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TMCNet:  PUD needs five months to fix Lake Wenatchee fiber

[January 22, 2013]

PUD needs five months to fix Lake Wenatchee fiber

WENATCHEE, Jan 21, 2013 (The Wenatchee World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Residents of Lake Wenatchee's south shore will have their storm-damaged fiber-optics cable restored, but the fix could take as long as five months, Chelan County PUD officials said today.

The estimated 19-week repair time includes a six-week bidding period to sign a contractor and/or buy supplies, a week to get the job started in the field and an approximately 12-week build-out time, Mike Coleman, the PUD's managing director of fiber and telecommunications, told commissioners and a few Lake Wenatchee-area residents at Monday's commission meeting.

Starting in mid-December, a series of snow and wind storms in the Plain, Coles Corner and Lake Wenatchee areas sent hundreds of snow-laden trees toppling into power and fiber-optics lines, knocking out service for days and weeks in the heavily forested region.

Thirty eight PUD fiber customers remain without service around the area, not including the approximately 80 served by the south-shore Lake Wenatchee line, which officials said was too badly damaged to repair.

Coleman said the 38 should be back in service in about a week.

Private local companies use PUD fiber to deliver fast Internet, telephone and cable TV services to county residents.

The PUD was examining a possible switch to wireless broadband service along the south-shore to reduce costs and vulnerability to future storms.

But officials later determined that the wireless technology wouldn't work well there, due to the area's rugged topography, heavy forest cover and seasonal snowfall.

Instead, the PUD will replace the approximately 5.5 miles of damaged fiber, he said.

Replacement costs are estimated at $500,000 to $750,000, he said. Officials are still studying whether to use PUD employees to fix the line or hire a contract crew. The time frame is almost the same with either option, he said.

Coleman, other PUD staffers and commissioners will be at the Lake Wenatchee Recreation Club Saturday at noon to answer community questions about fiber.

They expect to have a fiber-replacement plan in place to present to commissioners Feb. 4, he said.

Christine Pratt: 665-1173 ___ (c)2013 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.) Visit The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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