The Douglas County PUD is making contract changes to the biggest and most expensive project in the utility's history. 

PUD commissioners this week authorized nearly a million dollars ($929,719.00) to pay for a spare part and offer incentives for contractors working on power generating units at Wells Dam. 

The contract change brings the cost of rebuilding the dam's 10 power generating units to almost $245 million, which spokesperson Meaghan Vibbert says is highly worthwhile. 

"It's extending the life of the Wells Project that provides us this clean, renewable, inexpensive power for our customers," said Vibbert. "So, it's a good project." 

Rebuilding all 10 generating units will cost more than it did to build the original Dam in 1965. 

The cost is being spread over the course of the project which is taking 20 plus years to complete. 

Vibbert says the contract changes will allow for funding of a spare part that can be placed into any generating unit to keep it functional while the unit's original part is being rebuilt. 

“It can be dropped into the unit, and while the one that came out of the unit is being rebuilt, they can move on to the next one type of a deal,” said Vibbert, “So, it’ll speed up the unit outage, and also, we’ll have a spare part if and when anything happens to that in the future.”   

The spare part is known as a Runner Hub, which is pictured at the top of this story. 

The incentive being put in place for contractor’s is meant to speed up work on the power generating units.  

So far, five of the 10 units have been rebuilt since the process started in 2006. Since that time, the contractors have become much more efficient, with the average rebuild taking 13-14 months. It’s hoped that the incentive package will speed the process up even further, with the possibility that all 10 generating units could be rebuilt in the next several years. 

The cost to build the dam 57 years ago was $202 million. Wells Dam south of Pateros is the only hydro power dam operated by Douglas PUD. It supplies electricity to all residents in the county.

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