Conversations with customers move strategic plan toward finish line

by Kimberlee Craig | Sep 16, 2019

Image of customers at Open HouseThoughtful written comments and interactions with customer-owners at recent open houses have offered useful insights as Chelan PUD moves closer to adopting its strategy for the next five years.

Justin Erickson, District Services managing director, summarized the response to the draft plan for commissioners on Monday.  He highlighted the next steps in the planning process. (At 0:12 on the board meeting audio recording.)

Of the recent comments received, customers were most interested in the PUD’s wholesale fiber service and planned expansion. 

“We wanted to have another opportunity to engage with our customer-owners and make sure they’re getting the information they need and understand the direction set forth in the plan,” Erickson said. “We’re grateful for the community’s participation and support over the course of the last 10 months as we’ve developed the plan.”       

Customer Malachi Salcido, Wenatchee, thanked commissioners and staff for reaching out to involve customers and the community.

“I am impressed with how patiently and expertly you explain complex issues,” Salcido said. “I am impressed on how well you are managing a lot of uncertainty.

“Thanks for including us in this process. ...Keep up the good work”

Commissioners expressed gratitude for the several thousand customers who responded to surveys, served on topic teams, came to open houses and sent comments on the draft plan.

“It’s gratifying to hear that this process is valuable for the community,” said Commissioner Dennis Bolz.

Board President Garry Arseneault pointed to the vision to provide the best value for the most people for the longest time that guided development of the plan. “It gives us strength to go forward knowing that the path is recognized by the people we serve.”  

Four priorities lead the PUD’s proposed roadmap:

  • Invest in assets and people and seek industry top-quartile performance for hydro generation, retail reliability and safety while improving customer service technology
  • Sustain excellent financial resiliency while mitigating the risk of large rate increases
  • Enhance the quality of life in Chelan County through programs that distribute the benefits of public power
  • Engage in countywide growth planning and job creation while ensuring the District’s rates and policies are stable and predictable

As proposed, the PUD will review rate designs for its electric system, water/wastewater and wholesale fiber services in 2020. Special meetings also are being planned in October to share information with customers about fiber system expansion, which is funded in part through the Public Power Benefit program.

Customers can still comment on the final draft by emailing and at the Oct. 7 board meeting. See details at

The Board of Commissioners will consider adoption of the Strategic Plan on Oct. 7

In other business, commissioners

  • Added Chelan PUD’s support to preserve the benefits of hydropower by joining 16 other public utilities in opposing removal of the lower Snake River dams. Commissioner Randy Smith proposed the resolution, passed unanimously by the board. “The role of a commissioner is to help educate our customers. My hope, and why I asked for this resolution, is to use it as an educational component … for a conversation on how we view and value hydropower in the Pacific Northwest. …Removal of those dams could have impacts on us we have yet to understand.” (00:34)
  • Heard the great news that federal regulators certified the successful completion of a 10-year effort to entice Chinook salmon and steelhead to return in healthy numbers to the lower Chelan River. Marcie Clement, water resources program manager, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepted the report required by the license to operate the Lake Chelan Hydro Project. Chelan PUD worked with agencies and tribes to return year-round flow to the Chelan River and create new fish habitat. FERC also accepted the finding that all reasonable efforts were taken, but a cutthroat trout fishery is not viable. (01:00
  • Heard plans to talk with the community about water levels and safety this fall on Lake Chelan and the Columbia River. Communications Manager Neil Neroutsos outlined steps to update the PUD’s website and plans for a mobile phone app to make it even easier for boaters and fishers to check conditions on the go. Janet Jaspers, Energy Planning and Trading manager, reported on river operations tests planned Sept. 25 at Rock Island Dam and Oct. 2 at Rocky Reach that will lower river levels 3-4 feet for a few hours.
  • Set a special meeting for 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 at Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Way in Wenatchee, to attend the STEM Alliance meeting.  

Upcoming events:

  • Sept. 21 – River Ramble at the Wenatchee Valley Salmon Festival
  • Sept. 30 – Commission workshop, 9 a.m., CTC
  • Oct. 2 – Special Commission Meeting – STEM Alliance Meeting, 9 a.m.
  • Oct. 6-13 – Public Power Week
  • Oct. 7 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • Oct. 13 – Fall Harvest Roundup  - 1-4 p.m. Rocky Reach Park
  • Oct. 21 – Commission Meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • Nov. 1 – Night at the Museum: Saying Goodbye, 5:30 p.m., Discovery Center 

* * *

The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 7, 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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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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