Work on Okanogan-Brewster transmission line rebuild halted

Wells Dam embankment evaluated

The Okanogan PUD has stockpiled steel poles and other supplies to replace and repair the Okanogan-Brewster transmission line as soon as weather conditions permit. Mike Maltais/QCH

OKANOGAN - While a construction ban is in place on the Colville Tribal Reservation due to fire activity, the Okanogan County PUD’s work on the Okanogan-Brewster transmission line has been halted. Steel poles have been delivered, staged and are ready when work resumes on the line destroyed in the 2020 Cold Springs wildfire alongside Highway 97. Construction crews will work on distribution projects while they wait.
General Manager Steve Taylor said he continues to communicate with Tribal officials on how or when the PUD can move forward again.
In other business, the board:
● Heard an update on Wells Dam from Douglas County PUD General Manager Gary Ivory. Since the dam was built in the 1960s, the east embankment (on the Douglas County side) has required extra attention, including a 1990 concrete diaphragm wall to prevent movement and erosion. Douglas PUD is concerned that a seismic event could weaken the east embankment, so they have engaged engineering firms and a special board of consultants to help evaluate their options. They will be boring into the embankment next year and analyzing their findings to determine what, if any, mitigation measures need to be taken and the cost involved. Okanogan receives about 9.4 percent of the output from Wells, its least expensive resource. More information on the Wells project can be found at
● Heard from Customer Service Supervisor Mindy Morris that of 15,627 residential accounts, 90 are more than 90 days past due, with about $80,000 in arrears since the beginning of the moratorium on disconnections due to non-payment. Some have made no payments for more than a year and have not connected with the PUD for payment assistance or arrangements despite the staff’s efforts to help. So far this year, the PUD has received about $285,000 in bill assistance programs for 552 accounts, about $100,000 and 150 accounts more than this time last year. Resources are still available through Okanogan County Community Action Council and the Pateros-Brewster Resource Center, among other agencies.
● Approved the surplus of two older power transformers, which are being replaced this year. When they are removed, they will be immediately hauled off for scrapping.
● Set a workshop before the next regular board meeting from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., August 9, to discuss future planning and the upcoming budget season.
● Heard from Director of Finance & Accounting and Auditor Janet Crossland that the PUD recently completed an audit from the Department of Retirement Services, in which the only error discovered totaled about $45 back in 1991.
● Heard that district staff have been reviewing all the settings and switches for the headquarter building’s automated lighting system. Several items were updated to maximize efficiency.

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