by Richard Uhlhorn
The City of Chelan City Council and staff heard a presentation by Andy Wendell, PUD representative regarding its decision to add impact fees to defray costs. “We are seeing large developments,” Wendell said. “You have a fair amount of development going on,” he added.
Currently, the PUD has 35 existing substations in the County and another 13 in the planning stage. He mentioned development on the north shore and planned development at the airport. “Nineteen percent growth over the last year is significant.”
“When a substation reaches full capacity we start building new ones.” New substations cost between $5 and $8 million and the need for an additional 13 substations to take care of increased electricity needs means that the PUD needed to implement additional funding for capital improvements. Wendell said that development will share to new connections. “The fees assessed to new or growing customers is in support of the growth,” explained Wendell. “Growth pays for growth.”
Currently single phase 200-400 amp service to a new home is $1,295.
The PUD will be charging more for new hookups to help offset the expense of the new infrastructure.
Councilman John Olson asked what the City’s authority to impose impact fees on development is and City Administrator replied that the City has to be careful, however, he added that developers should pay for impact fees based on their impacts to the community.
Public Works Director, Jake Youngren added that the Utility Comprehensive Plan as increased its monthly rates. “We are charging the maximum allowable.” Olson replied that there are 100’s of things that Chelan pays for including aging infrastructure. “We are not planning far enough ahead and I would like to get something in place. The rate payers shouldn’t have to pay for new development.”
Youngren added that the City needs a rate structure that supports infrastructure.
Erin McCardle suggested a meeting. “We have to sit down and develop a five year growth projection. It might benefit all of us to be on the same page.” Tim Hollingsworth asked if there was another rate study coming up in 2023. The answer was Yes.
Wendell finished his presentation by telling the council that the most pressing thing for the PUD was to meet peak electrical demands. New substations will serve approximately 1,500 new homes which means county wide there could be another 19,500 new homes built in the next several years.
Sevando Robledo asked about crypto currency mining and Wendell stated that since the PUD set new application rates that it tempered applications. “We get inquiries, but haven’t had any new applications.”
John Olson feels that Chelan needs to add impact fees to help take care of new development infrastructure needs that includes impacts on transportation, sewer treatment, and aging infrastructure. “A $1,000 fee on each new home would not impact the mortgage, but would add close to a million a year to help update our infrastructure.”
Next Tuesday, there will be a public hearing by the Hearing Examiner to consider the huge 702 apartment complex being planned for Apple Blossom Center. This would be constructed near the new hospital and Columbia Valley Clinic along with WalMart and would potentially 1400 cars to an already congested transportation issue.
The public hearing will begin at 2 p.m. in City Council Chambers.