Proposed 2014 budget has Chelan PUD on track to meet financial targets and customer priorities
Chelan County PUD
Chelan PUD commissioners Monday held their second public meeting on the proposed 2014 budget. The forecast for next year’s combined bottom line shows positive results with an increase of about $500,000 above earlier estimates of $85 million. Expected operating expenses were trimmed by about $1 million, and wholesale revenue expectations adjusted down by about $500,000, said Mark O’Bryan, strategic financial planning director.
Overall, the 2014 spending plan forecasts Chelan PUD will end next year with a combined positive bottom line of $85.5 million. Total spending is forecast at $226 million including capital expenditures for major projects of $52.6 million. Among the biggest expense items are repairs to return the four largest generating units at Rocky Reach Dam to service, upgrades and/or replacement of other equipment at the dams, electric distribution improvements and rebuilding Entiat Park. In addition, plans are to reduce long-term debt by another $82 million, or about 10 percent, to $735 million, which is ahead of earlier debt reduction targets.
Electric rates will stay the same. Commissioners will consider staff recommendations to increase water rates (about $3 a month for the average residential customer) and wastewater rates (about $6 a month) following community meetings in Wenatchee at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, in the PUD Headquarters Auditorium, and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Leavenworth PUD Auditorium, 222 Chumstick Hwy. Action could follow a final hearing set at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the regular board meeting.
Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom managing director, recapped accomplishments and progress made toward meeting strategic objectives for the fiber system. He also laid out next year’s plans that include adding two employees to help reduce the backlog of connection requests, review and revising rates and fees, continued technology upgrades and work with service providers to remove batteries from fiber power supplies.
Commissioners will accept final comments and be asked to take action on the 2014 budget at the Dec. 2 meeting.
In other business at Monday’s board meeting, commissioners:
- Heard that disassembly of the C10 turbine at Rocky Reach Dam is done. The unit has been off-line since March of this year. The repair and rebuild schedule will be developed in the coming weeks. Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director added that the C6 turbine that has been out of service since August for maintenance unrelated to the C8 – C11 units, is scheduled to come back into service Dec. 20, returning the number of units generating electricity to seven.
- Heard that District energy savings from conservation programs called for by state law are approaching 6.5 average megawatts since 2010 - enough electricity to serve some 3,900 Pacific Northwest homes. Andrew Grassell, energy development and conservation manager, also provided an update on the conservation potential assessment used to propose a 2014-2015 target of 2.08 average megawatts. Commissioners are scheduled to take action on the proposal at the Dec. 2 meeting. Staff plans continued use of successful conservation programs to offer customers cost-effective energy-saving opportunities for homes and businesses that meet state law.
- Received an update on plans to start the next phase of the District’s strategic plan. The current plan runs through 2014. An extensive customer and employee outreach program is planned and a resolution was passed bringing on board be clearly of Leavenworth, the local consulting group that helped the Wenatchee School District with the Wenatchee Learns community engagement program. In addition, a customer satisfaction benchmarking study is scheduled to get underway before the end of the year to help inform strategic planning.
- Approved a cost-sharing agreement with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Bonneville Power Administration to meet mitigation responsibilities for Okanogan spring and summer Chinook salmon raised at Chief Joseph Hatchery near Bridgeport. Chelan PUD will share costs for monitoring and evaluating the hatchery programs, estimated at $125,000 a year. The agreement also continues the District’s commitment to operating and maintaining its Similkameen Acclimation ponds for final release of salmon raised at Chief Joseph Hatchery.
*** The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Most PUD commission meetings are recorded, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org.
Chelan County PUD
Public Information Officer
(509) 661-4320, office
(509) 679-6858, mobile
Link to board meeting.