Public Power Benefit Program

Public Power Benefits are projects selected by the Board of Commissioners. These projects contribute to improving the quality of life in our county. Public Power Benefit projects were developed as part of the 2015 Chelan PUD strategic plan, and will be developed as part of the 2020-2024 strategic plan. They are designed to provide the best value to the most people for the longest period of time.

Funded projects have included: expansion of the PUD fiber network to more homes throughout the county during the next ten years; creating a Day Use Parking Pass program that allows county residents to visit the three PUD Parks managed by the State of Washington – Daroga, Lincoln Rock and Wenatchee Confluence – and park for free – much like a Discover Pass; installation of electric vehicle charging stations at up to nine PUD facilities around the county; restoration of the Horan habitat area to a wetland; a feasibility study for a possible splash pad area in one of the PUD’s parks; and much more.

Although we aren’t currently accepting new applications, we always are interested in hearing about great new ideas. We welcome your thoughts. You can send project suggestions directly to

What is the Public Power Benefit program?

The Public Power Benefit program invests a portion of available revenues in ways that enhance quality of life in Chelan County. The program is designed to include customer-owners in the decision-making process.

What are the benefits?

Investments made under the Public Power Benefit program must fall within the PUD's authority as a public utility. Benefits might come in the form of services like expanded fiber availability, or an amenity like a water feature at a park. Benefits are optional, and are intended to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County. They are funded using a portion of electric revenues, as determined annually by Commissioners. This was a new program in 2015, and Commissioners initially focused on the five project areas listed on the Projects page.

Where do the funds come from?

In 2015, less than one-fifth of Chelan County power was used in Chelan County by retail customers. The rest was sold through contracts to other utilities, Alcoa, or on the wholesale power market. Here is an example from the 2014 adopted budget.

PPB News

Douglas Port appeals to Chelan PUD to operate Orondo River Park

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 05, 2018
PUD commissioners mull options for park’s future operation

Chelan PUD commissioners Monday heard a request from Port of Douglas County board members for the District to take over operation of Orondo River Park on the Columbia River in Douglas County. (00:30)

PUD staff has been working on options for future operation of the park since last fall when Port staff asked the District to take full ownership, along with operating and maintenance responsibility for the small park just north of the community of Orondo. It’s since been determined that challenges with obligations related to state grant funding for park facilities would make it difficult for the PUD to take ownership.

The Port owns more than 3 acres of the 5-acre park and built it using state recreation funds in 1972.  A 1.4-acre PUD parcel was added in the late 1970s and the day use is cited in the Rocky Reach Dam recreation plan. Chelan PUD leases its portion of the park to the Port under a 1979 lease and operating agreement.

Michelle Smith, Hydro Licensing Compliance director, reviewed legal obligations related to the PUD’s agreement with the Port, the state funding used by the Port to build the park and the recreation responsibility in the federal license to operate Rocky Reach.

The park is open for day use only this season following an assessment that found various safety, code and access deficiencies. Chelan PUD and the Port are sharing 2018 operation and maintenance (O&M) costs of about $50,000.

The Port and PUD are asking the community for comments by June 20 on the changes in park operation.

PUD staff outlined long-term operating options that include:

  • Asking the Port to develop a management program for the park to address capital needs, its state funding obligations and alternative funding sources and for the PUD and Port to share O&M costs for another year with no change in license terms - ­ the least-cost alternative
  • Removing the day use recreation from the Rocky Reach license
  • Subsidizing the Port to continue as park operator at costs to be negotiated, consistent with support given to other park operators, sharing in estimated annual O&M of $50,000-$75,000, with needed capital improvements of $1.5 million-$2.5 million
  • PUD operation of the park – the highest-cost alternative - with the PUD paying all O&M and capital costs and adding staff to take care of it.

All options assume there will be no camping, less grass and the PUD property will become a natural area.

Port Executive Director Lisa Parks said having the PUD take over operation is still the Port’s preference. The PUD subsidizing operations is a second choice. The Port is strongly opposed to removing the day use responsibility from the federal license to operate Rocky Reach, Parks said.

