[5/14/19] Pud/Stemilt Agreement

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At yesterday’s Chelan PUD board meeting Commissioners approved three agreements with Stemilt Growers to accommodate power needs for the Diamond Foundry, a gemstone manufacturer setting up new operations. Stemilt is leasing space to the Diamond Foundry in the Hawley Street area of Wenatchee.

Under one agreement, a new substation will be constructed to provide up to 19 megawatts of power to the Diamond Foundry by a target date of March 2020. Stemilt has proposed that it build the substation – with design and engineering review by the PUD – in order to power the new manufacturer. Current substation capacity would not meet the increased energy demand.

Two other agreements set up leases to allow for the substation construction. The PUD will lease land to Stemilt on Hawley Street where the substation will be sited, and Stemilt will lease land to the PUD on Miller Street for storage of utility materials and equipment.

Chad Rissman, PUD Director of Asset Management, briefed commissioners on the extensive coordination needed with Stemilt to meet an expedited substation construction timeline. While typically 18 months is required to energize a new substation once transformers are ordered, this project is slated for completion in less than a year.

PUD staff stressed the value of the public-private partnership that will create economic development benefits for Chelan County. The new Diamond Foundry will create between 35-50 jobs in Wenatchee, with the intent to hire local talent.

In addition to the three agreements, PUD commissioners reviewed a large-load power contract with the Diamond Foundry. This contract is set for consideration and potential board approval at the next regular PUD commission meeting Monday June 3rd. The pricing is based on the high-density load rate adopted in 2017.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard a presentation on a proposed land exchange with the City of Entiat, adjacent to the city’s riverfront park, for constructing a storage shed to house park equipment.

  • Heard a presentation about fire mitigation strategies the utility is using to minimize fire risks throughout its service territory

  • Received an update on the PUD’s strategic planning process. A draft plan is expected in late summer. In late May, customers will have opportunities to complete surveys online or by mail to provide input on a range of key issues to help shape the PUD’s direction for the next five years.