Chelan County families have new, low-cost option for high-speed internet access

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 01, 2020

Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday heard the news that the PUD is partnering with LocalTel to roll out a low-cost internet access package starting at $29.95/month with no installation fees. The package is aimed at reducing the “digital divide” faced by many families as internet access is increasingly vital for students and for people working at home.

Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom managing director, outlined the new offering and thanked LocalTel, for recognizing a community need and responding.

The Wenatchee firm is one of nine companies offering retail services including internet, TV and telecommunications over the PUD’s high-speed broadband network. (At 01:36 on the board meeting audio recording.)

“This is really great news,” Coleman said. Adding later, “We’ve heard from school districts and our customer-owners that internet access has become as vital a service as electricity.

“A low-cost service option really answers a need in our community.”

Chelan PUD board members earlier had set wholesale fiber rates to encourage retail service providers to create more affordable options.

“We look forward to rolling out this new service that will help PUD customers who could benefit from the combined efforts of the PUD and LocalTel to provide a lower-cost option,” said company President/CEO Dimitri Mandelis in a statement sent to PUD commissioners  

The new option offers 30/5 Mbps service for up to 200 gigabytes of data a month. Additional data can be added for 20 cents a gigabyte, “which is a very good value when compared with cellular company data pricing,” Coleman said.

The cost of the LocalTel package could be even less per month for those who are eligible for “Lifeline” discount. That can reduce the cost by another $9.25 he said.

A second provider, Native Networks, also is developing a low-cost offering, Coleman said.

“I’m really excited to hear this news,” said Commissioner Steve McKenna. “It is an opportunity for low-income families to have internet access and bridge that access inequality that so many face. I appreciate all your work on this.”

People interested in this low-cost internet access package are encouraged to contact LocalTel for details and to place an order.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Reviewed steps being taken to meet the challenges posed by a forecasted move toward electrifying transportation. Chelan PUD’s low-cost, carbon-free hydropower is expected to fuel an increasing share of the county’s vehicles in the years to come. Commissioners encouraged staff to develop a “roadmap” to stay ahead of customer need while taking a balanced approach that will be wrapped into future business plans. (00:21)
  • Reviewed Public Power Benefit (PPB) funding for 2020 and started discussions on projects for 2021. Board members supported using about $1.5 million for Dryden sewer treatment plant upgrades from the $3.5 million of remaining 2020 funds. A decision on other 2020 projects will come this summer, along with discussing 2021 projects. Possibilities for the $6 million allocated for next year include more water and wastewater work; speeding up PPB fiber expansion and new river access from PUD trails. Community suggestions for discussion will be taken online starting in September. (00:09)
  • Were updated on plans for the Coyote Dunes area next to the loop trail south of Odabashian Bridge in Douglas County. A closer look revealed rare plants there that would make it difficult and costly to build amenities as originally planned. More work to evaluate and develop future recreation and conservation amenities to preserve the natural area is planned through 2021. (01:08)

Upcoming events:

  • June 15 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • July 3 – Offices closed for July 4 holiday
  • July 6 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom

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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 15, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.


Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at Find us at and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.


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