Chelan PUD’s new two-way digital meters prevent outages before they start

by Rachel Hansen | Jun 18, 2024

Chelan PUD avoided several outages over the last few months since it finished upgrading more than 50,000 electric meters with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), staff reported to commissioners Monday. (Board audio begins around 00:45:00)

The two-way digital meters use encrypted, wireless communication to send energy use information directly to Chelan PUD. This data helps Chelan PUD avoid outages by identifying problems early, and respond to outages faster.

Before AMI, a maintenance project on a major transmission line would have caused a 10-hour power outage for about 1,000 customers served by the South Shore substation near Lake Chelan earlier this spring. The PUD was able to re-route power to customers through another substation and continuously monitor for safe voltage levels through the data received from AMI. 

Using AMI amperage and voltage data, wastewater crews identified step-tank failures in the Lake Wenatchee area in near real-time. The problem was repaired, saving customers from a septic overflow situation.

Before AMI, Chelan PUD often relied on customers to report power outages. With AMI’s power loss alerts, Chelan PUD dispatched serviceman and restored power before customers were aware the lights were out. This was especially helpful for second homeowners, which otherwise may not have detected an outage for weeks.

In the next phase of AMI integration, Chelan PUD plans to build an online customer portal, where customers have near real-time visibility of their electrical use. The utility also plans to integrate AMI into its outage management system for faster outage response, and its engineering data system to facilitate better system planning.

Those benefits will only be available to customers who have an AMI meter. Starting in June, the nearly 200 customers who have opted-out will be charged a $25 monthly fee to partially cover the cost of manual meter readings.

Staff recommended an incentive for customers to receive a one-time bill credit for any opt-out fees accrued from June through August 2024 if they choose to opt-in. Commissioners asked staff to consider a longer grace period and provide an update to the board later this year.

The $15 million installation of advanced meters began in 2023 and finished this spring. The change has been in the works since 2017.

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Media contacts

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

Outages or Emergencies

Visit our Safety and Outage Center for information, or to report an outage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-877-PUD-8123.


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