Public Power Benefit Program

Public Power Benefits are projects selected by the Board of Commissioners. These projects contribute to improving the quality of life in our county. Public Power Benefit projects were developed as part of the 2015 Chelan PUD strategic plan and are designed to provide the best to the most for the longest period of time.

Funded projects have included: expansion of the PUD fiber network to more homes throughout the county during the next ten years; creating a Day Use Parking Pass program that allows county residents to visit the three PUD Parks managed by the State of Washington – Daroga, Lincoln Rock and Wenatchee Confluence – and park for free – much like a Discover Pass; installation of electric vehicle charging stations at up to nine PUD facilities around the county; restoration of the Horan habitat area to a wetland; a feasibility study for a possible splash pad area in one of the PUD’s parks; and much more.

Although we aren’t currently accepting new applications, we always are interested in hearing about great new ideas. We welcome your thoughts. You can send project suggestions directly to customerhelp@chelanpud.org

What is the Public Power Benefit program?

The Public Power Benefit program invests a portion of available revenues in ways that enhance quality of life in Chelan County. The program is designed to include customer-owners in the decision-making process.

What are the benefits?

Investments made under the Public Power Benefit program must fall within the PUD's authority as a public utility. Benefits might come in the form of services like expanded fiber availability, or an amenity like a water feature at a park. Benefits are optional, and are intended to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County. They are funded using a portion of electric revenues, as determined annually by Commissioners. This is a new program as of 2015, and Commissioners are currently focusing on the five project areas listed on the Projects page.

Where do the funds come from?

As of 2015, less than one-fifth of Chelan County power is used in Chelan County by retail customers. The rest is sold through contracts to other utilities, Alcoa, or on the wholesale power market. Here is an example from the 2014 adopted budget.

PPB News

Commissioners hear recommendation on new rate for high density loads

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 07, 2016
Goal of recommended rate and upfront charge is to recover cost of service over time

Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday heard staff’s recommended rate design for high density loads (HDL) such as data servers, block-chain and bitcoin operations and continued the hearing on the rate until 1 p.m. on June 20 at their next business meeting.

The proposed rate, based on board guidance provided in March, would apply to technology operations with an average electrical load up to and including 5 average megawatts at a single meter. The proposed rate would apply to businesses likely to have an energy use intensity of 250 kilowatt hours per square foot per year.    

Lindsey Mohns, Customer Utilities business adviser, said goal of the rate recommendation is to recover the cost of service over time. Staff recommends a rate that covers the production cost of the energy, plus full recovery of customer and delivery costs. In addition, there would be an upfront charge of $190 per kilowatt of new or increased HDL load.  Other key points include:

  • Mitigates risk of increased rate pressure for existing customer classes
  • Equates to average costs of about 4.57 cents/kWh plus upfront costs
  • Based on commercial and industrial rate class costs   

Board members also asked General Counsel Erik Wahlquist for analysis of possible contracts for phasing in the rate for existing customers classified as energy intense users, who are using more than 200 kilowatts and have made substantial capital investments.   

Monday’s discussion continued a public hearing on the proposed HDL rate that started on Feb. 1, 2016.  Board members and PUD staff have worked on the issue since late 2014 following a spike in the number and size of electric service inquires with the potential for doubling existing load.  Commissioners put in place a moratorium on new loads of 1 average megawatt or more on Dec. 15, 2014, later modifying it to cover just high density loads.  

A hearing on the moratorium is set for Oct. 3, by which time the new HDL rate is expected to be place.  

In other business Monday, commissioners: 

  • Reviewed philosophy and strategy for managing debt designed to create financial flexibility to support low and stable electric rates – even if financial results are lower than expected.  Debt strategy would include continuing to pay down debt, targeting a debt ratio of less than 35 percent by 2019 and beyond and considering possible new borrowing in the mid-2020s, depending on meeting District strategic goals and continued strong finances. Heather Irelan, lead Treasury analyst, said the strategy foresees no need for electric rate increases to meet financial objectives for at least five years, except under financially stressed conditions. It supports continuing the Public Power Benefit as long as bottom line results remain strong, balanced with future commitments. Board members will be asked to affirm the strategy on June 20. It will be used in business planning starting in the fall as part of annual budgeting.
  • Reviewed the revised portfolio analysis  of the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan that outlines the sources of power needed to supply PUD customers through 2026. It describes the mix of resources from generation, conservation and efficiency and new renewable energy that will meet current and projected needs at the lowest reasonable cost and risk to the utility and its customer-owners. Commissioners will be asked to approve the state-required plan on June 20. Comments can be sent to contactus@chelanpud.org.
  • Approved a Temporary Water Right Mitigation Agreement and directed the general manager to execute the agreement as a member of the regional water system under the terms set forth. Chelan PUD is a member of the regional system with the city of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee Water District. Three PUD commissioners voted in favor of the agreement between Crown Columbia Water Resources, a Delaware limited liability company, and the regional system. Commissioners Carnan Bergren and Ann Congdon abstained.
  • Heard that an opportunity to improve electric service in Yaksum Canyon and along Mission Creek outside Cashmere will shift planned fiber expansion for those areas to a priority for next year.  Mike Coleman, Telecomm and Fiber managing director, and John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said collaboration between Fiber and electric Distribution engineers revealed reliability and efficiency benefits in rebuilding the electric system in those areas before expanding fiber.  Stoll said about 265 poles in the two areas are 50-plus years old and in need of replacement in the next five years.  This change will provide both improved electrical system reliability as well as fiber access in a single project.  The broadband network follows the same path as PUD power lines. The Cashmere-area work for this year will shift to the so-called “doughnut hole” along Olive Street and Blue Star Way, in addition to the new access being built on Tigner Road.

 Upcoming events:

  • June 17 – 7 p.m., PUD Night at the Wenatchee AppleSox
  • June 20 – 10 a.m., commission meeting, boardroom
  • June 20 – 1 p.m. , public hearing on High Density Load rate, boardroom
  • June 20 – 1 p.m., public hearing, 2016 Integrated Resource Plan, boardroom (following the HDL hearing), boardroom
  • June 28 – 6 p.m., community update on Bavarian Substation, Leavenworth City Hall
  • July 4 – Holiday, PUD offices closed
  • July 4 – 3-10 p.m., Independence Day Celebration, PUD’s Walla Walla Point Park
  • July 5 – 10 a.m., commission meeting (moved to Tuesday due to the holiday)
  • July 18 – 10 a.m. , commission meeting
Revenue Generation (2014 Adopted Budget)

As revenues flow in, they are first used to reinvest in core assets, pay down debt, and maintain cash reserves. After that, Commissioners may choose to set aside some money for Public Power Benefits.

How did the program come about?

In January of 2014, PUD Commissioners launched a community conversation called Our Public Power, the Next Generation. More than a thousand customer-owners shared ideas for investing in the future. This public input informed priorities in the District's 2015 strategic plan and became the basis for the Public Power Benefit program.