In a sharp reversal of direction Chelan County PUD Commissioners have decided not to accept a 25 million dollar Federal grant to build out the district’s fiber optic network.
The board’s decision Monday afternoon followed a new staff analysis that showed actual costs of the build out far exceeded original estimates. Commissioners also learned that the three-year build-out schedule that the grant required cannot be met.
In the end, PUD General Manager John Janney said withdrawing from the grant was the only viable option, stressing that the District needs to get a better handle on the operational and maintenance costs before going forward with expanding the fiber system.
The board’s vote to cancel the Federal grant was unanimous.
After the meeting Janney said he expected that by the end of the year the district will have developed a long-term strategic plan for the fiber program.
Commissioners also rescinded the two percent electric rate increase that was to be used to generate the Federal grant’s 25 percent local matching funds.