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Commissioners Approve Electric Rate Increase to Pay For Fiber Buildout

November 09, 2010

Chelan County PUD electric customers will see a 2 percent increase for services on their December

power bill. That's their share of the local cost of the District's accepting a 25 million dollar Federal grant

to build out the utility's wholesale fiber optic system. PUD Commissioners approved the increase at their Monday

afternoon meeting.

Accepting the Federal grant obligates the district to cover 8.3 million dollars of the

costs. There was vocal opposition at the at the rate hearing, most people questioning the fairness of charging

large industrial users an increase even when they might not be served by the fiber system. Some also questioned if

the demand for fiber justifies the expense of the buildout. Even with current buildout to over 80 percent of the

County, less than half of the customers who have access to fiber are actually connected.

Pat Burnett of

Leavenworth questioned the rate increase given the relative low demand for high speed fiber. Burnett asked the

District's Fiber program manager, John Smith just how high is the demand? (Click arrow for audio)

Meanwhile, George Wilson of Lake Wenatchee spoke in favor of the rate increase, saying the fiber grant was the

right step for the PUD to take and that expanding the fiber system would enhance the County's economy.
Along

with the 2-percent rate increase, any discounts that are in effect for low-income seniors and disabled customers

will also be increased by the same percentage. The changes will take effect Dec. 1.
attractiveness of Chelan

County for overall business and development.

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