Now’s the time for Chelan PUD customers to let their hometown utility know if it captured the views of its customer-owners’ in a proposed strategic plan for the next five years.
Chelan PUD commissioners Monday reviewed the draft plan that pulls together comments from customers and the community on key issues and lays out how the utility will respond in 2020-2024.
Board members were pleased with the engagement by customer-owners so far and how the draft plan includes their comments. They asked staff to take the draft plan to the community for review.
PUD staff, “really captured what we’ve been talking about and the input from the public” in the draft, said Commissioner Randy Smith.
“I think this is a really good process, and I appreciate that,” added Commissioner Steve McKenna.
Customers are invited to comment on the draft plan at evening open houses in Wenatchee (Sept. 5) and Leavenworth (Sept. 9), at the Sept. 16 board meeting, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (See details below.)
The proposed strategic plan adds a fourth priority to those in the last plan – “Engage in countywide growth planning and job creation while ensuring the PUD’s rates and policies are stable and predictable.”
There also are updates to the current priorities to reflect customer feedback during this round of planning, and seven proposed actions to support the strategic direction. (See the draft plan at ourpublicpower.org.)
For example, the plan includes as a top priority to invest in assets and people and seek top-quartile performance for services core to customer satisfaction including hydro generation, retail reliability, safety and customer service technology. Sustaining excellent financial resilience, while mitigating the risk of large rate increases, is another priority.
To do that, among the actions proposed, are updating PUD electric rate design, including creation of an account to help keep electric rates stable and in line with inflation, funded by increases of about $1.60 a month on the average residential bill (3%) starting in 2021. In a community-wide survey this spring, three-quarters of PUD customers said they support smaller, annual electric rate increases to reduce the chance of larger increases later. This comes after eight years of no PUD electric rate increases.
Based on survey feedback, the PUD also proposed to bring water and wastewater businesses closer to being self-sustaining through options including annual rate increases of about 4%, Public Power Benefit funding for some wastewater capital improvements and seeking grant funding. Increasing wholesale rates to service providers by 3% is proposed to help Fiber be self-sustaining in the next five years.
All of the proposed actions support the vision of PUD commissioners to provide the best value for the most people for the longest time.
Justin Erickson, District Services managing director, said staff will update board members at the Sept. 16 meeting on comments received. Plans are to ask for board approval of the plan at the Oct. 7 meeting.
In other business, commissioners (There is no audio recording this week due to equipment problems):
- Discussed a proposed resolution supporting carbon-free hydropower and opposing removal of the four lower Snake River dams. Commissioner Randy Smith said he wants to give customer-owners the opportunity for a conversation on the issue. Sixteen other PUDs have passed similar resolutions. Smith and fellow board members are asking for community feedback on the draft measure over the next month. They’ll discuss it again on Sept. 16.
- Heard the good news that Chelan PUD is the American Cultural Resources Association’s 2019 Public Sector Award winner. The award recognizes cultural resource management that shows “accomplishments and commitments above and beyond (what is) required to meet laws and regulations,” said Jennifer Burns, environmental/cultural resource manager.
- Heard that wholesale and other energy-related revenue is forecast at $11.5 million above budget due in part to the premium paid for the PUD’s carbon-free hydropower even though water supply this year is below average. Also, conservation programs, especially for commercial buildings, are bringing in more energy savings than forecast, Energy Resources staff reported.
- Thanked Alex Burkard, contract specialist, for taking personal ownership in reviewing the “boilerplate” in a recent vendor contract and finding several potential risks.
- Set the maximum price for phase one facilities work at Rocky Reach Central Maintenance at $3.6 million. Work will start Aug. 26
- Sept. 2 – Labor Day holiday
- Sept. 3 - Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom (on Tuesday due to the holiday)
- Sept. 5 – Strategic Plan Open House, 6 p.m. Confluence Technology Center (CTC)
- Sept. 9 – Strategic Plan Open House, 5:30 p.m., PUD Leavenworth Office
- Sept. 16 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom
- Sept. 30 – Commission workshop, 9 a.m., CTC
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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 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