Chelan PUD commissioners Monday reviewed the building blocks of the 2019 budget including no electric rate increase for the 7th year in a row. (at 00:55 on the meeting audio recording )
Strategic priorities anchor the budget with spending next year following the course set in the 2015 Strategic Plan to focus on “investing in our core assets and people” including:
- Continuing repairs on the large units at Rocky Reach Dam
- Continuing to rebuild units in the first powerhouse at Rock Island Dam
- Installing the new customer information system and initiating procurement of advanced meters
- Improving electric system reliability with new equipment and building substations
Plans also call for paying down another $41 million in debt and keeping the debt ratio below 35 percent. Continued expansion of the fiber network and day use passes for PUD parks operated by the state remain as part of the Public Power Benefit program in the 2019 budget, said Craig Kunz, strategic financial planning manager.
Kunz said low prices in the wholesale power market are forecast to continue, but show some modest signs of improving. Another key consideration is the uncertainty associated with how much cryptocurrency load will locate in the county if the PUD adopts new, proposed cryptocurrency rates later this year.
An earlier update on load growth noted an estimated 15 percent increase in load coming on line by 2020 including fruit storage, schools, hotels, apartments, the new Diamond Foundry and already-approved cryptocurrency operations. Estimates are 4.5 percent load growth in 2019. About 2 percent is considered “organic” growth, with the balance high density loads or cryptocurrency.
In the earlier update, Andy Wendell, Customer Services director, said the PUD has purchased property for four new substations. In addition, studies have started on how to meet growth and reliability needs in downtown Wenatchee and on the south shore of Lake Chelan. (00:40)
“Our strategic plan continues to effectively guide our budgeting processes,” said General Manager Steve Wright. “Next year, though, we expect to revisit strategic planning as we are operating in a rapidly changing environment.”
Staff will bring the draft budget for commission review at the Nov. 5 meeting.
In other business, commissioners:
- Welcomed members of the Shoreline Advisory Group and received a report on recommendations to improve customer engagement on PUD projects covered by the county’s shoreline management plan. (00:15)
- Reviewed survey results from Orondo Park users and received an update on plans by Douglas County Port to continue day use-only operations in 2019 and to work with the PUD on concepts for a “natural” recreation area. Chelan PUD will contribute 50 percent, up to $25,000, toward the park’s 2019 operating expenses. (01:28)
- Reviewed a staff recommendation to revise the scope and budget for Powerhouse 2 cranes at Rock Island Dam, based on lessons learned during recent crane refurbishment at Rocky Reach. (01:05)
- Approved purchase of a 40-acre parcel on Badger Mountain for $460,000 where vital PUD communications equipment is now located under lease. (02:15)
- Set a special meeting at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 5, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave. to see a demonstration of “paperless boardroom” software.
- Nov. 5 – Special meeting, 9:30 a.m., boardroom for software demo
- Nov. 5 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom
- Nov. 7 – Cryptocurrency rate information meeting, 5:30 .m., Confluence Technology Center
- Nov. 12 – Offices closed for Veterans Day (observed)
- Nov. 14 – Careers After School, Line Operations, PUD HQ
- Nov. 19 – Cryptocurrency rate & moratorium hearing, 1 p.m., PUD board room
- Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving holiday, offices closed
- Dec. 3 – Cryptocurrency rate and 2019 budget resolutions
The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org. Find us on Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.