Supply chain disruptions, unpredictable lead times, and unexpected price spikes of common materials has the PUD and its customers struggling to meet construction timelines for electrical and fiber optic projects. We are monitoring the situation very closely with our suppliers, adjusting our standards to allow for alternate materials, and modifying our internal processes to prioritize and ensure the best possible outcomes for customer jobs. Mason PUD 3 is also working to boost our inventory levels and search for additional product beyond our normal supply chains and construction practices. Although we don’t want to cause alarm, we do want customers to prepare accordingly as the delays may impact construction and financing contracts and timelines.
We are seeing major shortages and issues in the following areas related to the utility industry:
- Raw Material Shortages (metals – particularly vaults, transformers, meters, brackets, washers, and wire; silicone and petroleum-based products, including polyurethane, paint, and PVC particularly conduit, elbows; many plastic resins; fiber optic cables and components)
- Global Semiconductor Chip Shortage – for electronic devices that run our fiber optic network, and for ramping up production to meet demands at the factories.
- Transportation Logistics - Trucking companies continue to lack drivers and the backlog and delays in the manufacturing processes impact scheduling. Additionally, the customs process for specialty items is also delayed.
- Shutdowns at Factories - during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a severe backlog in manufacturing that plants are still working to overcome. The small number of manufacturers for certain electrical supplies only compounds this issue.
- Changes in Environmental Requirements for Poles - have impacted the largest pole provider for the electrical industry.
- Shortage of Telecommunications Supplies due to Numerous Grants for Broadband Expansion and the great need for improved internet services all across the nation.
- Labor Issues
- Increased Demand due to Rapid Recovery in Consumer Spending.
While we are seeing progress in some areas, the target continually moves. A different material seems to be impacted on a weekly basis. The PUD has a large backlog of orders that have extremely long lead times and often lead times are changed at the last minute. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers, and we will continue to do our best to meet our customers’ needs, however many of these delays are beyond our control.