have a decision on the issue by the general election. Both are in favor of minimizing greenhouse gases while keeping service dependable and rates low.

Morris and Paschall were the only candidates of the four running in the primary election for the Clallam County Public Utility District 2 seat who showed up at a League of Women Voters virtual forum on Thursday night.

Also on the Aug. 4 primary election ballot are Neil Knutson and Marty Michaelis. Michaelis had declined to participate prior to the forum.

The top two vote-getters in the primary will go on to the Nov. 3 contest.

Paschall focused primarily on upcoming events that he expects to put upward pressure on electrical rates.

He said that Bonneville Power Administration, which provides the electrical power to the district, “is facing a number of issues,” expiration of sales contracts in 2028, Canadian involvement in flood control projects and the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA).

Patti Morris

Patti Morris

“Clallam PUD gets 100 percent of its power from BPA and BPA’s resources is 14 percent thermal,” said Paschall, a retired utility cooperative manager. “If you remove that from the resources stack, which is what CETA does, BPA will be short and must go out into the market,” which will drive prices and rates up, he said.

He said he is not in favor of removing four dams on the Lower Snake River to open them up for salmon, the food of endangered orcas.

Removal of the dams would take about 730 megawatts of energy from the carrying capability of the BPA, Paschal said.

“What that means is that in very low-water years, taking those dams out removes a significant — about 6 percent — of Bonneville’s resources. To replace that, they are going to put in 4,500 megawatts of renewable resources. That gives you an idea of how much intermittent resources you need to have to have the firm capability of meeting the load in the region.

“It’s going to be very expensive and they expect rates to go up 8 to 10 percent — that’s if dams were replaced by thermal resources. Without that, they expect it go up 9 to 20 percent, Paschal said, citing BPA studies.

Morris, a consultant who worked for 28 years for the Tucson Electric Power Company in Arizona, said that she had not yet studied the science involved in the Snake River dam removal question enough to make a decision on whether they should be removed or not.

“I am committed to getting through those documents,” she said, vowing to make a decision before the November general election.

PUD Commissioner Jim Waddell asked the two candidates how they would deal with BPA.

Said Morris: “We need to get really strong and serious with them on negotiating. “I’m a bulldog that doesn’t quit when it comes to negotiating. I like to look at the root cause and see what I can do.

“BPA has lived a life of just passing along what they want to pass along and I want to interrupt that.”

Paschall said that the PUD should be strong members of such regional organizations as the Public Power Council (PPC) “because that is the voice of public power and that is what BPA listens to.”

PPC in June expelled the Clallam County PUD, saying that Waddell had allegedly leaked information that led to protests in Portland, Ore., where the private organization is based. Waddell has said that he had nothing to do with the rally referred to. He advocates removing the Snake River dams and has challenged PPC and other groups that support keeping the dams.

Neither would say if they believe global warming is human-caused but both said climate change is something that must be dealt with.

“I don’t know if it’s man-caused but it is happening and is something we have to deal with,” Paschall said, advocating minimizing greenhouse gases.

Said Morris: We are facing climate change for a number of different reasons and we need to start looking at integration of renewable resources and other environmental issues. We must face it. … You can’t just ignore it.”

To watch the recorded forum, go to tinyurl.com/PDN-PUDforum. The password is 4e?718j8.

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