Commissioners prepare to launch strategic planning conversations

WENATCHEE  – Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday reviewed key topics that customer-owners and the community will be asked to weigh in on during strategic planning for 2020-2024.

Commissioners and PUD staff are launching the next round of strategic planning this winter and reaching out to customer-owners, community leaders and other interested parties through public meetings, surveys and various online resources.

Input from customers to develop the plan is vital, said board President Garry Arseneault following the meeting.

“Our customers are the heart of public power, and we need their thoughts and ideas to make sure we continue to provide the best quality of life for the most people in Chelan County for the longest time,” Arseneault said. “Strategic planning is dynamic and requires vigorous and healthy discussions.”

Senior managers and commissioners are seeking feedback to set direction on the following topics:

  • Aesthetic considerations
  • Rock Island Dam relicensing
  • Public Power Benefit program
  • Long-term rate planning
  • Growth and economic development
  • Wholesale/retail sales

Board members remain committed to strategic priorities to invest in assets and people that provide long-term value for the people of Chelan County.

They invited the community to join the conversation on and at public meetings, by answering surveys and responding to mailed information.

“As a community-owned utility, we value our customers’ input to guide us,” said General Manager Steve Wright. “Keeping our customers informed and engaged is among our top priorities. We really do want to hear from them.”

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard that energy efficiency programs exceeded conservation goals by nearly 10 percent last year. They are expected to return an estimated value over the life of the measures of nearly $6 million. One program, helping cities install energy-saving LED streetlights, is about 70 complete with work finishing in Cashmere and Wenatchee, said Andrew Grassell, energy development and conservation manager. Even with declining market prices net wholesale revenue and other energy-related revenue was $134.2 million in 2018, $17.8 million above budget. “Specified source” sales for the PUD’s carbon-free hydropower was $4.9 million of the total, $1.2 million more than budget. Janet Jaspers, energy planning and trading manager, said the results show how the District’s hedging program provides value for customers.
  • Received updates on snowpack and water supply forecasts for the Columbia River and Lake Chelan. January-July Columbia River streamflow is forecast at 87 percent of average. Estimates for runoff into Lake Chelan , from the Feb. 1 snowpack survey, is 80 percent for the coming spring and summer.
  • Reviewed the PUD’s 2018 performance. General Manager Steve Wright noted that development of cryptocurrency rates and responding to emerging issues delayed some planned work. Staff accomplished 73 percent of the 280 actions in the plan. 
  • Held a hearing to gather comment on proposed updates to the rate schedule in contracts for customers using more than 5 average megawatts, or as warranted by special circumstances (excluding cryptocurrency). No one spoke. Lindsey Mohns, Customer Utilities business manager, said plans are to ask for board approval of the changes at the Feb. 19 meeting.


Upcoming events:

·         Feb. 7 – Special board meeting/Strategic Planning kick-off, noon, Wenatchee Convention Center, 121 N. Wenatchee Ave.

·         Feb. 18 – Presidents Day holiday

·         Feb. 19 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom (on Tuesday due to the holiday)

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

·         March 5 –Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom

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