Commissioners look to long-term value for 2018 budget priorities

by Kimberlee Craig | Nov 20, 2017

Commissioners reviewed a variety of proposals designed to create value for customer-owners at Monday’s board meeting. Proposals for refurbishing turbines at Rock Island Powerhouse 2, installing LED streetlights throughout the County and getting on a path to adopting the use of advanced meters were among the items discussed.

Commissioners also reviewed updated information leading up to a Dec. 4 decision on Chelan County PUD’s 2018 budget. Overall, 2018’s proposed capital spending will reflect the most investments in assets in recent years.

Commissioners on Monday reviewed the business case for rehabilitating the eight turbine generators in the second powerhouse at Rock Island Dam.  Based on the benefit to customer-owners, commissioners directed staff to move ahead with planning for that work, and related projects, to ensure the units produce clean, carbon-free hydropower for at least another 40 years.

In support of that direction, Commissioners approved a $5.25 million agreement with a Bellevue consulting engineering firm for further engineering and analysis for the Rock Island projects through 2022.  

Commissioners also reviewed the relationships between securing a new customer information software, advanced meters and related systems for managing meter data. The Commission anticipates making a decision on the strategic direction for adopting smart meters at the Dec. 4 board meeting.

Commissioners heard a proposal to set a new rate for LED streetlights assuring streetlight owners will receive a rate benefit from the more energy efficient lights.

Rock Island Powerhouse 2 rehabilitation

John Sagerser, project manager, and Brett Bickford, Engineering and Project Management director, said extensive analysis showed it was cost-effective to rehabilitate major components of the 1970s-era units such as turbines, generators and related equipment to provide at least 40 years of additional use.

Parts more likely to wear, such as bearings, bushing, seals, fasteners, pumps and motors, will be replaced. Plans call for buying one new generator to keep the project on schedule. It will be installed in the first unit to be rehabbed while following generators are rebuilt.

Work is set to start in 2021 and finish in 2029. An important goal is to have all units operating by 2030 for a scheduled check-in on the Habitat Conservation Plan that protects salmon and steelhead passing the dam, Sagerser said.

Work on the horizontal “bulb” generating units is estimated at $313 million. Other Powerhouse 2 upgrades to be done at the same time mean the District will invest an estimated $352 million now through 2029. $1.8 million is earmarked for project planning in 2018, Sagerser said.

Units in the original Rock Island Dam powerhouse also are being rehabilitated. That work will finish in 2022. (Discussion starts at 0:35 on the meeting audio.)

Customer Information System, Meter Data Management & Advanced Meters

John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, updated board members on progress towards selecting and installing a new system to provide customers better access to account, energy and water use information. Stoll described added value for customers from combining the customer information system with features that can use data provided by advanced meters, if commissioners move ahead with the new meters.

Stoll said the evaluation team also recommends relying on technology offered by potential advanced meters to give customers a slate to choose from for “opt-out” options.

“A technology review through the RFP (request for proposal) process may uncover feasible, attractive options, and not limit proposers to what the utility now knows,” Stoll said.

Stoll said a January 2018 decision on the customer information/meter data management system presents a fork in the road with respect to being on the path to adopting advanced meter technology.  Staff is seeking board guidance in advance of the January decision.  The intent is to have the new customer information system working by early 2019 and, if approved by the Board, installing new advanced meters later in 2019 through 2020. (00:07)

New rate for energy-saving LED streetlights

Andrew Grassell, Energy Development and Conservation manager, outlined a proposal to establish rates for LED streetlights that recognize energy savings and could lead to grants to cover the costs for small cities to install them. 

Grassell said changes in the energy charge for LED streetlights would mean savings of about $1.40 per light each month.  The lower rate also could help Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat and Leavenworth secure state funding to cover up to 100 percent of the cost to install energy-saving LED streetlights.

The proposed rate follows an inventory and audit of streetlights in cities served by Chelan PUD, Grassell said. In addition, the PUD installed test LED streetlights in five Wenatchee neighborhoods and asked for feedback. The few responses were neutral to positive. Not only do LED lamps use less power, studies show they increase safety and reduce night sky effects. 

Three information meetings will be scheduled next month to provide more information and a hearing on the new rate will be held at the board’s first meeting in January. (01:47)

In other business, commissioners

  • Continued review of the 2018 budget that reflects no electric rate increase for the sixth straight year. There were no comments from the public at today’s second hearing. The investment priorities for 2018 focus on increasing long-term value for customer-owners. The proposed spending plan continues investment in the District’s key generating assets driving a $140 million capital budget. The budget reflects the significant modernization work to be done at Rock Island Dam, continued work on the large turbine units at Rocky Reach and scheduled debt reduction. 2018 net surplus energy forecasts show a $9.5 million decrease from the 2017 budget. Overall, the 2018 budget shows a positive bottom line of $71.8 million and meets the required financial policy metrics for 2018. The District also is on track to meet its 2019 goal of a less than 35 percent debt ratio. Commissioners will be asked to approve the 2018 budget on Dec. 4. (02:00)
  • After reviewing Public Power Benefit projects since the strategic priority launched in 2015, commissioners agreed with a recommendation to take a wider look at improvements for Rocky Reach Visitor Center including possibly moving the Museum of the Columbia from the powerhouse to the Visitor Center.  Commissioners also heard the results of the Camping Pass Pilot at Beebe Bridge Park and agreed with staff to put the program on hold until at least 2019 after a new campsite reservation system is in place that will improve the administrative efficiency of the program.  (02:15)

Upcoming events:

  • Nov. 23 – Thanksgiving holiday
  • Dec. 1 – Sage Hills Trail closes
  • Dec.  4 – Board meeting, 10 a.m.
  • Dec. 18 – Board meeting, 10 a.m.
  • Dec. 25 – Christmas holiday
  • Jan. 1, 2018 – New Year’s holiday


The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 4, 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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