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.
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.