WENATCHEE — The Chelan County PUD will no longer provide battery back-up service to county residents who receive their telephone service through PUD equipment.
Commissioners Tuesday approved a contract that would require LocalTel Communications, a private, local company to remove the approximately 12,000 batteries from PUD equipment.
Customers who wish to continue with a back-up service can contract with LocalTel for a small extra monthly fee or buy their own battery backup system, Dimitri Mandelis, president of LocalTel, said Tuesday.
The PUD batteries provide a power backup only for old-style telephones that plug into phone jacks and don’t need to be connected also to electrical outlets.
“You’re taking away a service that is essential for an awful lot of people with nothing to take its place,” longtime Lake Wenatchee resident George Wilson told commissioners Tuesday, of he and his neighbors who have old-style telephones to use in case of emergency when the power’s out.
The PUD expects to save about $200,000 annually by no longer having to monitor and service the batteries.
A consultant hired by the PUD to study how to reduce costs recommended the move, PUD officials say.