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

PUD finances are better than budget for the first three months of the year

by Kimberlee Craig | May 16, 2017
PUD staff recommends continuing quality of life Public Power Benefits at existing levels for 2018

Higher electric revenue due to colder weather combined with lower costs than expected resulted in positive bottom line results that are $6.5 million better than budget for the first quarter of 2017, Chelan PUD commissioners heard Monday. 

Based on first-quarter results, Kelly Boyd, chief financial/risk officer said the District is forecasting to finish the year with positive bottom line results of $93.5 million, about $8 million better than budget. That’s while it continues to invest in valuable assets such as modernizing hydro units and to reduce debt by an additional $52 million this year.

Looking ahead, the district is on track to achieve the debt ratio target of less than 35 percent by 2019, as well as all other financial objectives, Boyd reported.  She noted, however, that long-term, bottom line results are forecast to decline to about $44 million a year by 2021 as market prices for power are moving lower. Reserves are forecasted to be lower, but still strong, as cash is used to reduce debt and to pay for major projects, she said.

Boyd recommended staying the course on the District’s strategic priorities of:

  • Reinvesting in core assets and people
  • Reducing debt
  • Continuing the Public Power Benefit program as funds allow

PUD commissioners also reviewed the Public Power Benefit program that uses revenue that is already earned and available after all District financial metrics have been met for projects to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County. Based on 2016’s strong financial results, staff recommends continuing the program with $4 million for 2018 projects, but not expanding it given forecasts for the long-term decline in the bottom line. Commissioners will be asked for a funding decision and direction on projects at the June 5 board meeting.

In other business Monday, commissioners: 

  • Reviewed the conversations held so far with customer-owners and the community on advanced two-way digital metering. Andrew Wendell, Customer Service director, said PUD staff has talked with more than 400 people at 18 meetings countywide to provide information and answer questions about potential use of the meters.  Information also was mailed to more than 33,000 customer-owners and emailed to more than 32,000 customers. Response has been mostly supportive of the new technology. Wendell said. Customers see value in the ability to monitor their power use, faster response to power outages and reduce PUD operating costs and cutting its carbon footprint. During the community meetings, staff also heard from customers opposed to the technology citing health, data and network security and fire risk concerns. Wendell responded to the concerns, noting those customers strongly support an opt-out policy. Commissioners will be asked for a decision on proceeding with plans for the new meters at the June 5 meeting.  
  • Heard that staff continues to narrow the search for a new substation site on the north shore of Lake Chelan to areas near the load center and north of the Chelan-Wapato transmission line. For the Leavenworth location, endorsed making the preferred alternative a recently acquired property along Chumstick Highway.
  • Celebrated the PUD’s fourth Outstanding Stewards of American Waters (OSAW) award in 10 years, this one for launching the Hydropower STEM Career Academy at Rocky Reach Dam with the Foundation for Water and Energy Education. Visitor Services Manager Debbie Gallaher accepted the award in Washington, D. C., on May 2.  There’s still time for high school students to apply for this year’s academy running June 19-23 at Rocky Reach.
  • Heard that net wholesale revenue from power sales is about $2 million ahead of budget.  Janet Jaspers, Energy Planning and Trading manager, also reported the forecast for Columbia River flow through July is 128 percent of average.
  • Rescinded outdated resolutions that are no longer needed and don’t reflect current practice for attachments on PUD power poles.

Upcoming events:

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.