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PUD board looks at next round of projects to enhance quality of life in Chelan County

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 03, 2019

Chelan County PUD commissioners on Monday considered options for additional Public Power Benefit projects for 2019, as well as recommended funding levels for 2020.

About $1.5 million is still available from 2019’s $4 million allocation. Projects the board tentatively approved include acquiring property to extend the loop trail to the new PUD Service Center in Olds Station, securing Art on the Avenues sculptures in PUD parks and acquiring a three-year package of day-use parking passes from the state for future use at Confluence, Daroga and Lincoln Rock parks. (At 00:41 on the meeting audio recording.)

$2.3 million is already in the budget for Public Power Benefit (PPB) fiber network expansion in 2019.

Over five years, Public Power Benefit projects have brought 75 percent of the county access to super-fast PUD fiber, offered free parking at the three PUD parks operated by the state and launched an innovative institute that’s already filed a patent on technology to improve hydro generation.

Those are big accomplishments, PUD commissioners said during the review of program results. PPB launched in 2014.

The program’s future is one topic of strategic planning for 2020-2024. PUD customers can share their feedback on PPB and other topics by completing a survey before June 21. They can visit www.ourpublicpower.org to learn more.

PUD customers inspired the PPB program during the last round of strategic planning by asking what more – along with low electric rates, reliable power and waterfront parks – their public utility could do for the community. Commissioners decided that after all PUD bills are paid each year, some of the remaining funds could be used for projects that enhance the quality of life in Chelan County. (Projects must be within PUD legal authority & meet other criteria.)   

PUD staff proposed $4 million for PPB projects in 2020. Commissioners already earmarked $2.5 million for fiber expansion. Decisions on other projects will come later this year, after results are in from strategic planning.

Other multi-year projects include renovations at Rocky Reach Discovery Center; jobs and work-readiness initiatives; and Horan Natural Area rehabilitation. The PUD also installed five electric vehicle chargers.

Felicity Saberhagen, District Services business manager, said staff would be back this summer with more information, including results from strategic planning surveys and better developed cost estimates for the possible new 2019 projects.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Approved authority for the general manager to sign agreements with the Diamond Foundry for electric service under Schedule 4 (large load). The gemstone manufacturer will bring 35-50 jobs to the community as it ramps up Wenatchee operations in 2020. (02:00)
  • Heard that more than 1,100 community members have sent in responses to the strategic planning surveys so far. Justin Erickson, District Services managing director, said outreach continues through June 21 to encourage survey responses. The PUD mailed surveys and background information to all customers last month. The survey also is online at www.ourpublicpower.org. (01:27)
  • Congratulated employees Laura Stirling, Rocky Reach Discovery Center, and Karl Specht, mechanical engineer, for their photos of Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams that each placed third for “overall hydropower” in this year’s U.S. Department of Energy’s “Make a Splash” photo contest. 
  • Thanked journeyman wireman Evin Busey for his ownership of District values and putting them into action each day on the job. Busey joined the PUD as an apprentice seven years ago. 

Upcoming events:

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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 17, 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 www.chelanpud.org. Find us at Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.

 

Here for you, providing the best for the most for the longest – chelanpud.org

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