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OKANOGAN – The conservation loan program is being discontinued by the Okanogan County Public Utility District.

PUD commissioners, during their Sept. 23 meeting, said they received very little feedback from customers about ending the program.

People have until Oct. 31 to apply for a loan.

The program allowed customers to request a loan up to $10,000 for energy-saving projects around their homes, such as windows, doors, heating and cooling systems or insulation. The program began in 1996, and has seen a major decline in interest in recent years, said PUD officials.

Commissioners said they would be open to rewriting the program and joining with a lending institution if there is enough need from customers to bring a similar program back.

The end of the conservation loan program does not affect any incentive programs through the PUD or Okanogan County Community Action Council.

In other business, the board:

-Authorized the General Manager Steve Taylor to execute a change to the design-build contract with the Max J. Kuney Co. for up to $431,317.

Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Jeri Timm said the scope of work for Enloe Dam Phase 1 services includes proceeding with planning, permitting, detailed design and preparation of construction cost estimates for dam safety dewatering facilities construction.

A guaranteed maximum price proposal is due to the district by Dec. 6 at the end of Phase 1.

-Heard an update on the generation department from Timm. She notified the Board that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for Enloe Dam was terminated Sept. 12.

Timm said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a letter of clarification June 12 that the Enloe Dam right of way will continue after the FERC license is terminated.

She summarized efforts the district has completed to ensure the state Department of Ecology’s dam safety division was prepared to oversee dam safety jurisdiction of Enloe Dam, as it had done before the FERC license was issued.

The utility has decided not to pursue power generation at the dam on the Similkameen River.

-Heard from Matt Stevie, environmental coordinator, on the state Disaster Resiliency Work Group, on which he is a representative for public utility districts.

The work group was created by the 2019 Legislature to review disaster resiliency activities and provide recommendations to the Legislature on whether the state should have an ongoing resiliency program.

-Heard an update about the Sunny Okanogan Community Solar project, which is beginning to gather interest among customers.

Participants can buy units in the project, which could be as large as 74.4 kilowatts, and share the cost and benefits of solar power, including an annual state incentive and credit on power bills relative to the customer’s portion of the project’s production.

More information has been posted on the district’s website and Facebook page. The project cannot be built without customer participation, said PUD officials.

-Authorized Taylor to sign the amended contract with Bonneville Power Administration to move from Slice and block electricity programs to a block product only.

The selection was made by staff some time ago, but the final paperwork needed to be completed.

The PUD will receive an average 45-megawatt block of power monthly (more in higher-usage months and less in lower-usage months).

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