It takes a big “to do” list to accomplish the four big-picture priorities laid out in Chelan County PUD’s new strategic plan.
On Monday, PUD commissioners and senior managers went through the list of work that will start by the end of March. For the year, there are 218 performance measures being tracked at the District level. (At 00:45 on the board meeting audio recording.)
“The Board and our customer-owners gave us great direction during strategic planning on the added value you expect to see by 2024,” said General Manager Steve Wright. “Now it’s up to us to get the job done.”
The performance plan for 2020 – the “to do” list – puts the focus on the four strategic priorities in the strategic plan:
- Invest in assets and people and seek industry top-quartile performance for hydro generation, retail reliability and safety while improving customer service technology
- Sustain excellent financial resiliency while mitigating the risk of large rate increases
- Enhance the quality of life in Chelan County through programs that distribute the benefits of public power
- Engage in countywide growth planning and job creation while ensuring the District’s rates and policies are stable and predictable
The plan also calls for increased emphasis on innovation and resiliency.
This year’s tasks range from continuing to modernize hydro units and other equipment and starting construction of the new Service Center to construction and/or upgrades at substations and new technology initiatives. The 2020 budget has $170 million earmarked for capital projects.
In addition, the plan lays out efforts to help employees strengthen skills and to develop “technology roadmaps” to bring in 21st-century tools to meet rapidly evolving challenges and provide customers with top-notch service.
Wright said the plan is intentionally ambitious. Tasks are prioritized in case trade-off decisions are needed later in the year. He added that these are the priorities now, and other efforts may come up during the year.
Senior managers will report on progress to PUD commissioners each quarter.
Commissioner Steve McKenna thanked staff for the detailed review. “It’s exciting as a commissioner to have a vision and then see how staff are getting to work to establish a plan to bring it to reality,” McKenna said.
In other business, commissioners:
- Reviewed plans to further discussions with customers on five-year rate changes outlined in the 2020-2024 strategic plan. The proposal reflects customer-owner preference heard during strategic planning for smaller, predictable rate changes to reduce the risk of larger increases in the future. A 3-percent annual change in residential electric rates – about $1.75/month each year – is proposed to focus on the customer, or “basic” charge.” Discounts for low-income senior and disabled customers are proposed to increase at the same time. Commercial and industrial rates changes are proposed at 3 percent across the board. The strategic plan called for 4-percent, per year, changes for water and wastewater rates to help move the systems toward sustainability. Wholesale Fiber rates would go up 3 percent a year through 2024. Staff also recommended the board create a fund to hold revenue from the electric rate changes to help manage the need for future increases. Residential power rates have been the same for eight years and only increased 9 percent since 2000. Inflation for the same time was more than 40 percent. Per the strategic plan, options for adjusting the low-income assistance and energy efficiency programs will be discussed at future board meetings. A hearing on the proposal is set for 1 p.m. at the Feb. 3 board meeting. Discussion will continue at the Jan. 20 board meeting. (00:09)
- Adopted an opt-out program for customers who decide against receiving the benefits offered by advanced meters. The new policy sets a $25 monthly fee to cover costs of manually reading and maintaining non-standard meters. Qualified low-income disabled and low-income senior customers who opt out will receive a 50-percent discount on the monthly fee. Four customers spoke at the meeting of safety, privacy and health concerns about advanced meters and the fairness of an opt-out charge. Commissioner Ann Congdon voted against the fee. (02:05)
- Jan. 18 – Multicultural Festival, 10 a.m., Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center
- Jan. 20 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m.
- Jan. 20 – Office lobbies closed for annual staff training
- Feb. 4 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m.
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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, 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 at Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.
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