Commission Meeting News

Innovative Hydropower Research Institute moves forward

by Kimberlee Craig | Jul 09, 2018

Chelan PUD commissioners Monday moved a step closer to creating a new, nonprofit research institute with the goal of helping dam operators around the world improve operations and supporting a hydropower technology hub in the Wenatchee Valley. (02:10)

Commissioners unanimously authorized the approval of a “Bridging” Agreement” that sets in motion forming the Hydropower Research Institute (HRI), appointing directors and filing Articles of Incorporation.

“I would move we approve (the resolution) - with excitement!” said Commissioner Randy Smith. (02:20)

Commissioners have approved $1.05 million in Public Power Benefit funding for hydropower research. Earlier this year they allocated an initial $500,000 of those PPB funds to launch the new Institute.

The initial focus of the nonprofit institute will be to collect and compile operating data from hydroelectric generators and coordinate analysis and research on operations with the potential, to:

  • Reduce costs and increase revenues by reducing forced outages
  • Develop new sensors and monitors to improve predictive capabilities

Memberships, subscriptions and the ability to apply for grants would bring in added funding. Local agriculture, education and technology groups also support the institute.

Chelan PUD is the founding HRI member. Signing up other dam owners and subscribers will follow the filing of articles of incorporation. A Board of Directors will oversee the institute. General Manager Steve Wright will appoint Chelan PUD’s representatives to that board.   

Other steps under Monday’s board action include hiring a Certified Public Accountant and an attorney and setting up a bank account, said Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director. Inspiration for the institute came from the community during strategic planning.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest in the industry, and it is really exciting that Chelan County will be a place where hydro project owners, researchers, students, manufacturers and suppliers can come together to move the industry forward in the digital transformation” Hudson said.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard plans from staff on moving to independent dam operations at Rock Island and Rocky Reach. The District’s joint operation agreement with Grant PUD ends in May 2019. Plans are in place to shift coordination responsibilities to Chelan PUD staff. (00:47)
  • Received an update on new electric service requests. Chad Rissman, Asset Management director, and Andy Wendell, Customer Service director, reported on the continued growth in Chelan County driving new customer service requests and the efforts of Chelan County, the PUD and the five cities to coordinate planning. (00:20)
  • Reviewed initial definitions of cryptocurrency operations in advance of the public hearing scheduled for Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. (01:05)
  • Were briefed on the need for a revised agreement with the City of Entiat that confirms Entiat’s plans to locate, own, construct and operate a 65-slip marina within the Rocky Reach Project Boundary.(00:06)  Mayor John Alt noted the important role the marina will play in Entiat’s economy and PUD staff support in moving the project forward during seven years of planning and permit applications. (01:00)
  • Recognized Line Worker Appreciation Day on Tuesday, July 10. “I really appreciate what you do,” said Commissioner Smith. Tim Pettit, Line Operations manager, and superintendents Dan Moser and Cody Murdock, all journeyman linemen, thanked board members for their support. “For the crews, it’s nice to be recognized with a honk and a friendly wave,” Moser said. Added Murdock, “When others are running out, we’re going in.” (02:00)  
  • Set a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. on July 30 at Visconti’s, 1737 N. Wenatchee Ave. for a Mid-C Commissioners and General Managers dinner. 

Upcoming events:

  • July 10 – Line Worker Appreciation Day
  • July 22 – Hydropower Appreciation Dat at the Mariners, 1 p.m., Safeco Field
  • July 23 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom (rescheduled)
  • July 30 – Mid-C Commissioners and General Managers meeting, 5:30 p.m., Visconti’s in Wenatchee.
  • Aug. 6 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom; and 1 p.m. public hearing on the cryptocurrency operation application moratorium
  • Aug. 7 – National Night Out, 6 p.m., Centennial Park, Wenatchee
  • Aug. 20 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom

The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 23 (rescheduled).