Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) operates three hydroelectric projects providing clean, renewable, affordable power to more than 47,000 customers in Chelan County and to major power purchasers serving 7 million homes and businesses in the Northwest.
The PUD also provides water and sewer service and is building a wholesale fiber-optic network. It is owned by its customers and governed by a locally elected, five-member Board of Commissioners. It was created by a vote of the people of Chelan County in 1936 and delivered its first electric power to a small group of rural customers 11 years later.
Two of our dams are on the mighty Columbia River, and a third sits at the outlet of 50-mile-long Lake Chelan, the third deepest freshwater lake in North America. The hydro projects delivered 9.2 million megawatt hours of electricity in 2006.
About 44 percent of the total generating capacity is available to meet the electrical needs of Chelan County customers, including a portion of Alcoa's Wenatchee aluminum smelter's demand. The balance of generation is delivered throughout the Pacific Northwest to long-term power purchasers Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp., PacificCorp, Douglas County PUD and Portland General Electric Co. Electric power not needed to meet the PUD's local load is sold on the wholesale energy market.
Rock Island Dam was the first to span the Columbia. Built during the Great Depression, its construction provided jobs and hope as well as electricity. Modernization of five units in the original powerhouse moved into high gear in 2006. Installing turbines and rebuilding generators and related systems will ensure another 40 years of useful life. More electricity will be generated from the same amount of water. The fish-friendly turbine design will also provide more protection for young steelhead and salmon passing the dam on the way to the ocean.
Rocky Reach Dam was built in 1956-1961, one in a handful of projects that grew from the vision of local leaders to make sure those who live along the Columbia river share in its benefits. A settlement agreement with agencies, tribes and community stakeholders for a new 50-year license for Rocky Reach was submitted to federal regulators in March 2006 following eight years of collaborative development. Approval is expected in 2007. The District contnues to operate the dam under an annual license after the original 50-year license expired in June 2006.
Lake Chelan Dam received a new 50-year operating license in November 2006, capping a nine-year collaborative effort with agencies, tribes and the community. The District immediately began work on putting the license requirements in place at a cost of $65 million to $70 million over 50 years. Plans call for rehabilitating the two generating units in the Chelan Powerhouse to improve efficiency beginning in 2007.