PUD Commissioners continue support for public power benefit projects

Allocation includes funds for fiber network expansion, day-use park passes and hydro research

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WENATCHEE, WA – Chelan PUD commissioners Monday affirmed support for Power Benefit project funding for the rest of 2017 and for 2018. Board members allocated $4 million for 2018 that includes $2.5 million for fiber network expansion and continuing the day use parking pass for PUD parks managed by the state.

Board members also continued support for funding three hydro research projects to improve operations, better predict unit conditions and outages and identify research opportunities. They allocated $250,000 from remaining 2017 funds and $250,000 from 2018 funds.

In earlier discussions, commissioner heard that in addition to the value for the PUD and customer-owners, the hydro research projects are attracting interest from other hydro operators. City of Wenatchee and Port of Chelan County officials also support the projects for potential benefits to the local economy if the work attracts new firms to the area.

The project began with an initial allocation of $250,000 in 2016. Earlier this year, Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director, said focusing on two areas – improving data analysis and developing sensor technology – is expected to put the District in a much better position to identify research opportunities and assess the feasibility of a hydro research institute locating in Chelan County.

Commissioner Garry Arseneault, said the research projects are an exciting use of technology that reflect the PUD’s vision to be an innovative utility.

Also allocated is $1 million from remaining 2017 funds to renovate Rocky Reach Visitor Center’s fish viewing area. Plans include new windows that are double the size of the originals and a new exhibit on the “anatomy” of a river from bank to streambed, plus building work to improve safety. Visitor Services Manager Debbie Gallaher said the work will be the first major improvements for the center since it opened in 1963.