Community Engagement

Commissioners OK spending plan for Chelan County PUD

Commissioners for Washington State’s Chelan County PUD on Dec. 2 approved a spending plan for next year that continues upgrades at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams, keeps plans on track to make electric service more reliable and brings on new technology offering services that customer-owners want, Chelan said.

The budget is based on five-year business plans and supports the priorities outlined in Chelan PUD’s new strategic plan.

The budget calls for about $170 million in spending on capital projects, including:

  • Continued modernizing work on hydro units and cranes at Rock Island Dam;
  • Continued upgrades of warehouse, work space and crew buildings at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams;
  • Continued large unit repairs at Rocky Reach;
  • The start of construction on the Service and Operations Center; and
  • Launching construction and/or upgrades of four substations

The 2020 budget also reflects the PUD’s strong finances, it said. The District forecasts ending 2020 with a positive bottom line of $58.1 million.

New rating agency report underscores financial strength

Chelan said a new rating agency report underscores that financial strength. Treasurer Debbie Litchfield reported that Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed Chelan PUD’s AA+ rating with a stable outlook.  

“High bond ratings ultimately keep electric rates low for our customer-owners,” Litchfield said. “It puts us among the most highly rated utilities in the nation by both Fitch and Standard and Poor’s.

“This gives our customer-owners confidence we’re doing all we can do to keep the District financially healthy.”

Also included in the 2020 budget is continued expansion of a fiber network and funding for day use passes at PUD parks operated by the state as part of the Public Power Benefit program.

While the forecasted 2020 bottom line is positive, it is down about $20 million from the 2019 budget, reflecting changes in wholesale power markets and significant spending for hydro work, Chelan noted.

Total spending and scheduled debt payments of $440 million forecast for 2020 is about 10 percent more than the 2019 budget.