Chelan PUD To Hold Public Meeting On Peshastin Water Dis Purchase
The Chelan PUD is holding a public informational meeting next week about its plan to acquire the Peshastin Water District.
The PUD is close to finalizing its acquisition of the district and plans to close on the transaction by late March.
The utility won't pay anything for the water system, except covering some existing loans and debt.
The acquisition has been in the works since 2016, when the water district asked the PUD to take on the 240-meter system for better efficiency.
Once the change is made, the water rates for residential customers will likely drop a bit as the average residential water customer pays about $67 per month under Peshastin Water District rates. Chelan PUD rates would be about $63 per month.
But Peshastin customers will have an added fee every month known as an "adder". The fee will cover the cost of system improvements the PUD is making to the water system and the water district's debt.
The PUD plans to invest $2.6 million in improvements, including $1.9 million for a new well.
It is using internal loans from its department to come up with needed money. The internal loans will replace the Peshastin Water District's existing external loans (just under $1 million in 2023) and cover construction costs for new capital projects.
The additional fee or "adder" for Peshastin customers is based on overall water use, but on average, will be $17/month per residential customer, $33/month per commercial, $1,780/month per industrial customer.
Qualifying residential low-income senior/disabled customers are eligible for a $20/month discount.
There are only two companies operating in Peshastin that use power at the level of an industrial customer.
The adder charges to Peshastin customers will sunset once the internal loans are paid off.
Currently, the replacement loan for the water district's existing debt is scheduled to be satisfied in 10 years, while the capital projects loan will take 20 years to pay off.
PUD water and wastewater manager Ron Slabaugh says there are ways to ease or eliminate the extra costs on customers.
"If we happen to find some feasible funding, that would offset that," said Slabaugh. "Then, of course the board could consider that grant funding and adjust the adder (fee) at that time."
He also said they learned about a money source to offset customer cost increases through the state Department of Health.
"We met with the regional engineer and the planner," Slabaugh said. "And we did talk a little bit about Peshastin Water District and learned of some upcoming funding opportunities."
Slabaugh said the application process for funding through the health department will take place in October, and that they plan to be prepared to submit an application.
The Peshastin community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Peshastin Dryden Elementary School.
Customers can also submit comments to email@example.com, or attend a rate hearing at the Jan. 22 Commission meeting.
Commissioners will vote on the rate plan for Peshastin customers Feb. 5.
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