Energy use in the Lake Chelan area has grown 3 to 5 times higher than in other areas of the county since 2015, staff reported to Chelan PUD commissioners Monday.
This is accelerating planning to meet the area-wide electric needs for new homes, businesses and industry, including an invitation to community members to help identify and weigh options.
“We’re definitely applying lessons learned when planning for new infrastructure,” said John Stoll, Customer Service managing director. “We heard from our customers they want to be kept informed – early and often.”
Customer Service Director Andy Wendell said forecasts show the need to build a new substation near Lake Chelan Dam, south of Chelan’s city limits, by 2024 to maintain reliable service and have power available for new and existing customers. New transmission lines are needed, too.
“We want to try to help our customers understand the drivers that are leading to this growth,” Wendell said.
The “geography” of future load is key to developing and evaluating options for a new substation, he said, as are community and PUD values. “Hardening” the power system against wildfire risk is another aspect.
Wendell reviewed current load on the area’s existing five substations; three of which are now above 80-percent capacity. Forecasts for meeting future load assume the new North Shore substation is built and online by 2021.
Commissioners agreed that now is the time to reach out to the community. They reviewed an initial list of 15-plus stakeholders and encouraged others in the Chelan Valley who are interested to contact Customer Service staff at (509) 661-4562, or email@example.com.
Wendell said staff is fine-tuning options now to be ready for community conversations in early spring. He plans to provide an update on stakeholder feedback to commissioners by early summer.
Press release provided by Chelan PUD.