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 commissioners continue support for Public Power Benefit projects

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 27, 2017
Allocation includes funds for fiber network expansion, day-use park passes and hydro research

Chelan PUD commissioners Monday affirmed support for Power Benefit project funding for the rest of 2017 and for 2018. Board members allocated $4 million for 2018 that includes $2.5 million for fiber network expansion and continuing the day use parking pass for PUD parks managed by the state.

Board members also continued support for funding three hydro research projects to improve operations, better predict unit conditions and outages and identify research opportunities. They allocated $250,000 from remaining 2017 funds and $250,000 from 2018 funds.

In earlier discussions, commissioner heard that in addition to the value for the PUD and customer-owners, the hydro research projects are attracting interest from other hydro operators. City of Wenatchee and Port of Chelan County officials also support the projects for potential benefits to the local economy if the work attracts new firms to the area. 

The project began with an initial allocation of $250,000 in 2016. Earlier this year, Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director, said focusing on two areas – improving data analysis and developing sensor technology – is expected to put the District in a much better position to identify research opportunities and assess the feasibility of a hydro research institute locating in Chelan County.

Commissioner Garry Arseneault, said the research projects are an exciting use of technology that reflect the PUD’s vision to be an innovative utility.

Also allocated is $1 million from remaining 2017 funds to renovate Rocky Reach Visitor Center’s fish viewing area. Plans include new windows that are double the size of the originals and a new exhibit on the “anatomy” of a river from bank to streambed, plus building work to improve safety. Visitor Services Manager Debbie Gallaher said the work will be the first major improvements for the center since it opened in 1963.

In other business Monday, commissioners: 

  • Honored long-time Visitor Center and community volunteer Jack Pusel of Monitor. The great-grandson of Monitor pioneers, Jack and his wife, Nadine, moved to the area after he retired. He got involved in the community, serving on the Monitor Community Council and becoming Rocky Reach Visitor Center’s first regular volunteer. In 11 years he has led hundreds of dam tours and taught “the wonder of hydropower” to thousands of students. He and his wife also portrayed his grandparents in the living history program, “People of Our Past.”
  • Congratulated the PUD Fleet group on being ranked in the top 100 in North America out of some 38,000 public agency fleets. 2017’s top performers were announced at the National Association of Fleet Administrators annual conference in Florida. Judging was based on an application by the PUD and reviewed by peers, compared with best practices and judged on site visits by industry experts.  “This is a significant industry recognition for our team and it demonstrates how much effort and pride they put into the work they do every day on behalf of customer-owners,” said Lance Knudtson, Fleet Services supervisor.  
  • Joined the city of Wenatchee and Chelan County in proclaiming June 29 “Julio Cruz Day in Chelan County.” The speedy second baseman for the Seattle Mariners in the late 1970s and early ‘80s will throw out the first pitch at PUD Night at the AppleSox on Thursday after spending the day helping with a youth baseball clinic, meeting community leaders and spending time on the field pre-game with AppleSox players. “The Cruzer” held the team’s career record of 290 stolen bases for 25 years until Ichiro broke it in 2008. Julio was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in September 2004.   He’s now a commentator on the Mariner’s Spanish-language broadcasts.
  • Authorized up to $2.1 million for insurance premiums for 2017-2018. Ron Gibbs, insurance and claims manager, said a favorable insurance market and minimal claims history allowed the PUD to increase general liability coverage by $25 million while lowering premiums an estimated 5.5 percent.
  • Started discussions on long-term financial guidance for the PUD’s electric division for planning and forecasting purposes after 2019, when the current strategic plan ends. Discussion will continue at the next meeting, July 10.

Upcoming events:

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The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 10, 2017, 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.