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 sets course for 2018 including largest capital investment in decades

by Kimberlee Craig | Jan 09, 2018
District Performance Plan outlines 321 objectives in addition to core utility work

Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday reviewed and concurred with a 2018 District Performance Plan that includes major investments in the dams and the electric grid to provide customer value  including low-cost, carbon free and highly reliable electric service, other utility services, lake and river access from popular PUD parks and Public Power Benefit projects. (At 01:25 on the board audio recording.)

General Manager Steve Wright introduced the plan, noting it will be a challenge to accomplish.  The 321 objectives include outcomes and timelines – and are in addition to the District’s core utility work. Organized by the seven objectives in the 2015 strategic plan, the plan also ties to the District’s Balanced Scorecard.

The seven objectives support Chelan PUD’s three strategic priorities to:

  • Invest in assets and employees
  • Reduce debt - by another $24 million in 2018 to reach the target 35-percent debt to equity ratio, and
  • Continue Public Power Benefit projects such as broadband network expansion and day use parking passes for  PUD parks operated by the state

The plan outlines 321 objectives; 144 listed a top priority; 161 as a second-level priority; and 16 noted as “stretch” projects.  Many of the projects are in the District’s 2018 capital plan, which is the largest in at least the last 20 years, Wright has said earlier.

“We are focusing on accelerated work at our dams and other assets to get our infrastructure into good shape, providing the resiliency needed to plan for an uncertain wholesale energy market future,” Wright has noted.

The District has had a number of good revenue years recently as predicted. However, the long-term wholesale electricity markets – used to keep customer-owner rates low – have changed dramatically. Lower prices are forecast to affect revenue in the 2020s.

Wright also noted that other priorities might arise during the year. One issue that may put the plan at risk is the changing load growth trends for the county.

Electric load growth: First quarter update

Commissioners heard earlier in the day about the changing load growth trends for the county that are affecting Chelan PUD’s forecasting to serve growth.

Chad Rissman, Distribution director, and Andrew Wendell, Customer Service director, said the county’s strong economy, along with high-tech and cryptocurrency service requests and the county being a recreation and retirement mecca are among factors that require reevaluation of how the PUD forecasts and plans to meet new load.

In the last month, the PUD has received multiple requests for service to loads larger than 5 megawatts (MWs).  These will require new policies and timelines. PUD staff will return to the board in the future to consider how best to address the workload impacts including impacts on the District’s performance objectives.

To deal with growth in loads under 5 MWs, the PUD is adding staff and pursuing technology including advanced meters, accelerating plans for new substations and distribution lines and taking a deep look at revenue sources, rates, policies and service offerings. (00:47

Orondo River Park

Commissioners also approved an interim operating plan for Orondo River Park that will keep it open this year for day use only and boat launching, overseen by the Port of Douglas County. The Port Commission has not yet approved the interim plan. As proposed, camping will close for the year to allow work on safety improvements.  The move also will provide time to plan for long-term park operation, said Michelle Smith, Hydro Licensing/Compliance director.  (00:05)

In October, Douglas Port Executive Director Lisa Parks asked Chelan PUD  to take full ownership and operating responsibility for the park.

The park, built by the port in 1972, has been a PUD recreation site since 1976 under terms of its license to operate Rocky Reach Dam. It is on both port and PUD property.

Smith said plans are to return to the board in May to seek a decision on long-term park operation and ownership through 2052, the term of the federal Rocky Reach Dam license. In the meantime, PUD staff will work with the Port to develop long-term plans for operations and maintenance and on agreements to start 2019.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Approved a rate for municipal LED streetlights that will lower power costs for cities in Chelan County that install the energy-saving lamps. The new rate reflects the energy savings of LED lamps. Andrew Grassell, Energy Development and Conservation manager, said staff at the cities endorsed the proposal. The rate also will make it possible for the cities to apply for grants to help pay for installation.  (02:00)
  • Heard from Nathan Clark, East Wenatchee, who outlined support from a grassroots group that would eliminate cryptocurrency mining because of the impacts on PUDs and the cost of service requests from cryptocurrency operations. (00:42)
  • Were invited to the Multicultural Festival this Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Jan. 13, at Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, sponsored in part by Chelan PUD. Family activities representing more than 25 cultures are planned at the free event. Commissioners also were invited to watch the film, “Switch,” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the museum that offers a look into energy’s future. Chelan PUD is sponsoring the showing, part of the museum’s Environmental Film Series. PUD customers will receive free popcorn and an LED bulb. A $5 donation for the museum is requested.

Upcoming events:

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The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22, 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.