Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom managing director, Monday outlined for PUD commissioners the work that will be done next year. The result will be improved data speeds, a move to newer technology and increased reliability for some users.
Coleman said the PUD has budgeted for about 600 fiber line extensions in 2013 in areas where service is available, and the District already has received 262 requests.
The PUD is also evaluating operation of its video headend, which brings TV programming to local service providers. Those firms sell TV service to about 5,800 customers. The PUD is maintaining and repairing existing equipment, and service providers are able to purchase and add components to expand service.
Other items on the 2013 “to do” list for fiber are studying the cost of each service, looking at rates and fees, evaluating other technology such as wireless to expand access and monitoring possible changes in state law that might give PUDs retail fiber authority.
Earlier this year commissioners set the direction for continued operation of the fiber network under financial policies to ensure the fiber system is operated as a self-sustaining business with no new cash or loans from other District sources.
In other business Monday, commissioners:
- Heard plans for early repayment of about $54 million in debt by the end of the year, six months earlier than expected. Treasurer Debbie Litchfield said the District will primarily use cash from unspent bond proceeds to pay off notes that are due in July 2013. In addition, the PUD plans to repay early about another $24 million in the first quarter of 2013 for bonds with maturities from 2013 to 2017. The early repayments will provide savings over time and support the District’s Strategic Plan and the customer preference for debt reduction.
- Were updated on plans to close PUD lobbies to the public at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24. John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said experience has shown very few customers come to PUD offices in Wenatchee, Chelan and Leavenworth after noon on Christmas Eve. The move also recognizes the practice of many local businesses. PUD offices will reopen to the public at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26. There will be no change in business hours on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, Stoll said.