Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday unanimously approved purchase of a 1-acre parcel in Wenatchee’s Olds Station industrial area for a new substation that is close to the load center and saves the District on development costs.
Commissioners directed staff to finalize the purchase with Stemilt Growers, which agreed to provide the site for a substation in exchange for future capacity of up to 5 megawatts from the planned 28-megawatt facility. The fruit growing and packing operation will continue to pay for the power it uses per District rates.
The family-owned fruit business is expanding operations in Olds Station and had level land available that’s well located for a new substation near the area’s growing load center.
The new substation, tentatively named “Ohme,” will replace the Olds Station Substation, built in 1979. That station is at 90-percent capacity with aging equipment and not enough room to increase capacity at the location next to the Chelan highway near Keyes Fibre, said Chad Rissman, Distribution director.
In an earlier presentation, Rissman said the agreement with Stemilt grew out of a, “fortunate case of good planning by the PUD,” coming together with the opportunity offered by Stemilt.
Once the agreement is done, next steps are to apply for permits this fall, finish design and build the new substation in 2018-19.
In other business Monday, commissioners:
- Received an update on Public Power Benefit education and job readiness initiatives called for in the strategic plan. Lorna Klemanski, Human Resources, Labor and Safety managing director, recapped progress that includes creating a position and hiring an employee dedicated half-time to utility-focused education and mentoring and creating partnerships and programs to enhance skills for local applicants. HR, Communications and Rocky Reach Visitor Center have worked together on numerous community programs since the program’s launch last year: from Pizza, Pop and Power Tools to River Ramble to Fiestas Decembrina.
- Heard an update on improving the aging customer information system (CIS) to offer “dashboard-type” account management features customers want, provide capacity for increased District technology and create efficiencies for staff. The District’s current customer information system is 14 years old and doesn’t provide the capabilities for increased utility technologies. John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said the team devoted extra time to analyze the wide range of systems offered by vendors to make sure the new system will work with the District’s existing financial and internal control systems as well as planned technology enhancements. Final review of vendor proposals and finalizing contract terms is next with a request for board approval by the end of the year. Installation is planned to start in early 2018.
- Approved joining 10 other PUDs and the city of Richland in a cooperative purchasing agreement with Energy Northwest for buying common goods and/or services such as power poles, transformers, switch gear and conduit. Energy Northwest working with the members developed a joint purchasing program at no cost as a benefit to help members save on buying the common items. Bruce Porter, procurement supervisor, said the agreement will be evaluated after one year. If there’s value, then members will continue the agreement and share purchasing duties for future years.
- Set a special meeting for the Board Workshop on Tuesdays, Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. in the Confluence Technology Center boardroom, 285 Technology Way, in Wenatchee’s Olds Station area.
- Sept. 4 – Labor Day holiday
- Sept. 5 – Board meeting, 10 a.m. (rescheduled due to the holiday)
- Sept. 15-16 – Fiestas Mexicanas, Lincoln Park
- Sept. 19 – Board Workshop, 9 a.m., Confluence Technology Center
- Sept. 19 – Board meeting, 10 a.m.
- Oct. 1-7 – Public Power Week
The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5 (due to the Monday holiday), in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.