PUD Board approves agreements to meet Diamond Foundry power needs

by Neil Neroutsos | May 13, 2019

Chelan County PUD commissioners today approved three agreements with Stemilt Growers to accommodate power needs for the Diamond Foundry, a gemstone manufacturer setting up new operations. Stemilt is leasing space to the Diamond Foundry in the Hawley Street area of Wenatchee.

Under one agreement, a new substation will be constructed to provide up to 19 megawatts of power to the Diamond Foundry by a target date of March 2020. Stemilt has proposed that it build the substation – with design and engineering review by the PUD – in order to power the new manufacturer. Current substation capacity would not meet the increased energy demand.

Two other agreements set up leases to allow for the substation construction. The PUD will lease land to Stemilt on Hawley Street where the substation will be sited, and Stemilt will lease land to the PUD on Miller Street for storage of utility materials and equipment.

Chad Rissman, PUD Director of Asset Management, briefed commissioners on the extensive coordination needed with Stemilt to meet an expedited substation construction timeline. While typically 18 months is required to energize a new substation once transformers are ordered, this project is slated for completion in less than a year.

PUD staff stressed the value of the public-private partnership that will create economic development benefits for Chelan County. The new Diamond Foundry will create between 35-50 jobs in Wenatchee, with the intent to hire local talent.

In addition to the three agreements, PUD commissioners reviewed a large-load power contract with the Diamond Foundry. This contract is set for consideration and potential board approval on June 3. The pricing is based on the high-density load rate adopted in 2017.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Reviewed first quarter energy resources, including information about the new, five-year Microsoft energy contract and contracts for energy from Rocky Reach and Rock Island hydropower projects through 2024. In addition, staff noted that PUD energy efficiency programs have started the year strong.
  • Heard a presentation on a proposed land exchange with the City of Entiat, adjacent to the city’s riverfront park, for constructing a storage shed to house park equipment.
  • Heard a presentation about fire mitigation strategies the utility is using to minimize fire risks throughout its service territory
  • Received an update on the PUD’s strategic planning process. A draft plan is expected in late summer. In late May, customers will have opportunities to complete surveys online or by mail to provide input on a range of key issues to help shape the PUD’s direction for the next five years.

Upcoming events:

  • May 25 – Kids Fest, 10 a.m., Walla Walla Point Park
  • May 29 – Tri-Commission meeting, 1 p.m., Confluence Technology Center
  • June 3 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m.
  • June 13 – PUD Night at the Apple Sox


The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 3, 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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