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More outages in Lake Wenatchee area are likely until trees shed snow

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More outages in Lake Wenatchee area are likely until trees shed snow

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January 8, 2013
(Wenatchee, WA) Chelan County PUD customers in the Lake Wenatchee area including Plain, Fish Lake, Coles Corner and the Chiwawa Loop are likely to face more power outages this winter until there is a significant change in the weather, Chad Rissman, Distribution engineering manager, told PUD commissioners Monday.

PUD electric, fiber and contract tree pruning crews continue to restore power, reconnect fiber service and prune and remove danger trees in the areas so heavily damaged by last month’s snowstorm and falling trees.

But as another outage Monday on the transmission line showed, trees are continuing to fall. Power lines are threatened, and it’s likely there will be additional outages, both on the transmission line that carries power into the area and on distribution lines that extend into neighborhoods and to individual services, Rissman said.

Following the update, commissioners confirmed an emergency declaration issued Dec. 23, 2012, authorizing General Manager John Janney to take all reasonable and necessary steps to repair the extensive damage to PUD electric and fiber lines from the storm that hit the area the week before Christmas.

Rissman estimated repairs to the electric system will cost about $3 million, but he cautioned the situation is still unfolding. He promised more details on outage impacts in a few weeks.

Mike Coleman, Fiber and Telecom managing director, said fiber reconnections are progressing on the north shore of Lake Wenatchee and in other areas, but he added that fiber infrastructure on the south shore of Lake Wenatchee is damaged so badly that it must be rebuilt.

PUD staff is expediting a review of viable options to restore broadband service to this area by:

  • Hiring a contractor to rebuild the system as it was, or;
  • Using PUD crews to install up to 5.5 miles of new fiber-optic cable and focus on splicing in service to full time residents first, or;
  • Build a wireless broadband system to supply Internet access across the lake from the north shore.

“We are committing to continue to serve that area and we will get service back there,” Coleman said.

He added that new fiber connections in other areas of the county that were planned to start after the first of the year are on hold for three to five weeks until the Lake Wenatchee repairs are complete.

Commissioner Carnan Bergren to lead PUD board in 2013 

Chelan PUD Board of Commissioners Monday elected Carnan Bergren as 2013 board president. Bergren was commission vice president in 2011 and 2012. He received the gravel from Commissioner Norm Gutzwiler, who served as board president since January 2011.

Bergren, a Peshastin orchardist, ran unopposed and was re-elected in November to a second, four-year term representing at-large District A.

Other PUD board officers for 2013 are Ann Congdon, vice president, and Dennis Bolz, secretary.

Before choosing new officers, Bergren and Commissioner Randy Smith of Cashmere – re-elected to a second six-year term representing District 2 – were sworn into office by Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore.

In other business Monday, commissioners:

  • Heard that the Wenatchee office will be closed to customers from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 21, to allow Customer Service employees to attend training. John Stoll, head of Customer Utilities, said the Martin Luther King holiday is usually quiet, even though it is not a holiday for the PUD. Stoll also announced the promotion of 21-year employee Kerri Wendell to Customer Service manager. She suggested the training as part of the transition that is following a reorganization in Customer Utilities, triggered by several retirements. The PUD’s Leavenworth and Chelan offices will be open as usual.

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