Chelan Public Utility District (PUD) has moved a step closer to creating a new, nonprofit research institute with the goal of helping dam operators around the world improve operations and supporting a hydropower technology hub in the Wenatchee Valley in Washington, US. 

On Monday, Commissioners unanimously authorized the approval of a “Bridging” Agreement” that sets in motion forming the Hydropower Research Institute (HRI), appointing directors and filing Articles of Incorporation.

Commissioners have approved $1.05 million in Public Power Benefit funding for hydropower research. Earlier this year they allocated an initial $500,000 of those PPB funds to launch the new Institute.

The initial focus of the nonprofit institute will be to collect and compile operating data from hydroelectric generators and coordinate analysis and research on operations with the potential, to reduce costs and increase revenues by reducing forced outages and develop new sensors and monitors to improve predictive capabilities

Memberships, subscriptions and the ability to apply for grants would bring in added funding. Local agriculture, education and technology groups also support the institute.

Chelan PUD is the founding HRI member. Signing up other dam owners and subscribers will follow the filing of articles of incorporation. A Board of Directors will oversee the institute. General Manager Steve Wright will appoint Chelan PUD’s representatives to that board.  

Other steps under Monday’s board action include hiring a Certified Public Accountant and an attorney and setting up a bank account, said Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director. Inspiration for the institute came from the community during strategic planning.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest in the industry, and it is really exciting that Chelan County will be a place where hydro project owners, researchers, students, manufacturers and suppliers can come together to move the industry forward in the digital transformation” Hudson said.