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Substation project will provide more reliable service to Alcoa, support local jobs

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Substation project will provide more reliable service to Alcoa, support local jobs

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February 20, 2013
This undated handout image received 07 M(Wenatchee, WA) A nearly seven-year project to upgrade two aging substations will result in a more reliable power supply for three aluminum pot lines at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works and support the local jobs that came with securing the new power contract between the plant and the Chelan PUD.

The PUD, Alcoa, Bonneville Power Administration and several private firms worked closely together on the $20 million project that started with planning in 2006, said Chad Bowman, Transmission and Compliance director. Construction began in 2010 and is expected to finish in April this year. Alcoa covered the cost of all the work, which involved its contractors plus Chelan PUD journeyman wiremen and technicians working at the site and support from PUD departments including System Operations, Legal, Safety, Environmental, Engineering, Project Management and Drafting.

The work was done while electricity continued to flow through Chelan PUD’s 1960s-era McKenzie Substation and BPA’s adjacent Valhalla Substation, built in the 1950s, said George Velazquez, project manager. It continued through a decision to restart the third pot line at the plant, which came a year ahead of schedule.

Alcoa’s Bob Huber and Doug Stanaway thanked PUD commissioners and all the staff involved for completing the project safely, on time and on budget.

“It was an excellent effort, thanks to everyone involved,” said Stanaway, Alcoa’s engineering and maintenance manager.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners:

  • Heard from Chief Financial/Risk Officer Kelly Boyd about credit agency reports in advance of a change in banks providing secondary financial support for the PUD’s 2008A variable rate bonds. A two-part review by rating agencies is a step in that process, Boyd explained, with the short-term outlook adjusted slightly lower by Fitch Ratings to reflect the rating of the new bank. Moody’s Investor Service kept the short-term rating the same. Fitch also affirmed the PUD’s long-term rating of AA+ with a negative outlook. Moody’s lowered the PUD’s long-term rating to Aa3, but changed the outlook from negative to stable. A Standard and Poor’s update is expected in the next few days. “We are highly rated and will continue to be,” Boyd said, noting the District’s continued debt reduction plans and strong financial metrics.
  • Heard an update from the PUD Sustainability Team which was created in 2008 to help find and track projects that expand on the PUD’s legacy of clean, renewable hydropower. Recent efforts have included water conservation at fish hatcheries, lighting and HVAC efficiency upgrades at PUD Headquarters and having more than 5,300 customers switch to paperless billing so far.
  • Congratulated Commissioner Norm Gutzwiler for his 10-year service on the board.

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