New rate charges are now set for the biggest users of power in Chelan County.

Data centers will join cryptocurrency operations in the highest rate payer class and once they collectively start using 10 megawatts of power, their rate will substantially increase.

Chelan County PUD business manager Lindsey Mohns says the changes include requirements to protect all other customers from any adverse impact from the heavy power users.

"The whole objective that the board gave us was to establish rates for a group of customers that would allow them to operate within our service area without having an impact on our other customers," said Mohns. "To ensure that we didn't have cost shifting or other things that would create rate issues or other problems for our customers."

Chelan PUD commissioners approved the new rate changes for data centers and cryptocurrency operations on Monday.

They'll go into effect in February of next year.

Mohns noted at Monday's meeting that the new rate plan was made widely available to the public.

"For this proposal, we heard two customers speak at our last board meeting, so the commission is well aware of their thoughts on the rate,” Mohns said. "We've also received several comments in writing, which I believe have also been forwarded to the board as well. A majority of those were in support of the proposal."

The highest rate payer class, which is known as Rate 36, includes a limited number of crypto currencies and data centers.

There are 7 services, run by 4 different data center or cryptocurrency operations that have a combined usage of nine megawatts.

There's an eighth application under review which would bring the total authorized load forecast to 9.5 Megawatts.

At 9.5 megawatts, the customers in Rate 36 wiill be charged for the cost to produce the energy, which is currently figured at 3.04¢ per kilowatt hour.

The rate paid by the data centers and the bitcoin miners in Rate 36 will spike if they collectively used more than 10 megawatts.

The 3.04¢ per kilowatt hour would be blended with the current market energy charge, which is now 12¢. The outcome of the blending process would nearly double the charge for Rate 36 customers from the 3.04¢ to 6.03¢ per kilowatt hour.

The market energy charge is figured by several factors, including an index price along with administrative cost and other energy charges.

Other high power use customers are in the rate payer class called Rate 35. They're considered High Density Load users similar to Rate 36, although Rate 36 customers present specific risks if their loads get excessive. The data centers will be moving from Rate 35 to Rate 36.

Rate 35 will consist of all customers not in Rate 36 that have an energy use intensity of 250 kilowatts per square foot per year.

Chelan PUD Commissioners initially adopted the higher rate for crypto-currency customers back in 2018.

It was scheduled to go into effect as Rate 36 in January of 2022, but was delayed until June.

The rate was increased again in 2023. That increase was delayed from April 1 to August 1, and was further delayed last month after the addition of data centers to Rate 36 was proposed.

The new changes also include measures for the PUD to reduce its exposure to the various risks it might face.

They include prohibiting high density power loads to certain areas of the county because of limitations to transmission line capabilities.

Also, new loads will not be approved if their addition exceeded 70% of design capacity for a given substation. Each substation will not carry a high-density load of more than three megawatts.

In addition, high density load customers will be the first to be cut off from power service if a particular substation experiences a peaking situation that could cause it to drop offline.

Financial measures will also be taken to avoid risk.

Demand charges will be billed to customers at the maximum amount. The customer will be billed for the full amount of power it's authorized to use.

Customers will also be billed at least 90 percent of their authorized usage amount, even if they consumed less energy.

Security deposits will also be three times a customer's projected monthly bill.

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