The electricity in Chelan County is very inexpensive thanks to the pioneers of the Chelan PUD who had the courage to put together a system including Rock Island, Rocky Reach and Chelan Falls. Is it possible that the cost of electricity could be reduced even further based on the future increased revenue available to the Chelan PUD?
Back in the early 1970’s Kirby Billingsley, one of the great pioneers of the Chelan PUD, speculated that electricity to the customer-owners could be free once the bonds for the Rocky Reach Dam were paid off. The PUD management has a list of reasons why the cost of electricity shouldn’t be reduced. However, the cash reserves of the Chelan PUD could dramatically increase as more power is sold on the open market.
Paying down the debt is very important and debt reduction should have a high priority but the customer-owners need to keep an eye on the Chelan PUD and be involved in determining how the CPUD spends its cash reserves. Poor decisions without in-depth customer-owner input led to financial disasters such as the diesel generators and even the much appreciated fiber optics project. These two projects alone added in excess of $150 million to the CPUD debt.
Unfortunately, the customer-owners who attend planning meetings and provide input to help determine future expenditures are also the ones who have the highest incomes and support developments that frequently benefit from the suggestions they push. As usual, those who struggle paying their electrical bill or the youth in our valley needing encouragement for future education and employment lack a voice in the process
The PUD management will always emphasize that the cost of the distribution of the electrical power is greater than the income from rate payers. This is true but if management is willing to further expand fiber optics, which doesn’t pay for itself or add more parks which costs a bundle to build and maintain or add more docks that add expense but produce no revenue or front fund the cost of expanded water and sewage systems that draw down the financial reserves, than I would think they should also be open to considering lower electrical rates even though the electrical rates don’t pay for the distribution costs. Just because the CPUD rates are the second lowest in the nation doesn’t mean that some of the customer owners aren’t struggling with their payments. I know the Chelan PUD can’t lower rates just for those financially challenged so lower electrical rates for everyone.
The Chelan PUD is a jewel in our valley. Don’t accept that future Chelan PUD expenditures should only add more value for those who already enjoy the benefits within Chelan County. More could be done to introduce our young people to innovative educational development and become involved in projects to maximize their potential. More trails, parks, recreation fields and docks are always popular options but the youth are the investment that will provide a real future for the valley.