Jim Huffman, Douglas Port commissioner and former PUD employee, said budget pressures, especially for increased costs to operate Pangborn Memorial Airport brought on the effort to seek help with operating the park. 

Chelan PUD Board President Dennis Bolz noted the cooperative relationship with the Port over the years adding, “I hope it continues in a cooperative vein and we believe it will.”

Discussions will continue as PUD commissioners later asked staff for more information on several issues.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard an update on design and property acquisition for three substations planned for construction to start by 2021. They also reviewed the priority list for adding 10 more substations in the future to meet forecasted growth. John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said substation planning is a top priority. To meet future needs, staff is looking for available property in industrial and commercial areas, working with county and city planners, considering alternative contracting mechanisms, identifying transmission line options and ordering some long-lead time equipment such as transformers this year. Chad Rissman, Distribution asset manager, recapped the schedules for the new Ohme Substation in north Wenatchee (construction in 2019), the Bavarian Substation near Leavenworth (estimated construction in 2020) and the North Shore Lake Chelan Substation (estimated construction in 2021). A second substation in downtown Wenatchee, near the existing substation, and one on PUD property in Wenatchee’s Castlerock area top the future priority list, Rissman said. (02:05)
  • Reviewed the District’s proposed insurance coverage and premiums for renewal on July 1. Ron Gibbs, Insurance and Claims manager, said quotes on premiums are consistent with budget. Insurance companies have a favorable view of Chelan PUD, in large part due to its asset management strategies. Gibbs said. He estimates premium costs will be up 6.8 percent. Negotiations will continue until July 1. Gibbs noted the global insurance market is responding to losses last year from extreme natural disasters including hurricanes. Board members will be asked to approve an “up to” amount for 2018-2019 insurance coverage at the June 25 meeting. (01:41)
  • Directed staff to plan for a $4 million allocation in Public Power Benefit project funding for 2019. The funds use revenue in excess of PUD operating and capital needs to enhance the quality of life for customer-owners in Chelan County. Projects include building out the broadband network, day use passes for PUD parks operated by the state and improvements at Rocky Reach Discovery Center. Staff will request board action on a resolution at the June 25 meeting. (01:35)
  • Reviewed staff recommendations for updating the PUD’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The 2018 IRP Progress Report outlines the sources of power needed to supply PUD customers through 2028. It describes the mix of resources from generation, conservation and efficiency that will meet current and projected needs at the lowest reasonable cost and risk to the utility and its customer-owners. Staff will request board approval of the progress report at the June 25 meeting. (01:15)
  • Heard that the May monthly average Columbia River flow past Rocky Reach Dam of 275,000 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) was the highest since the dam was built in 1962. Previous high monthly averages for May were 259,000 cfs in 1971 and 249,000 cfs in 1997, reported John Wasniewski, energy analyst. High water has receded and boat launches and trails in PUD parks have re-opened. Park users and boaters are urged to be careful. The level of Lake Chelan was more than 2 feet above the June 1 target of 1,094 feet above sea level. Generation continues at capacity, along with spill into the Chelan Gorge, to manage lake level for an estimated 14.5 feet of remaining runoff from snowmelt, Wasniewski said. (02:40)


Upcoming events:

  • June 5 – Tri-Commission meeting, 1 p.m., Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee
  • June 21 – PUD Night at the AppleSox, 6:35 p.m., Paul Thomas Field
  • June 25 – Board meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom (rescheduled)
  • July 4 – Independence Day holiday
  • July 9 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom (rescheduled)


Chelan PUD commissioners will meet with Port of Chelan County and Chelan County commissioners at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee.  

The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 25, 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 on and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD. 

Revenue Generation (2014 Adopted Budget)

As revenues flow in, they are first used to reinvest in core assets, pay down debt, and maintain cash reserves. After that, Commissioners may choose to set aside some money for Public Power Benefits.

How did the program come about?

In January of 2014, PUD Commissioners launched a community conversation called Our Public Power, the Next Generation. More than a thousand customer-owners shared ideas for investing in the future. This public input informed priorities for strategic planning and became the basis for the Public Power Benefit program. As part of the PUD’s 2020-2024 strategic plan the utility is updating program criteria and the project selection process that will occur in 2020.