Commission Meeting News

Chelan PUD board dives deeper into proposed five-year rate plan

by Kimberlee Craig | Jan 20, 2020
Details related to Chelan PUD’s implementation of rate changes included in the 2020-2024 strategic plan, were discussed by Chelan PUD board members Monday.

The proposal reflects customer-owner preference heard during strategic planning for smaller, predictable electric rate changes to reduce the risk of larger increases in the future.  The strategic plan recommended putting any increased revenue into reserves to help reduce this risk.

PUD staff is proposing a $1.75 a month increase be applied to the residential customer charge. The residential customer charge is a fixed amount on the monthly bill that recovers the costs of being connected to the grid, no matter the amount of power used. This reflects about a 3-percent annual increase in overall residential bills.

“When we consider adjusting between rate components like the customer charge and energy use, we need to better align cost recovery by rate component,” said Lindsey Mohns, Customer Utilities business manager, at Monday’s board meeting. (At 02:07 on the board meeting recording.)

Mohns presented data showing that the residential customer charge is substantially below the actual cost and the disparity is growing. Chelan PUD’s customer charge is very low compared with other Washington state PUDs, Mohns said. This presents a revenue under-recovery issue, particularly for second or seasonal homes.

Customer Malachi Salcido of Wenatchee spoke, supporting the board’s long-term look at rates. “Thank you for this planning to avoid large, un-forecasted rate increases,” Salcido said. “It’s very much appreciated.” 

Under the proposal the average home electric bill would go from about $55 a month now to $56.75 in year one of the plan; $58.50 in year two; $60.25 in year three; $62 in year four; and 63.75 in the last year of the five-year rate plan.

Even with these changes, Chelan PUD rates will remain among the lowest in the country.

Discounts for low income senior and disabled customers also would increase by 3 percent. PUD staff are reviewing low-income energy efficiency and assistance programs and will report to commissioners before spring.

Other rate changes proposed in the 2020-2024 strategic plan are:

  • 3-percent, per-year electric rate change for all non-residential customers 
  • 4-percent water and wastewater change per year to move the systems toward sustainability
  • 3-percent per year wholesale Fiber rate change

Customer-owners are invited to a hearing on the proposal at 1 p.m. during the Feb. 3 board meeting. There is more information at Comments and questions also can be sent to

Chelan PUD hasn’t changed electric rates in nine years.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard about the pace of building new homes and businesses this year and that the 10-year forecast is for electric load growth of 1.2 percent a year, about 26 average megawatts over the next decade, said Andy Wendell, Customer Service director. Work continues building or expanding six substations, Wendell added. (01:27)
  • Reviewed the timeline and outreach to solicit projects to be considered for “early action” in Rock Island Dam relicensing. During strategic planning, more than 80 percent of customer-owners agreed the PUD should make environmental and recreational investments along the Rock Island project boundary before formal relicensing in 2028 to support a longer, up to 50-year, license. Projects must meet PUD and federal licensing criteria. During strategic planning, customers said their top criteria were investments that support economic development, environmental stewardship and recreation opportunities and public access. Outreach will start this month with letters to stakeholders, followed by meetings. Letters of “interest” are due in March. Following review, PUD staff plans to come back to the board with recommendations to allocate study funds. Subject to board review, a limited number of projects, which meet criteria, would be sent to federal regulators in mid-2021 for a decision in late 2021. (02:40
  • Were updated on efforts to manage peak demand on the small system serving the remote community of Stehekin at the head of Lake Chelan. Study shows that installing battery storage may be the most cost-effective measure to provide capacity and create additional energy from excess hydro generation, reported Manager Andrew Grassell and Jim White, senior engineer, of the PUD’s energy efficiency group. Plans are to request battery storage proposals in March and to schedule updates with the community soon. Two community members provided public comment. (00:39)
  • Were happy to hear of significant increases in water supply forecasts for the Lake Chelan Basin and Columbia River system following recent snowfall.  April-July runoff into Lake Chelan is now forecast at 90 percent of average and Columbia River runoff for January-July is forecast at 103 percent of average. (02:56)
  • Thanked Ryan Roy, Energy Planning and Trading, for his high level of ownership in successfully managing creation of a new system for river planning, energy dispatch and energy accounting. More than 20,000 hours of work by employees across the District was done on time, on budget and with no compliance problems as a result of Roy’s project leadership. (00:05)

Upcoming events:

  • Feb. 3 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m.
  • Feb 17 – PUD offices closed for Presidents Day holiday
  • Feb. 18 - Commission meeting on Tuesday (due to the holiday), 10 a.m.
  • March 2 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m.

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