After more than three years of study, Chelan County PUD commissioners Tuesday said now is the time to hear from the community about the proposal to combine customer and utility operations at a new Service Center in north Wenatchee’s Olds Station area. (At 01:05 on the meeting audio recording.)
Open houses in Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat, Leavenworth and Wenatchee are set to start March 18 (see schedule below). Board members invited customers and community members to attend and give feedback on the preferred option.
People who comment at the open house meetings, online or at PUD offices can enter a drawing for an iPad. See details and background at chelanpud.org/ServiceCenter.
In addition to seeing concept drawings for the first time, (attached) commissioners reviewed refreshed analysis of the dollars and cents behind the proposal.
Dan Frazier, Shared Services director, said updated analysis confirms that a combined Service Center is the long-term least-cost option, offering the best customer service and safest working conditions.
“Our evaluation continues to show that a combined service center offers the best value for the most people over the longest time,” Frazier said. Specifically:
- Least cost over the life of the facilities
- Highest employee productivity
- Best customer service, closest to the center of our customer-owners
- Improved safety as current facilities are challenged to meet modern standards
The utility’s business case also identifies the significant cost of staying at existing facilities that need major refurbishment, Frazier said.
Construction cost of a consolidated service and operations center is estimated at $135 million. All other options cost more. Commissioners have $50 million already set aside from previous years when actual positive financial results exceeded budget expectations.
A new, combined center does cost more in the short-term, but provides longer-lasting value -- just like investing in the PUD’s hydro units, he said.
“Our analysis of cost-effectiveness was tested under various scenarios and consolidated facilities consistently came out the best choice for our customer-owners,” Frazier said.
PUD staff also is working with the City of Wenatchee and Port of Chelan County to study potential future uses of the PUD’s property at Fifth Street and Wenatchee Avenue. Each entity has committed up to $75,000 for redevelopment planning focused on creating viable options for future use of the property. Key stakeholders from downtown Wenatchee as well as the entire community are encouraged to get involved.
“Watching this presentation, I realize that no matter how we look at this, the direction we’re going makes the most fiscal sense,” said Commissioner Steve McKenna. (01:20)
Frazier said he’ll be back on April 1 to discuss the results of customer outreach and seek further direction from commissioners.
In other business, commissioners:
- Heard the good news that PUD finances ended last year with a positive bottom line that was $32.5 million more than budget. PUD debt came down another $24 million and results met all financial targets. Achieving a debt ratio below 35 percent – came a year early. Other factors for the good results were reduced spending on major projects and revenues better than budget, reported Craig Kunz, strategic financial planning manager. The positive bottom line of $105.3 million was the best year ever for the PUD. (01:42)
- Listened to the results of a Public Generating Pool study on forecasted impacts of various carbon-reduction efforts on Northwest grid reliability. (00:20)
- Set a special meeting to attend a board workshop at 9 a.m. on April 11 at Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Way, Wenatchee. (02:25)
Service Center open houses, 4-6 p.m.:
- March 18 – Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, 127 S. Mission, Wenatchee
- March 19 – Cashmere Riverside Center, 201 Riverside Drive
- March 20 – Chelan County Fire 3 station, Leavenworth, 228 Chumstick Hwy
- March 21 – Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, Chelan, 216 E. Woodin Ave
- March 25 – Entiat Fire Hall, 2200 Entiat Way
- Feb. 23 – Firewise Day, 10 a.m., Pybus Market
- March 4 –Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
- March 8-10 – KPQ Home and Garden Show, Town Toyota Center
- March 18 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom
- March 29 – Northwest Mariachi Festival, Town Toyota Center
The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 4, 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.
Here for you, providing the best for the most for the longest – chelanpud.org