An individual, also a P.U.D. employee, rented a Genie man-lift from United Rentals Northwest in the summer of 2003 to assist in a personal construction project. This action had nothing to do with P.U.D. No. 2 of Pacific County. The man-lift was delivered to the private individual’s work site on August 4, 2003.
During this same period of time, the P.U.D. was constructing the Oysterville Substation on the North end of the Long Beach Peninsula. It was determined that a piece of equipment such as this man-lift would greatly aide with the Substation construction. The supervisor contacted a number of rental companies in the surrounding area and given that it was the height of the construction season, could not locate any lifts for lease.
The private individual contacted United Rentals Northwest and asked to interrupt the rental and allow the P.U.D. to lease the Genie man lift. This was permitted by United Rentals, so on August 11, 2003, the P.U.D. sent two employees out to the private individual’s personal construction site. The two employees loaded the Genie man lift on a trailer and as they proceeded along the driveway, an accident occurred, damaging the man-lift.
Discussions next ensued between United Rentals Northwest and P.U.D. representatives about the wrecked Genie man lift. United Rentals ultimately told the District that if the P.U.D. covered their costs to process the accident, a total of $1,147.64, that the Utility’s involvement in this incident would be complete. Since the equipment was in the possession of the P.U.D. when the accident occurred, the District was responsible for the damage. The District could have been required to pay the entire cost of the damaged equipment, but when this resolution was offered by United Rentals, it made sense to pay this amount. United Rentals Northwest put together a bill to the P.U.D. for $1,147.64; the District paid and was done with this matter.
Ten Years Later:
A group of individuals has recently questioned this incident. The P.U.D. has responded to these accusations with the following actions:
Comments regarding specific accusations:
United Rentals has verbally stated that a copy of the Risk Report will only be released with receipt of a subpoena. The group asking the questions wants the P.U.D. to subpoena United Rentals for a copy of this document. However, according to the P.U.D. Attorney, since the event was nearly ten years ago the statute of limitations has run out, and due to the lack of a lawsuit, wherein you could request a subpoena, there is no way to secure one at this point in time.
This cannot be the case for three reasons:
1) the hour meter was destroyed in the accident and there was no way to come up with the hours of use,
2) United Rentals used 25.9 hours so that they could come up with a billing that covered their cost of processing the accident, and
3) there was no Purchase Order (PO) number on the bill from United Rentals – the P.U.D. assigns a PO number in all cases for the purchase of material, use of equipment, hiring of contractors, etc. The transfer of the equipment from the private individual to the P.U.D. was accomplished the day before the accident and hence the process of assigning a PO number had not been completed yet. If the District had initially leased the Genie man lift from United Rentals Northwest, a Purchase Order number would have been assigned before the equipment was delivered and included on all paperwork.
Thanks to the Willapa Harbor Herald for soliciting comments from Doug Miller and Jason Dunsmoor on this issue which was first brought up at the P.U.D. Board Meeting on March 5th in Raymond.
A P.U.D. employee did not use equipment that had been leased by the P.U.D. from United Rentals Northwest. This employee did, however, interrupt a personal lease with that company so that the P.U.D. could use the Genie man lift to help with construction of the Oysterville Substation.
The District settled on a price of $1,147.64 payable to United Rentals Northwest that covered their cost and closed the situation involving the accident. If the P.U.D. is at fault for anything concerning this incident, it would be for paying a bill that described use of the equipment that did not happen such as the 25.9 hours. At the time, this dollar amount was much lower than if a claim had been filed with our insurance company for the entire cost of the man lift. The District is self-insured and would have been responsible to pay the full amount. Therefore, paying the $1,147.64 was the lowest cost and best action to take at that time.
Based upon a review of this accident, as described herein, District personnel followed policy and took prudent steps to resolve this issue.
As part of its recent Audit of the P.U.D., and at an additional cost to the District, the State of Washington Auditor’s office will provide forthcoming comments on this incident.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on www.hometowndebate.com 7/29/12. If you would like to respond to this story, go to hometowndebate.com
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