Good News For Ratepayers in 2019 Chelan PUD Budget Talks

Chelan County PUD commissioners met Monday to discuss, among other things, their budget for 2019.

While the budget outline has yet to even make it to the draft stage, for commissioners the study session did act as a sort of bridge between previously discussed five-year business plans and what will be the 2019 Chelan County PUD budget.

The PUD will follow their ongoing 2015 Strategic Plan, resulting in the beginning or continuation of several projects. Repairs on the large units at Rocky Reach Dam will extend into 2019, as will an effort to rebuild units in the first powerhouse at Rock Island Dam. 2019 will hopefully see the beginning of a new customer information systems’ installation which will require the procurement of advanced meters. Land on which future substations will be built will also most likely find itself on the budget.

Despite the costly projects, the Chelan County PUD will not require an electric rate increase in 2019, according to PUD General Manager Steve Wright, “This budget assumes no electric rate increase for 2019. This will be seven straight years that we have not had a rate increase. If you go back to 2000, inflation has been roughly a little above forty percent, and we’ve only had rate increases of less than ten percent. We’re confident we can sustain that at least for 2019.”

Wright and the Chelan County Commissioners have even more reason to smile as the PUD’s debt ratio looks to dip under 35%, a benchmark they’ve had their eyes on for a while.

“That was really critical for us because it was a huge issue, as I understand it, from before the time I got here; the amount of debt that the PUD was carrying. The over billion dollars in debt. So that’s now been slashed in half. That puts us in a [good] position when we are making large capital investments, as we are currently. At some point we’re going to borrow money and we should be able to get very low cost money.”

Other budget issues discussed during Monday’s meeting include continuing the PUD’s fiber expansion and implementing a new rate for cryptocurrency mining operations.

Important upcoming PUD dates include:

  • Nov. 5 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom
  • Nov. 7 – Cryptocurrency rate information meeting, 5:30 .m., Confluence Technology Center
  • Nov. 19 – Cryptocurrency rate & moratorium hearing, 1 p.m., PUD board room
  • Dec. 3 – Cryptocurrency rate and 2019 budget resolutions

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