Imagine 2075

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Our Public Power Legacy 

Nearly 90 years ago, the Chelan County Public Utility District was formed after a vote of the people. Seventy years ago, a series of courageous decisions were made that set our course and put into motion the evolution of the District into a premier provider of clean energy in the Pacific Northwest and as a trusted supplier of other essential utility services including water, wastewater treatment, and broadband. Our assets and strong financial position allow us to measurably improve and enhance the quality of life in our community. This compelling call to action defines our work and points to a central focus: public service – we are owned by the people we serve.  

Legacy is broadly defined as anything handed down from the past. What are we doing with the gifts we’ve inherited and how are we being good ancestors and stewards to those that come after us? Chelan PUD’s 50-year visioning process (Imagine 2075) will help us answer those questions and best align us for a resilient and prosperous future.  

Please join us on this quest.  

What is Imagine 2075?  

While our five-year planning horizon has served us well, we are approaching our next plan differently. Chelan PUD is working on a 50-year strategic vision, Imagine 2075, using a planning process called Strategic Foresight. The strategic foresight process uses data, trends, scenario planning, analysis and feedback to set a course for the future. The foresight process lends itself to situations that have a high degree of uncertainty, where change is rapid, and there are many possible paths to travel. The hope is that even in the face of disruption, good decisions can be made because we have thoughtfully considered alternatives and have clear directions. Other public utility districts have used this process and its use is also widely implemented in the private sector and portions of the federal government. 

What is the difference between this and a strategic plan?  

Strategic plans tend to be more tactical and shorter term. They help form and guide near-term business plans, operational goals, and performance targets. Chelan PUD’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan is a good example of this. Most large public power utilities adopt 3-5 year strategic and/or business plans. The Imagine 2075 effort will result in a 50-year vision that will then be cascaded through business plans and other documents in 2025 and beyond. 

A long-range plan addresses foundational questions – where are we going and who do we want to be when we get there? This approach addresses challenges, opportunities and aspirations in a comprehensive way over a longer horizon, providing more clarity about organizational pivots that may be necessary. 

What is the timeline? 

Preliminary work on this initiative started in late-2023 and the plan should be completed in late-2024. Implementation will begin in 2025 and will include connecting and calibrating the District’s strategy, shorter terms plans, and actions with the new vision to ensure consistency and propel the District forward.

Top trends affecting Chelan PUD 

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1. Increasing Demand for Electric Energy: Due to technology demands and population growth, the Northwest’s electricity demand is expected to increase 18.5% (average) and 14.7% (peak) between 2024-33. 
2. Increasing Electricity Load: By 2032, Chelan PUD’s load is expected to increase by a factor of 2.5, driven by advances in transportation, HVAC and  AI. By 2050, electricity may account for up to 75% of US energy consumption, up from the current 37.7%
3. Increasing Energy Storage Demand & Options: Not all renewable energy sources generate power equally and consistently. Long duration energy storage is crucial for managing this variability by storing surplus energy for use during peak electricity demand. 
4. Elevated Cybersecurity Risk: Cybersecurity threats will become increasingly sophisticated. New technology like quantum computing, AI, and distributed energy renewables present new cybersecurity riskschallenges to protect sensitive information and electric power grid reliability. 
5. Increasing Wildfire Frequency & Severity: Chelan County is among the top counties with the highest wildfire risk in Washington state. From 1984 to 2015, large fires in the western US doubled. Very large fires could surge by 200-500% due to rising temperatures and emissions. 
6. Increasing Extreme Weather Events & Impacts: Heat waves will intensify, with Chelan County expecting days over 90 degrees to increase from 2 to 9 by mid-century. This trend poses risks such as higher fire dangers, reduced power hydroelectric supplies, higher water temps and erosion vulnerability. 
7. Growing Use of AI: AI adoption is expected to reshape the energy sector by changing the way work is conducted. By 2030, AI could automate roughly one-third of current working hours, impacting various support and service jobs.
8. Increasing Recognition for Diversified Renewable Generation Portfolio: A diversified renewable energy portfolio is required to meet state and national sustainability goals for 2030 and 2040. 
9. Increasing Demand for Municipal Water: In Chelan County’s river basins, municipal water use is expected to rise 18% by 2040, with half of this increase occurring during the hottest months. 
10. Decreasing Snowpack in Columbia & Chelan Basins: Statewide average spring snowpack is expected to decrease 28-45% by mid-century and 56%-70% by the 2080s. For Chelan PUD, the mountain snowpack is crucial, serving as winter water storage for hydropower. 
11. Changing Long-Term Marking Strategy & Surplus Energy Sales: Chelan PUD projects an average annual local load growth of 9.15% over the next decade, which could reduce power available for wholesale energy markets. 
12. Increasing State Authority for Public Power: State laws are increasingly restricting utility operations, raising concerns about state overreach in locally controlled PUDs. Trends could erode local decision-making and disadvantage certain customer segments.