Peshastin Water District customers will see little changes in their monthly rates after Chelan PUD takes over the district. 

The rates were scheduled to drop under PUD management, but a rate equalization charge will be added to help finance $2.6 million in improvements the PUD is making to the system. 

PUD Commissioner Randy Smith says the charge makes much more sense than a much larger monthly fee originally proposed for Peshastin customers. 

"A smooth transition, no big jumps," said Smith. "The certainly they will have going forward with this proposal is better than what we've been talking about in the past. So, I really think that's a big positive with me."  

The adjusted rates will go into effect in June. 

The previous plan called for Peshastin Water District customers to pay a $16.00 monthly charge in addition to normal charges. 

Chelan PUD commissioners voted instead to direct staff to create a rate equalization charge at their last meeting. 

The PUD rates by themselves would have lowered Peshastin water bills for residential customers by a little under $5 a month and industrial customers by close to $700 a month. 

The rate equalization charge will keep rates consistent with a plan adopted by the Peshastin Water District several years ago to increase the rates by 4% annually between 2024 and 2030. 

The rate equalization charge is expected to generate about $33,000 a year toward covering the improvements in Peshastin. 

It will be in place for three years, which will not come close to covering the $2.6 million in improvements planned (including $2 million for a replacement water well.) 

PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen said the three years will give the PUD time to look for outside funding, possibly through grants, to pay for the upgrades. 

In January, the PUD proposed a “rate adder” - the $16.00 additional monthly charge - for Peshastin customers to cover the cost of the system improvements over about 20 years. That proposal was dropped after Peshastin customers said the charge would present them with a major financial burden. 

The PUD will reassess the rate equalization charge in three years as part of its annual fees and charges review. Commissioners discussed whether to extend the charge to six years before reassessment because of the Peshastin Water District rate plan for those six years, but ultimately decided otherwise. 

PUD commissioner Steve McKenna said the rate equalization charge for the three-year cycle is the best option moving forward. 

“This truly was the work of lots of negotiations to get to this point,” said McKenna. “And I think we need to honor that clarity, move forward, vote and give our rate payers the benefit of clarity over the next three years.” 

The plan for the PUD to take over water operations in Peshastin has been in the works since 2016, when Peshastin Water District asked to join Chelan PUD for better efficiency. The PUD already operates the wastewater system in Peshastin. The benefits to customers include faster outage response, more operational support, more payment options, and low-income senior and disabled customer discounts. 

Chelan PUD currently operates five water systems in Wenatchee, Chelan Falls, Chelan Ridge, Dryden and Ollala Canyon, which collectively serve more than 6,500 homes and businesses. 

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