Chelan PUD five-year plan includes improving hydropower availability

Rock Island hydro

Earlier this week, commissioners with Chelan County Public Utility District in Washington State conducted their annual review of a five-year plan that maps out how the PUD will provide the best value for the most people for the longest time.

The five-year business plan includes large investments in dam modernization, expanded access to fiber internet and better customer service tools.

Below is a summary of the initiatives planned to support the PUD’s four strategic goals:

Invest in assets and people. The five-year plan calls for improving hydropower capability, from about 77% now to 89% in 2025, by investing in maintenance and improvements at the 1,236.6-MW Rocky Reach and 624-MW Rock Island facilities. (Chelan PUD also owns the Lake Chelan hydro project.) The PUD will also invest in new customer service technology to support real-time outage and energy usage information, including mobile-friendly options.

Maintain strong and resilient financials. The PUD plans to continue to meet its financial goals with flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. The debt leverage is expected to be well below the 35% target throughout the five-year plan, ending with less than 16% in 2026.

Enhance quality of life in Chelan County. The plan maintains a $6 million investment annually for public power benefit projects, including expansion of the utility’s fiber internet network to 5,800 more homes by 2024.

Support economic development. The PUD is planning to build more electrical distribution infrastructure in Chelan County, including additional substations, to accommodate residential and industrial growth and to improve reliability.

Chelan PUD says it is experiencing better-than-forecasted revenues in 2021 from an energy market that values renewable, carbon-free hydropower. That puts the PUD on a path to invest in capital projects without taking on new debt until 2023.

In addition, commissioners heard the results of a juvenile salmon survival study at Rock Island Dam. In spring 2021, yearling chinook passed the Rock Island project area with a 94.45% survival rate. The study is required every 10 years by the Habitat Conservation Plan for Rock Island.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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