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PUD Commissioners Express Disappointment Over Fiber Buildout Costs

April 13, 2011

Chelan County PUD Commissioners were visibly dejected Monday after turning down a 25 million dollar

Federal grant and halting the build-out of the District’s Fiberoptic network. But given the new cost

estimates for completing the buildout they had little choice according to General Manager John Janney . Fiber

project managers now estimate that the 25 million dollar grant along with the PUD’s 25 percent local match

would fall way below what’s needed to complete the project. Steve Hair has been covering the story . . It

was also reported that the three-year build-out schedule required under the terms of the grant cannot be met.

Commissioner Carnan Bergren called the decision a setback but he was also thankful to staff for providing a more

accurate cost breakdown. The new cost analysis appears to support an earlier decision by Janney to fire two

former Fiber project managers. It was their cost estimates that Commissioners used to accept the Federal grant

last September. Over 68-hundred customers had been targeted for fiber service in the grant-funded project. Two

weeks ago Commissioners adopted a new fiber extension policy that sets a 15-hundred dollar cap on the amount the

PUD will spend to extend fiber to an individual customer. But Janney suggests that the new extension policy could

be subject to change as well . . The PUD had already completed some of the preplanning and design work for the

grant funded project. That work was paid for out of the 2 percent electric rate hike which was implemented as the

local match for the grant. Commissioners also took action yesterday to rescind the rate increase.

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