Commissioners support funding boost for community-minded projects

by Rachel Hansen | Sep 18, 2023

Chelan PUD commissioners expressed support Monday for a one-time increase of $4 million to the $6 million Public Power Benefit fund for 2024. (starts around 00:47:00 on the board audio recording) The board will formally vote on a resolution in October.

The increase would allow the PUD to pursue five community-minded projects and keep the program open for additional requests:

  • Expanded fiber network: Accelerates the expansion of the PUD’s broadband network in order to provide access to 85 percent of Chelan County customers by 2026.
  • Fiber expansion design: Funds the development of preliminary designs and cost estimates for the next phase of expanding the wholesale fiber network. The study will inform future decisions by the Fiber department and commissioners.
  • Stehekin reliability: Explores solutions to increase electrical capacity in the remote community of Stehekin as energy demands grow and change.
  • Manson parks connection: Connects the PUD-owned Manson Bay Park and the Old Swim Hole with an elevated boardwalk that would provide safe, continuous access and protect the riparian area.
  • Fifth Street redevelopment: Creates an internal road and sidewalk through the Fifth Street campus to connect the separate parcels in a way that’s consistent with the community vision for redevelopment.

Commissioners created the Public Power Benefit program in 2015 as part of Chelan PUD’s vision to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County. About $6 million a year is earmarked to support projects that fall within the PUD’s authority as a public utility. Funding is contingent on the utility meeting its financial obligations.

Every year, Chelan PUD invites customers and partner agencies to send their ideas on potential projects. In 2023, 12 applications were submitted. A team of two commissioners and several staff members evaluated the applications based on cost, timeline, project management and other criteria.

In other news, commissioners:

  • Reviewed a revised term sheet regarding the sale of property from the PUD’s Fifth Street campus to the YMCA. The YMCA requested to purchase an estimated 144,000 square feet, about 51% more property than the originally proposed in June. (00:00:32)
  • Held a public hearing regarding electrical vehicle charging, demand-response programs and ratemaking standards. (00:00:16)

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Rachel Hansen: (509) 661-4320
Libby Siebens: (509) 661-8291

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