News

PUD board reviews plan for buildings that could enhance customer experience, save money and improve safety

by Suzanne Hartman | Mar 20, 2017

Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday reviewed a draft strategic facilities plan that covers most of the buildings the PUD owns. The plan suggests that investments in new facilities could enhance the customer experience while producing long-term benefits for PUD customer-owners through increased PUD employee productivity and reduced operation and maintenance costs. 

Dan Frazier, Shared Services director, reported on the nearly two-year look at PUD buildings that was launched at the suggestion of customer-owners during strategic planning. Frazier said the study follows the District’s strategic priority of investing in its assets and people. Analysis included evaluation based on the PUD creating the best value for the most people for the longest period of time.

  • The study concludes that an upfront capital investment on PUD facilities would produce the following benefits for the District and its customer-owners:
  • Provide better average outage response time for customers;
  • The least cost over the long term;
  • Better customer experience when seeking assistance at the PUD, from bill paying, to service requests, to permit applications;
  • Higher employee productivity through efficiencies;
  • Meet code requirements and reduce current safety concerns;
  • Best option for cost predictability; and
  • Contribute to recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees.

A customer advisory group reviewed the facility options and provided unanimous favorable comments to move forward. The analysis was performed in the same manner as the PUD treats investments in its hydropower projects.

The analysis recommends plans to:

  • Build a new, combined headquarters and operations center at a location north of the Wenatchee River and sell existing, duplicative PUD properties.
  • Provide a combination of new construction and renovated structures at Rock Island and Rocky Reach Dams.

The capital investments are estimated at $114 million for the combined headquarters and operations center; $36 million for Rock Island Dam and $33 million for Rocky Reach.  These estimates are preliminary as no formal engineering and design work has been performed. Analysis done so far supports performing more detailed designs to refine plans and cost estimates.

Commissioner McKenna expressed his appreciation for the District’s approach to evaluate decisions on the basis of life-cycle cost rather than focusing only on near-term emergencies.

Commissioners will review the proposal again at the April 3 meeting and take public comment. The Commission will consider directing staff to take the next steps of creating detailed engineering, design and financing actions to pursue the plan.

On a related note, staff analysis was presented confirming the feasibility of the Commissioners’ suggestion to create a financial reserve supporting implementation of a strategic facilities plan. The Commission could act at the April 3 Board meeting to create a financial reserve for facilities.

In other action, Commissioners chose a preferred alternative for building a new electric substation to serve Leavenworth on land between Chumstick Highway and Titus Road, about a mile and half up the highway and owned by the MEND organization. For the new Chelan-area substation, board members agreed with recommendations from staff and a customer advisory group to remove three possible locations from further consideration due to cost and aesthetic issues. The focus will shift to finding a suitable location in an area with fewer impacts on neighbors and closer to where the load is located.  

John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, requested, and the Board affirmed, narrowing the search for a substation location to serve future demand on Lake Chelan’s north shore. Commissioners affirmed staff’s plan to take time for another look at areas with less impact on neighbors from necessary high- and low-voltage power lines following comments made at the March 6 board meeting and at a meeting of the community focus group last week. This group has been meeting for about 18 months to help guide the PUD on its site selection efforts.

Several Chelan community members at Monday’s board meeting agreed with the Commission’s decision to take another look at a location that is closer to where the load currently is located is the best path forward.

In other business Monday, commissioners:  

  • Heard an update on snowpack and forecasted runoff into Lake Chelan. Becky King, senior analyst, saying that 2017 is turning out to be an average year with snowpack at about 95 percent, and lake levels consistent with a normal runoff year;
  • Were briefed on a new agreement between the District and hang gliders and paragliders flying from the top of the Chelan Butte to use Chelan Falls Park as a primary landing zone. Terms of the agreement include a requirement for the gliders to install an informational kiosk at the park; improve signage at the launch site; and provide an insurance certificate naming Chelan PUD as an additional insured. 
  • Were updated on community meetings planned next month to talk with customers about new technology for PUD digital meters. Information about advanced meters and the meeting schedule are on the PUD website

Upcoming events:

  • March 30 – Board workshop, 9 a.m., CTC – 2nd floor large conference room, 285 Technology Center Way
  • March 31 – PUD at Mariachi Festival, Town Toyota Center
  • April 3 -  Board meeting, 10 a.m., Wenatchee boardroom
  • April 15 – Earth Day Fair, Riverwalk Park, Chelan
  • April 17 – Board meeting, 10 a.m. Wenatchee boardroom
  • April 19 – Wenatchee Learns “Careers After School” program visits PUD Fleet Services
  • April 23 – Earth Day Fair, Lions Club Park, Leavenworth, Noon – 4 p.m.

***

The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 3, 2017, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

Outages or Emergencies

Visit our Safety and Outage Center for information, or to report an outage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-877-PUD-8123.

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