Public Power Magazine

APPA Awards

From the June 2013 issue (Vol. 71, No. 4) of Public Power

Originally published June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013


APPA’s Alex Radin Distinguished Service Award is the highest award granted by the association. It recognizes exceptional leadership and dedication to public power.

Lonnie Carter is the 2013 recipient of the Radin award. Carter is president and CEO of Santee Cooper, the state power authority in South Carolina. In 2010-2011, he was chairman of the board of the American Public Power Association.

Carter has spent his entire career at Santee Cooper.  He joined the utility as an analyst in 1982, immediately after he graduated from The Citadel.  As measured by energy generated, Santee Cooper is the largest public power utility in the nation.  It is the third largest in megawatt-hour sales. Yet Santee Cooper is led by a president who understands the vital importance of electricity to the daily lives of everyone and the importance of keeping the cost of electricity as low as possible.  Carter has spent his career working to keep electricity affordable for the people of South Carolina and the nation.

Carter has been CEO of Santee Cooper since 2004.  In 1997, he was loaned by Santee Cooper to the then-fledgling Energy Authority, a new power supply and risk management agency launched by Santee Cooper and two other utilities. He spent a year in Florida, away from his family, to move the new agency from start-up to operation.  Today, The Energy Authority works with 45 public power utilities to provide energy trading, risk management and power supply services.

An accountant by training, Carter relies on his understanding of numbers to demonstrate his confidence in the value of public power. When political forces in South Carolina led to calls to convert the utility from a publicly owned entity to a profit-making company, he performed the analyses that demonstrated the unquestionable value of public ownership to the citizens of South Carolina.

Carter has been one of the most important leaders in public power over the last two decades. 

The James D. Donovan Individual Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made significant individual contributions to the electric utility industry and to public power. There are three winners in 2013.

David R. Walters is general manager and CEO of Michigan Public Power Agency.  He is a 23-year veteran of public power in Michigan.  He worked for 20 years as manager of the Zeeland Board of Public Works and for the past three years he has been general manager and CEO of Michigan Public Power Agency.  He was instrumental in forming the Michigan Public Power Agency Power Pool Project and in gaining and maintaining transmission rights for public power utilities in Michigan. He has been a strong advocate for public power utilities in legislative activities and has been active in many industry organizations. He has been active on many APPA committees and is a former member of the APPA board of directors and Executive Committee.

John DiStasio is general manager and CEO of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California. He has worked at SMUD since 1981, first in supply chain services, later in distribution services, and for eight years as assistant general manager of energy delivery and customer services.  He is active in many local, state, regional, national and international industry organizations, including the APPA board of directors and Executive Committee and the CEO Climate Change & Generation Task Force.  He is a native of California and a fourth generation farmer.  He owns DiStasio Vineyards, a commercial winery in Amador County, Calif. 

Sharon A. Staz is general manager and treasurer of the Kennebunk Light and Power District in Maine.  She has managed the utility in Kennebunk since 1998.  Earlier, she was manager of the Princeton Municipal Light Department in Massachusetts.  She was a member of APPA’s Task Force on the 21st Century and she is a former member of the APPA Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She also is a former chair of APPA’s Membership Committee. In 2010, she represented APPA on a fact-finding mission to Japan to visit solar power installations.  She is secretary and legislative liaison for DIRIGO the consumer-owned utility association in Maine.  In 2006, she served on the Governor’s Renewable Energy Task Force and the Governor’s Maine Energy Council.

The Harold Kramer-John Preston Personal Service Award recognizes individuals for their service to the American Public Power Association. There are three winners of this award for 2013.


Brent McKinney is manager of electric transmission and distribution for City Utilities of Springfield, Mo.  He is chairman of the Review Committee for APPA’s Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) program. He is also APPA’s representative on the National Electric Safety Code “Subcommittee 8,” where he has shared his expertise on arc flash analysis. He is a former member of the board of the APPA’s research program – DEED –(Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments) and has chaired APPA’s Engineering & Operations Section as well as committees within the E&O Section.

Lynne Tejeda is general manager and CEO of Keys Energy Services in Key West, Florida. When you live in Key West, getting out of town is not always easy or desirable.  But Tejeda has been a longtime advocate of “making it happen,” not “letting it happen.” She is a longtime, active participant in APPA’s  Legislative Rally and encourages her board members to do the same.  She has cultivated strong relationships with Key West’s representatives in the U.S. Congress and the Florida state Legislature.  She has been active in APPA activities for two decades. She is currently a member of the APPA board of directors.

Brad Spooner is manager of environmental affairs for MEAG Power in Georgia.  For the last 11 years, he has been intimately involved in APPA’s advocacy efforts before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget.  He has been chairman for the last eight years of APPA’s Environmental and Air Quality Task Force and has been a technical adviser to APPA’s CEO Task Force on Climate Change & Generation. He’s been a vital contributor to APPA’s environmental policy advocacy efforts and has assisted in the preparation of 90 sets of comments on industry rules and regulations through his work with APPA.

The Alan Richardson Statesmanship Award honors public power leaders who work on behalf of APPA members to achieve consensus on national issues that are important to public power utilities.

