Chelan PUD Commissioners approved a 2018 budget that includes no electric rate increase for a sixth consecutive year. Chelan PUD reports electric rates have increased 9 percent since 2000, while the consumer price index has risen by 39 percent during the same period. General Manager Steve Wright cautioned the District will have to evaluate how long it can maintain that rate environment without creating a risk of large rate increases in the future.
The 2018 capital budget will be the largest in at least 15 years but includes the strategic priorities of investing in key assets including major work at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams, continuing to pay down debt and funding existing Public Power Benefit projects.
Wright said the District is trying to roughly double the amount of major refurbishment at its hydro projects than in a normal five-year period. One significant capital project in 2018 is work that will add up to 50 years of life to the bridge cranes in the Rocky Reach Powerhouse.
The PUD also voted to move forward with the advanced, two-way meters for future customers.
The final budget is expected to end 2018 with a positive bottom line of nearly $72 million with expenditures of $366 million. The budget includes paying down another $24 million in debt.