Commissioners support approach to make sure there is reliable, readily available power

WENATCHEE – Energy use in the Lake Chelan area has grown 3 to 5 times higher than in other areas of the county since 2015, staff reported to Chelan PUD commissioners Monday.


This is accelerating planning to meet the area-wide electric needs for new homes, businesses and industry, including an invitation to community members to help identify and weigh options. (At 00:37 on the board meeting audio recording.)


“We’re definitely applying lessons learned when planning for new infrastructure,” said John Stoll, Customer Service managing director. “We heard from our customers they want to be kept informed – early and often.”


Customer Service Director Andy Wendell said forecasts show the need to build a new substation near Lake Chelan Dam, south of Chelan’s city limits, by 2024 to maintain reliable service and have power available for new and existing customers. New transmission lines are needed, too.


“We want to try to help our customers understand the drivers that are leading to this growth,” Wendell said.

The “geography” of future load is key to developing and evaluating options for a new substation, he said, as are community and PUD values. “Hardening” the power system against wildfire risk is another aspect. 


Wendell reviewed current load on the area’s existing five substations; three of which are now above 80-percent capacity. Forecasts for meeting future load assume the new North Shore substation is built and online by 2021.


Commissioners agreed that now is the time to reach out to the community. They reviewed an initial list of 15-plus stakeholders and encouraged others in the Chelan Valley who are interested to contact Customer Service staff at (509) 661-4562, or  


Wendell said staff is fine-tuning options now to be ready for community conversations in early spring. He plans to provide an update on stakeholder feedback to commissioners by early summer.


In other business, commissioners:

  • Reviewed proposed updates to the rate schedule in contracts for customers using more than 5 average megawatts, or as warranted by special circumstances (excluding cryptocurrency). Lindsey Mohns, Customer Service business manager, said there are no customers using Schedule 4, but several are interested. One application is pending and a contract drafted. Board members set a hearing on the rate changes for 1 p.m. on Feb. 4, during the regular board meeting. The last schedule update was in 2003. (00:19)
  • Thanked Lindsey Mohns for taking personal ownership in guiding the process to bring a cryptocurrency rate to the board for action that covered the cost of serving those new customers while keeping the financial impact on existing customers neutral to positive. They noted her “calm and steady” manner at the many public meetings, just one example of “her ability to handle complex issues.” (00:14)
  • Set a special meeting for 12:30 p.m., Feb. 7, at the Wenatchee Center, 121 N. Wenatchee Ave. to attend the strategic planning kick-off. They also rescheduled May’s board meetings due to commissioner travel and the Memorial Day holiday. The first meeting of the month will move back to April 29, the second meeting is now May 13. (02:30)
  • Welcomed Neil Neroutsos, new corporate communications manager, who joined the PUD last week following Suzanne Hartman’s retirement. He is an experienced communicator and public power advocate, most recently at Snohomish PUD, where he was chief spokesman and public relations liaison for 19 years. (01:25)


Upcoming events:

·         Jan. 25 – PUD Night at the Wild, 7 p.m., Town Toyota Center

·         Feb. 4 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom

·         Feb. 7 – Special meeting, 12:30 p.m., Wenatchee Convention Center, 121 N. Wenatchee Ave.

·         Feb. 18 – Presidents Day holiday

·         Feb. 19 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom

·         Feb. 23 – Firewise event, 10 a.m., Pybus Market

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