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

Chelan PUD board partners with land trust to protect unique property

by Kimberlee Craig | Nov 22, 2016
Joint purchase will secure 26 acres of Columbia River shoreline in a conservation easement

People involved in the five-year effort to protect the property for recreation include, from left: Jeff Smith, Chelan PUD, Cliff and Mary Bates; Sen. Linda Evans Parlette; Dave Bierschbach, WSDOT; and Curt Soper and Bob Bugert, Chelan Douglas Land Trust. A unique natural area along the Apple Capital Loop Trail in Douglas County that features sand dunes and river access will be protected for community use now and for future generations following its expected purchase by Chelan County PUD with financial support from the Chelan Douglas Land Trust, if federal regulators approve.

Chelan PUD commissioners Monday authorized the purchase of the 26.45 acres of land for its fair market value of $458,000. As part
of the agreement, the District will grant a conservation easement to the Land Trust, which is donating $250,000 toward the purchase price in recognition of the recreation benefits.

“It’s been a long time coming and to be part of preserving (the property) for our public in perpetuity is a meaningful thing,” said Commissioner Dennis Bolz.

Curt Soper, Land Trust executive director, said the commitment between all parties that resulted in the purchase is as unique as the land it protects. 

“It’s been an honor and delight for the Land Trust to be a partner with Chelan PUD on this project, because it’s an absolute gem,” Soper said.

The property runs south from Odabashian Bridge, between the Columbia River and the Apple Capital Loop Trail. It is owned by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which acquired the property years ago for a then-proposed highway. It has since been declared surplus to state needs. The land is in the PUD’s Rock Island Hydro Project boundary.

Key financial support for the Land Trust’s involvement came from retired Chelan PUD employee Cliff Bates and his wife, Mary, who were applauded at Monday’s meeting. Bates now lives near Quincy after serving 25 years as a system operator and chief operator at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams. He retired in 2002. The couple was among the original supporters of the proposal to keep the riverfront open for recreation rather than building the highway.

“I think the public will be really pleased with what you’ve done,” Bates said, in recapping his interest in preserving the riverfront since the late 1960s.

The transaction includes a request to federal dam regulators to realign project boundaries on some adjacent property owned by WSDOT, said Jeff Smith, District Services managing director.  The net effect is aligning the project boundary with the trail, both upstream and downstream of the Odabashian Bridge.

“This is a significant moment in history for Chelan County PUD and its customer-owners,” Smith said.

Federal regulators also must approve the conservation easement. Depending on the terms of the approval, the PUD will make a one-time payment of $17,000 to $22,000 to the Land Trust’s Stewardship Fund for perpetual compliance monitoring of the easement. PUD staff believes the purchase is consistent with its responsibilities under the federal license for operating Rock Island Dam.

Smith thanked state transportation officials for their willingness to support the partnership.  Dave Bierschbach, WSDOT assistant regional administrator, thanked the PUD for stepping forward to help secure the property for public access and for its collaboration during the five years it took to complete the agreement.

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, PUD Board President Randy Smith and General Manager Steve Wright thanked Smith for his leadership. “Every organization needs a compass as to what’s important to the community and Jeff certainly was that for this project,” Wright said. 

In other business Monday, commissioners: 

  • Celebrated the official closing of the contract to rebuild Entiat Park and construct the Entiatqua Trail. PUD staff and Entiat Mayor Keith Vradenburg noted the significant collaboration with the city and community that brought the project in below budget while exceeding stakeholder expectations. The PUD rebuilt the park under recreation responsibilities in the new license to operate Rocky Reach Dam.  It is operated by the city of Entiat.  After reviewing final changes, board members ratified the contract with Hurst Construction of Wenatchee for $6.2 million and approved remaining payment.  
  • Held the second hearing on the proposed 2017 budget to gather feedback from customer-owners and review updates since the Nov. 7 hearing. Changes included a slight improvement in the bottom line to an expected $86 million due to an improved operating revenue forecast. Forecast spending on major projects was revised down as cost estimates and scheduling were fine-tuned. Information about the proposed budget is posted at 2017 Budget. Commissioners will be asked to approve the budget at the Dec. 5 meeting.
  • Authorized changes in the contract to rehabilitate units B5 and B8 in the first powerhouse at Rock Island Dam to reduce the risk of cost increases while focus shifts to modernizing units B1-B4.  Commissioners directed staff to order major components for B5 and B8 even though that work is now scheduled for 2020.
  • Heard updates on several Public Power Benefit development projects – Rocky Reach Visitor Center improvements to increase visitor counts and splash pad feasibility studies, an economic analysis tool and a report on the results of the day-use pass pilot study. Commissioners agreed with a staff recommendation that the splash pad and Visitor Center be placed on hold until possible federal legislation and/or regulatory action is taken to address spending in project boundaries and license terms.
  • Received an update on Public Power Benefit broadband expansion. Managing directors Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom, and John Stoll, Customer Utilities, recapped the collaboration that resulted in coordinating electric system safety and reliability improvements with fiber expansion.  The fiber network follows the path of power lines. Investing time in engineering and planning meant construction started a little later than expected. By year end, fiber crews expect to complete network access to 750 locations, less than the target of 1,038 due to the need to address safety conditions. Coleman also identified 2017 fiber in-fill and expansion locations to reach 928 more homes and businesses in Cashmere, Chelan, Leavenworth, Manson and Sunnyslope. 
  • Received an update on renewable diesel fuel and the good news that the PUD supplier is an industry leader in using oil other than palm to protect rainforests in Southeast Asia. Details on the PUD’s renewable diesel use to reduce carbon emissions are posted at chelanpud.org in the “Learning Center.”

Upcoming events:

  • Nov. 24 – Thanksgiving holiday, PUD offices closed
  • Dec. 5 – Board meeting, 10 a.m.
  • Dec. 19 – Board meeting, 10 a.m.
  • Dec. 26 – Christmas Day holiday observed, PUD offices closed

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 The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.  

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.