PublicUtilityDistrict No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD)
About Chelan PUD
Chelan County PUD was created by a vote
of the people in 1936 and delivered its first power in 1947. The PUD is governed by a locally elected five-member Board of Commissioners with the mission of enhancing the quality of life in Chelan County by providing sustainable, reliable utility services.
The Board of Commissioners sets policy for Chelan PUD. Three commissioners are elected to staggered six-year terms and two are elected at-large to staggered four-year terms. The Board hires the General Manager, oversees the development of the strategic plan, establishes rates; acts as a Board to establish policy, approve plans, budgets, and expenditures; and reviews operations.
The District owns and operates three hydroelectric dams, two larger projects on the Columbia River and a smaller project at the base of scenic Lake Chelan. The hydroelectric generators have a combined generator nameplate capacity of 1,988 MW. Native load is about 185 MW and peak load is about 400 MW. The power not used by native load is marketed and provides net income permitting competitive retail rates. With its substantial surplus electricity, Chelan actively engages in wholesale power marketing including regional and federal policymaking. The District also operates small hydroelectric and diesel generators to provide electric service to the remote community of Stehekin which is located at the head of Lake Chelan, inaccessible by car, and not connected to the larger electric system.
Chelan PUD is making significant hydropower investments to improve its generating capability, and in turn optimize its wholesale opportunities. In 2020, the PUD made progress on modernizing several units at Rock Island in Powerhouse I and began design work for rehabilitation of eight bulb generating units at Powerhouse 2. Work also advanced on replacement of turbine hub bushings on generating units at Rocky Reach.
The PUD serves more than 52,000 electric customers through 1,849 miles of service lines, more than half of which is underground, and 34 substations. There are multiple interconnections with BPA at 345, 230 and 115 kV.
Water and wastewater service is provided to 6,910 customers.
Fiber services are provided to approximately 18,837 premises and is available to about 30,000 premises in the county of which 89 percent use it for internet access, 52 percent for telephone service and 45 percent for television offered by private service providers. The fiber system generates about $10.5 million in annual revenue.
Chelan PUD rates are set by the locally elected Board. As a public power utility, the PUD Board engages its customers in its ongoing rates review process. It is not rate regulated by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. The PUD sets its rates to meet expenses and a bond coverage ratio of at least 2.0. Electric residential rates average 3.2 cents a kilowatt hour compared to 10.6 cents in the Northwest and 13.4 cents nationally.
in 2020, the PUD generated revenue of more than $353 million of which $255 million was from wholesale operations. Total assets are $2.0 billion and long-term debt is $507 million. As of 2021, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch rated Chelan PUD Aa3, AA+, and AA+ respectively. Public Financial Management (PFM) is the Financial Advisor.
Wholesale power sales continue to allow Chelan PUD to reduce its long-term debt and keep retail rates low. These surplus energy sales also support a public power benefit program, which provides free parks passes, an expanded broadband network, public art, electric vehicle charging stations and other community benefits.
The completion of a range of capital expansion projects is expected to optimize wholesale power sale opportunities in the future, provided the projects are completed within budget and on schedule.
Chelan PUD’s successes have been realized in large part due to community engagement, including effective interaction with local, state, regional, and federal administrations, legislatures, and regulatory agencies.
Rock Island’s FERC hydro license expires in 2028 and the PUD recently initiated the multi-year relicensing process.
The significant impact of the wholesale market on Chelan PUD places it outside the norm of rating agencies. While issues related to water flow for generation have been addressed through a power sales hedging strategy, regular and effective rating agency communication is essential to maintain Chelan PUD’s enviable financial standing. Chelan PUD is among the highest rated consumer-owned electric utilities in the country.
Customer satisfaction remains strong, with 86% of customers in 2020 reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with the PUD, particularly with regards to service reliability and quality of communications. A complementary stakeholder survey of 60 local organizations earned the utility extraordinarily high marks for efforts to work collaboratively with the community.
Chelan County, Washington
Chelan County PUD is in the geographical center of Washington state at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers. A public power leader, the complex and progressive nature of PUD operations offer a unique mix of challenges and opportunities for employees. It is a great place to work, live and play.
Wenatchee, which is the Chelan County seat, is 138 miles east of Seattle and 165 miles west of Spokane. Wenatchee is rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 mountain towns in the U.S. and is a recreation paradise. In addition to Wenatchee, Chelan County also includes additional vibrant communities such as Leavenworth, Cashmere, Chelan and Entiat, among others, each of which offer their own unique perspective and attractions.
The local economy is based primarily on agriculture with a concentration on tree fruit and a thriving winery sector. Large employers include a regional medical center, tourism, steel, and machinery fabricating and food processing.
Chelan County has a population of more than 78,000. Douglas County’s population is about 45,000. The Wenatchee – East Wenatchee metropolitan region has a population in excess of 116,000. Wenatchee’s most recent unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, Wenatchee cost of living is 6 percent lower than the national average. The median home price is $390,000.
The General Manager is the chief executive officer of Chelan PUD, reports to the Commission and is responsible for approximately 759 employees. Local 77 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represent more than 400 employees.
A bachelor’s degree in business, economics, engineering, finance, public administration, or other related fields of study is important and post-graduate education is an added benefit. A combination of an undergraduate degree in engineering or a related technical field and a master’s in business could be ideal.
Candidates should possess significant electric industry experience, including a history of progressively responsible assignments demonstrating successful performance at the senior management level. Proven success in executive leadership of project management is a plus.
Experience with public power utilities is desirable. Demonstrated successful interaction with a board of directors or similar governing body is ideal.
Experience should include involvement in multiple segments of the electric industry (generation, transmission, and distribution), with an emphasis on power supply, wholesale power marketing and risk management.
Knowledge of and understanding of power markets, especially in the Western Interconnection.
A proven record of accomplishment of success leading an organization like Chelan PUD in purpose, size and composition is highly desirable.
Proven success in government relations is preferred.
Compensation and Relocation
Chelan PUD will provide a competitive base salary and a full complement of fringe benefits that includes participation in the state of Washington’s Department of Retirement Systems (PERS), which requires employee contribution. Chelan PUD also provides a 457 deferred compensation plan.
Chelan PUD will incur the customary costs associated with relocation, but not real estate expenses.
Please submit cover letters and resumes in PDF form by June 18, 2021 to: