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 will be developed as part of the 2020-2024 strategic plan. They are designed to provide the best value to the most people 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 was a new program in 2015, and Commissioners initially focused on the five project areas listed on the Projects page.

Where do the funds come from?

In 2015, less than one-fifth of Chelan County power was used in Chelan County by retail customers. The rest was sold through contracts to other utilities, Alcoa, or on the wholesale power market. Here is an example from the 2014 adopted budget.

PPB News

Pacific Lamprey get a successful boost to travel past Rocky Reach Dam

by Kimberlee Craig | Mar 06, 2018
Chelan PUD achieves best passage rate on the Columbia for these ancient fish

No bones, no paired fins and not great swimmers like salmon – that’s why Pacific lamprey can really use some help navigating the Columbia River.  Changes to the fish ladder at Rocky Reach and tracking studies are proving an effective combo for adult lamprey migrating past the dam, Chelan PUD commissioners heard Monday.

Steve Hemstrom, senior fisheries biologist, delivered the good news that 98 percent of adult lamprey that enter the fish ladder at Rocky Reach Dam are traveling on up the Columbia to spawn in streams. (00:13 on the board meeting audio)

“We have reached our objective in the lamprey management plan to achieve passage at Rocky Reach  similar to the best on the Columbia – in fact, we have the best passage results ever measured at any dam,” Hemstrom said.

Pacific lamprey are eel-like fish native to the Columbia River, dating from 450 million years ago. They hatch in freshwater streams, spending up to seven years before migrating to the ocean. There they use their round mouth and raspy teeth to attach to large fish and grow as a parasite off the host. Adults return to the Columbia, traveling upstream to spawn

Lamprey are highly valued in Native American culture and tradition and for their important role in the food chain and stream ecology, Hemstrom said.

Studying and managing lamprey passage at the dam is a term of the license to operate Rocky Reach issued in 2009. A study in 2004 had found that less than half the adult lamprey that started up the ladder at the dam made the trip, Hemstrom said.

Studies on lamprey swimming ability and working with tribes and fish agencies, led to two fish ladder changes:

  • Adding “ramps” to connect concrete steps in the fish ladder, and
  • Putting grates over small gaps in water intakes to keep lamprey from slipping in where they aren’t strong enough to swim out

The ramps give lamprey a place to latch on with the suction-cup mouth and rest while gathering energy for the swim up to the next pool. Both features led to very successful passage, Hemstrom said.

“Congratulations, it’s a great accomplishment,” said Commissioner Ann Congdon.

Chelan PUD will keep working with the tribes and agencies to affirm meeting the passage goal and on other steps, if any, needed to help lamprey successfully pass Rocky Reach, Hemstrom said.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Reviewed progress on evaluating and choosing firms to supply, install and test new systems to manage customer and billing information and move toward advanced electric grid operation. Mark O’Bryan, project manager, also reviewed the project budget of $8 million set after commissioners affirmed the need to install a “top tier” system to maintain rigorous internal controls and financial analysis capabilities for the District’s hydropower operations. Plans are to launch the project in April 2019 and have it ready to use by summer 2019.  (00:56)
  • Heard an update on developing a sustainable response to service requests of more than 5 megawatts, most for cryptocurrency mining. Senior managers identified more than a dozen priority that may be delayed due to the large load requests. General Manager Steve Wright, said staff is moving ahead with hiring contractor expertise, talking with large load requestors on power supply options and meeting with Chelan County commissioners and city councils as they consider actions related to siting large load operations and on safety concerns about smaller operations in residential areas. (00:30)
  • Heard the March 1 forecast for April-July runoff into Lake Chelan is at 106 percent of average based on mountain snowpack and precipitation. Energy analyst John Wasniewski reported on results of last week’s helicopter snow survey. Based on the forecast, lake operations will follow targets set for dry-average years to meet fish, flood control, stream barrier, recreation and erosion control goals. A final runoff forecast will be done on April 1. Columbia River streamflow at Grand Coulee is expected to be 110 percent of average according to the Northwest River Forecast Center.  (03:25)
  • Received a petition from the 134 homeowners on Eagle Creek Road near Leavenworth asking for fiber network access under the Public Power Benefit program. Following discussion on how locations are decided for future expansion, Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom managing director, said Eagle Creek Road is eligible for buildout and will be evaluated, as will other locations, during the annual selection process. Coleman added that homeowners will be kept informed.  (02:04)
  • Set three special meetings:
    • March 12 – Mid-C commissioner and manager dinner, 5:30 p.m. at Mai Lee Thai, 595 Grant Road
    • April 12 – Strategy Partners meeting, 7 a.m., Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Way
    • June 5 – Tri-Commission Meeting, 1 p.m., Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology way

Upcoming events:

  • March 9-11 – KPQ Home Expo, Town Toyota Center
  • March 14 – Senior Tri-Dam Tour, 9-4 p.m.
  • March 19 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • March 23 – Pathways to College/NW Mariachi Festival, 7:30 p.m., Town Toyota Center
  • April 2 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. , boardroom
  • April 16 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • April 30 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom (rescheduled)

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The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 19, 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 for strategic planning and became the basis for the Public Power Benefit program. As part of the PUD’s 2020-2024 strategic plan the utility is updating program criteria and the project selection process that will occur in 2020.