WENATCHEE — Lake Wenatchee’s south-shore residents get to keep the fiber-optic network and its fast Internet, telephone and cable TV service that they’ve lobbied hard to get.
Chelan County PUD officials late Friday announced that they will rebuild the shore’s storm-damaged fiber optics cable after determining that a cheaper, wireless alternative “is not the best option at this time.”
“The PUD will find the most cost-effective option for rebuilding the heavily damaged fiber-optic system serving the south-shore area,” utility spokesman Steve Lachowicz said in a news release.
“Wireless may still be considered as an option in the future to serve other areas of the county where fiber service is not available, but it has been removed from consideration for serving the Lake Wenatchee area due to technical considerations and the time required for a full evaluation to make sure it would meet customers’ needs,” the news release said.
A series of December snow storms sent hundreds of snow-laden trees falling into power lines all around the Plain/Lake Wenatchee/Coles Corner region.
The damage produced widespread and prolonged outages of both electricity and fiber-optic service. PUD officials determined early last week that the portion of fiber along the lake’s south shore was too badly damaged to repair.
Officials were considering a switch to wireless broadband service to save money on a fiber-replacement job they said could cost as much as $750,000 and could again be damaged in another storm.
South-shore homeowners responded with indignation, insisting that heavy forest cover and topography would render a wireless system virtually useless. Many run businesses at least part time from their lakeshore homes. Other have become accustomed to the fast communications, and 9-1-1 emergency-dispatch service facilitated by fiber.
Many insisted that a PUD decision to scrap the south-shore fiber line would set a “bad precedent” for PUD fiber customers elsewhere in the county.
PUD officials will host a public meeting Saturday, Jan. 26 at noon, tentatively scheduled at the Lake Wenatchee Recreation Club near the airstrip to explain the next steps for restoring fiber service to the approximately 80 lakeshore residents who have been without fiber since the storms.
PUD managers will answer questions about the process and the timing of the restoration work, the news release said. Based on public input from the meeting Jan. 26, the fiber restoration plan will be on the PUD board agenda on Feb. 4.
PUD fiber crews are still restoring other customers out of service on the north shore and other areas. Most of the electrical customers in the area have had service restored, except for a few in the most remote areas of the south shore, the news release said.
To make comment on the restoration plan before the meeting date, contact the PUD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509 661-4151.
Christine Pratt: 665-1173