PUD Approves Creation of Hydro Power Research Institute


WENATCHEE, WA – Chelan PUD commissioners Monday moved a step closer to creating a new, nonprofit research institute with the goal of helping dam operators around the world improve operations and supporting a hydropower technology hub in the Wenatchee Valley.

Commissioners unanimously authorized the approval of a “Bridging” Agreement” that sets in motion forming the organization and its governing board

Commissioners have approved $1.05 million in Public Power Benefit funding for hydropower research. Earlier this year they allocated an initial $500,000 of those PPB funds to launch the new Institute

The initial focus of the nonprofit institute will be to collect and compile operating data from hydroelectric generators and coordinate analysis and research on operations with the potential, to:

  • Reduce costs and increase revenues by reducing forced outages
  • Develop new sensors and monitors to improve predictive capabilities

Memberships, subscriptions and the ability to apply for grants would bring in added funding. Local agriculture, education and technology groups also support the institute

Chelan PUD is the founding HRI member. Signing up other dam owners and subscribers will follow the filing of articles of incorporation. A Board of Directors will oversee the institute. General Manager Steve Wright will appoint Chelan PUD’s representatives to that board.

Other steps under Monday’s board action include hiring a Certified Public Accountant and an attorney and setting up a bank account, said Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director. Inspiration for the institute came from the community during strategic planning.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest in the industry, and it is really exciting that Chelan County will be a place where hydro project owners, researchers, students, manufacturers and suppliers can come together to move the industry forward in the digital transformation” Hudson said.


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Steve Hair is a 40-year veteran broadcast journalist who comes to NCW LIFE TV after a long career in radio. Steve and his wife Lynette and their three sons moved to the Wenatchee Valley from Central California in 1992. Steve served as News Director for KPQ News where he covered a multitude of stories of importance to North Central Washington, including two of Washington State’s largest wildfires. During his radio career Steve has received many awards from organizations such as the Associated Press, (Sacramento and Seattle Bureaus) The Washington State Farm Bureau, and the California Medical Association. Steve is a sports addict. Time off usually finds him sprawled out on the couch watching the Seahawks, Mariners or anything that prevents him from doing house chores.