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To stay on solid financial path, Chelan PUD limits fiber connections until next year

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To stay on solid financial path, Chelan PUD limits fiber connections until next year

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July 27, 2012
(Wenatchee, WA) Chelan County PUD has notified retail service providers who offer Internet, TV and telephone service over the PUD’s fiber-optic network that the PUD has reached the number of basic residential or business connections that can be paid for in this year’s fiber-optic budget.

Extensive public outreach culminated in a new strategic direction for the PUD fiber business, announced in April. A new set of financial policy targets was adopted by PUD commissioners at that time and is designed to put the PUD fiber business on a sustainable path over the long term.

Part of these new financial policies is a requirement that the fiber network not spend beyond its means, and the fiber network had enough cash to operate and maintain the network and connect roughly 700 new homes and businesses through 2012. That figure is expected to be reached within the next few weeks.

The PUD has told service providers that any orders placed July 24 or later will be put on hold. Based on current revenue forecasts, the PUD expects to resume connecting new homes and businesses in 2013.

Customers who call a service provider to request a connection can place their name on a waiting list. Service providers will work with the PUD to estimate how long it will take before new installations on the waiting list can be done, and customers will be notified.

If a fiber run and a connecting terminal are already installed at a home or business, a live connection can be made with little or no cost to the PUD and would still be authorized. Such low-cost connections provide additional cash flow for the overall fiber system and could ultimately allow for more connections in the future, and the PUD is still encouraging service providers to identify and activate such connections.

Customers within the existing fiber service area (available to roughly 70 percent of Chelan County) could also be connected if they wish to pay the entire cost of installation up front.

The average cost of a fiber service installation is $1,500, but each situation is somewhat different. Service providers will work with the PUD to develop a cost estimate for a service installation at a location and then provide that information to the customer in order to make a final decision.

Chelan PUD needs to limit the number of new service installations each year to keep within its budget for the fiber-optic network that was developed as part of a new fiber strategic plan. The plan, developed after extensive public input, surveys and consultation with service providers and with outside experts, is part of an ongoing effort to make the fiber-optic network financially sustainable for the long term and will help maintain a quality, reliable network.

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