Commission Meeting News

Hydropower modernization takes center stage in 2024 draft budget

by Rachel Hansen | Nov 20, 2023

Chelan PUD commissioners reviewed a preliminary budget for 2024 that’s focused on modernizing the utility’s two largest hydropower projects – Rock Island and Rocky Reach.

The draft budget forecasts a positive bottom line of about $125 million, about 22% higher than the adopted budget last year. That figure reflects the increasing value of hydropower in the energy market, where Chelan PUD sells about 80% of the energy it generates.

The preliminary 2024 budget includes about $218 million on key capital projects, such as:

  • Rock Island Dam modernization, including multiple generating units at Powerhouse I and Powerhouse II
  • Rocky Reach gantry crane replacement and trash rack refurbishment
  • The last phase of construction at the new Service Center at Olds Station
  • Construction of distribution substations in Leavenworth and Chelan for improved reliability

The budget also includes $10 million for Public Power Benefit projects, including the continuation of fiber expansion, parks improvements and preparing the Fifth Street campus for redevelopment in accordance with the community’s vision for the site.

Overall, the PUD’s financial outlook remains strong, with debt well below the utility’s financial policy metrics.

The annual budget priorities are part of a five-year business plan, which commissioners reviewed Oct. 16. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed 2024 budget at the Dec. 4 meeting.

In other news, commissioners:

  • Reviewed a proposal to purchase property for a future water reservoir to serve the Olds Station area.
  • Celebrated the results of a salmon survival study that was performed at the Rocky Reach hydroelectric project. The study demonstrated a combined adult and juvenile survival rate of 93.54%, which is better than the 91% standard required in the Rocky Reach Habitat Conservation Plan.

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