The power of the Columbia River was harnessed in 1933, when four turbine units at the Rock Island Dam were first set in motion. Clean, carbon free power became available at low cost to citizens of Chelan County, a benefit enjoyed to this day. Like other visionary public projects from this era, the Dam’s design was defined by the intersection of engineering innovation and pride-of-place, creating monumental and lasting infrastructure for generations. Today, Powerhouse 1 rests confidently beneath ancient cliffs on the east side of the Columbia, its iconic Art-Deco style proudly signifying “People Work Here”.
Powerhouse 2 was added to the river’s west side in 1974 – by contrast, utilitarian and unadorned. Low-quality “temporary” buildings were built on the upper plateau for construction support, eventually serving the full-time personnel performing general maintenance and operations for the growing hydroelectric complex. Little consideration was given to long-term operational requirements, or how to accommodate an expanding workforce in the decades to follow. The architecture during this period reflects an attitude of “People Work Here”.
Over the years, the challenges of maintaining aging and inadequate support structures became significant, borne by site-wide operational inefficiencies, safety concerns, and technological obsolescence. Resolving to reinvest in its system-wide assets, workforce and customer-owner benefits, the PUD focused on addressing the needs of its people to maintain and operate the power plants supported by facilities designed for optimum performance. Looking forward, the PUD saw both economic and cultural benefit in providing new facilities for mechanics, wiremen, warehouse & tool room personnel, utilities and administrative staff, inspectors, engineers, and project managers, all essential to fulfill the District’s stated values of Safety, Stewardship, Trustworthiness, and Operational Excellence. This new era is defined by an appreciation that: “People Work Here”.