Chelan County PUD commissioners looked to the future Monday as they reviewed the blueprints staff laid out for the next five years to make sure utility services are valuable, enhance Chelan County’s quality of life and provide the best value, for the most people for the longest period of time.
“This is a moment we’ve been preparing for the last six months,” said General Manager Steve Wright as he introduced the five-year business plans. “Very important is that we have achieved our debt ratio target – a year earlier than forecast. We are now rated among the Top 5 public utilities for financial strength.” (at about 00:25 on the board audio recording)
Strong financial health allows the PUD to increase focus on improving the state of aging hydro and distribution assets.
“The good news is we believe we can invest in our assets and achieve our key financial targets (over the next five years). Our bottom line forecast is actually better than last year,” he said.
The plans include no changes to electric rates in 2019, but that is unlikely to continue forever, Wright added. Power rates haven’t changed since 2012.
Senior managers base the five-year plans on the District’s mission, vision and values. The plans also serve as building blocks for annual budgets. Commissioners will review the draft 2019 spending plan at their first meeting in November.
In addition to meeting financial targets, Chelan PUD will focus on these areas for 2019-2023, Wright said:
- Improve hydro capability to 89 percent, even with space and equipment challenges
- Improve reliable power delivery to customers
- Improve safety and operational excellence, quality and pace
With new billing and metering systems, to operating a world-class fiber network, to upgrades at the dams and for the power grid, PUD senior managers outlined how business units will make a difference for customers and the community in the next five years. (01:05)
The business plans also lead in to the next strategic planning process for 2020-2024
In other business, commissioners:
- Met Justin Erickson, new District Services managing director. Erickson is a Tacoma-area native and Central Washington University alumnus for both undergraduate and his master’s degree in Resource Management. He and his family wanted to return to the Northwest after more than a decade in Shawnee, Okla. Erickson was community development director and then city manager there. GM Steve Wright said there are many similarities in the city manager role with the position left open when Jeff Smith retired in June. Erickson’s direct reports at the city included Parks, Police (and Fire), Contracting, Planning, Utilities, External Affairs and Engineering, all responsibilities of his new job. “This is an entity with an indelible legacy, and I am excited to be part of this premier organization,” Erickson said. “I look forward to continuing this enduring tradition of stewardship established more than 80 years ago.” (0:05)
- Were invited to Public Power Week festivities culminating with a Hydropower Celebration at Pybus Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Customers can show off their hydro savvy and enter to win a pair Seahawks tickets. A customer THANK YOU! is planned with treats at the Leavenworth office on Wednesday and in Chelan and Wenatchee on Friday. Chelan County and the cities of Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat, Leavenworth and Wenatchee, plus Gov. Jay Inslee, joined in proclaiming Public Power Week, Oct. 6-13. (02:15)
- Reviewed the 62-year success of the District’s apprenticeship program started in 1956. (00:08)
- Approved purchase of 1.63 acres for a new substation in Entiat. Planning with the city and community located the site along Highway 97A at the north end of town. The purchase price negotiated with owner R&S Rentals is $129,900. (02:05)
- Approved issuing a Request for Qualifications from firms interested in rehabilitating generating units in Powerhouse 2 at Rock Island Dam. (02:08)
- Approved new rates for wholesale telecommunications services on the PUD’s fiber network. (02:10)
- Approved a lease agreement with the Port of Chelan for Building #5 in Olds Station to potentially relocate PUD staff such as Fiber/Telecom; Meter Shop; Engineering & Project Management Facilities Team; and Lands Crew in anticipation of PUD facilities moving to Olds Station. (02:07)
- Heard about helicopter surveys of power lines in the Lake Wenatchee area planned for early October. (02:17)
- Oct. 3 & 5 – Public Power Week customer-owner Thank YOU! Treats 1-2 p.m. Wednesday in the Leavenworth office; 11 -2 p.m., Friday in the lobbies at the Chelan and Wenatchee offices.
- Oct. 6 – Hydropower Celebration, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Pybus Public Market, Wenatchee
- Oct. 15 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
- Nov. 5 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom
- Nov. 7 – Cryptocurrency rate information meeting, CTC
- Nov. 14 – Careers After School, Line Operations, PUD HQ
- Nov. 19 – Cryptocurrency rate & moratorium hearing, 1 p.m., PUD board room
- Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving holiday, offices closed
- Dec. 3 – Cryptocurrency rate resolution
The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 15, 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 on Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.