Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Chelan County PUD have a new contract for renewable hydropower from the PUD's two dams on the Columbia River. 

The Seattle area utility will purchase five percent of the total output from the PUD's Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams for five years at a fixed rate. 

PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen says they hold an auction every spring for a five year, five percent slice of the dams' production. 

"A number of utilities and energy trading companies, they will send their best offers," said Hansen. "And for this round, Puget Sound Energy gave us the best offer. So, we awarded the bid to them." 

The five-year “slice” contract supplies PSE with Chelan hydropower from 2024 through 2028.  

The arrangement allows the PUD is sell its surplus power on the open market and gives PSE an opportunity use pollution free energy. 

The contract complements an existing contract between the two utilities. PUD commissioners approved a contract in February that continued an arrangement for the PUD to sell 25 percent of its entire power generation to PSE on a longer term basis. 

The agreements help PSE satisfy requirements in Washington's Clean Energy Transformation Act.  

The law was passed by the state legislature and went into effect in 2019.  

It requires all Washington utilities to be 80 percent carbon free by 2030, and requires them to be 100 percent compliant by 2045.  

Between 2030 and 2045, the utilities can buy renewable energy credits to satisfy the other 20 percent.  

Chelan PUD analyses how much power its 50,000 countywide customers will use, which is normally 20 to 30 percent of its total output.  

The balance is sold on the open wholesale market under arrangements ranging in length from daily to the five and  20 years agreements it has with Puget Sound Energy.  

Hansen says those contracts insulate the PUD from changing conditions.  

"By locking in this market rate now, it kind of helps protect financial stability in case of risks like volatile market years, or if we have a low water year," Hansen said. 

The PUD is also able to maximize the price it gets for its surplus power sales because it's carbon free and because the PUD has the capacity to supply the power. 

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