Jorge Carrasco is the 2013 winner of the Alan Richardson Statesmanship Award.  He is general manager and CEO of Seattle City Light in Washington.  He is active in a wide variety of industry and related organizations, including the Electric Power Research Institute, International City/County Management Association, the American Water Works Association and the Nature Conservancy.  As a member of APPA’s CEO Task Force on Climate Change and Generation, he has been very effective in finding common ground on controversial issues.  He is a past chair of the Large Public Power Council. In that capacity, he worked to assure a collaborative, harmonious relationship between APPA and LPPC.  He is a former city manager of Austin, Texas, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Spence Vanderlinden Public Official Award recognizes elected or appointed local officials who have contributed to the American Public Power Association. There are three winners for 2013.

Bill Conrad is mayor of Newberry, Fla. He has a remarkable skill for connecting with citizens of Newberry and with policymakers at all levels of government.  As the chief elected official in Newberry, he led efforts to transform the small city into a sports-tourism destination. Thanks to his work, Newberry today is home to the Easton Newberry Archery Center, which opened in 2009, and the National Baseball Facility, which opened in 2012 and is the largest baseball complex in the United States. The two facilities are projected to generate millions of dollars every year for the local economy. Mayor Conrad is a 28-year veteran of the United States Air Force and worked as a navigator flying C-130 planes in Southeast Asia, Antarctica, Panama and Europe. He also served in Iraq and Somalia.  He retired from the Air Force in 2000 as a lieutenant colonel.

Paul Fisk is mayor of Lodi, Wis.  Over the past year, he has been a tireless and effective leader in advocacy efforts to preserve tax-exempt financing. He wrote letters on the issue to the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation. He secured adoption of resolutions supporting municipal bond financing by the Lodi City Council, the Lodi School Board and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. Mayor Fisk has been an active member of the APPA Policy Makers Council and with that group has met with senior officials of the Obama administration and members of Congress to illustrate the damage to local governments if Congress imposes a tax on interest earned on municipal bonds. 

Dennis J. Walstra is mayor of Sioux Center, Iowa.  For the past decade, he has been a reliable and consistent supporter of public power legislative issues through his work on the APPA Policy Makers Council. This year he is chairman of the Policy Makers Council and sits on the APPA board of directors. He is an articulate and effective spokesman on important issues, especially management of the federal power marketing agencies and environmental regulation of coal-burning power plants. In 2011, he served on the National League of Cities Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. He is also active in the Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce and is a former chairman of the Northwest Iowa League of Cities.

The Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award recognizes managers of small utilities serving fewer than 2,500 meters.

These managers run utilities with a very small staff and must assume multiple roles in the management of the utility.  The seven areas of expertise they must handle include:

  • Planning and design
  • Administration
  • Public relations
  • Field supervision
  • Accounting
  • Human resources
  • Community leadership

The 2013 Seven Hats Award winners are:

Robert Anderson, light commissioner for the Cozad Board of Public Works in Nebraska. He has worked for the city for 30 years, most of those as a utility field worker. As commissioner of the 2,000-customer utility, he is recognized for his leadership in maintaining a highly reliable electric system, for his skillful handling of customer relations and for his active involvement in civic organizations.

Hal Becker is general manager of Delano Municipal Utilities in Minnesota. He is a master electrician who has led his utility in a major infrastructure project that this year will result in a completely underground distribution system with upgraded voltage.  He is recognized as the public face of Delano Municipal Utilities and he has successfully put to rest three attempts to sell the city-owned utility by demonstrating that a locally owned and operated utility is a high-quality, valuable asset that should be preserved.

Allen Coyne is town manager of Julesburg, Colo. He leads a staff of 11 who manage not only the electric utility, but also water, sewer and sanitation systems.  The electric utility serves 825 customers. He is recognized for handling emergency field calls on his own on weekends and holidays, so his staff can have time off.  He is committed to staff training and makes sure his employees are trained and cross-trained. He provides timely, concise reports to his seven-member board of trustees.  He is a retired volunteer fireman and a leader in the Julesberg Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Gladden is village administrator in Genoa, Ohio.  He recently oversaw a $5 million upgrade to the Genoa electric system. He is working with American Municipal Power to bring long-term stability to the village’s power supply portfolio. He works with local school children to promote safety and has a reputation of accessibility with local news media. He oversees water, sewer, electric and roads for the village and is well known in town as the “Voice of the Genoa Comets,” the local high school football team.

Chuck Tibbetts is director of utilities in Aitkin, Minn. He has worked for the city-owned utility since 1968. He started as a groundman and later worked as a lineworker and line foreman.  He was named director of utilities in 1998.  As head of utilities, he oversaw a complete rebuild of the Aitkin electric distribution system. He and his staff did all the planning and design in-house. As a manager, Tibbetts maintains a very collaborative relationship with his employees. He has advocated for competitive salaries so the utility can hire and keep talented people in key positions.  He has been active in Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association and is a former volunteer fire fighter in Aitkin.

Jim Gibney is general manager of Wahoo Utilities in Nebraska. He is an electrical engineer and has planned the installation over five years of a comprehensive load management system. Load control devices are installed on every residential air conditioner in Wahoo, which reduces the city’s peak electric use and lowers rates.  He is active in local economic development and was instrumental in planning and design of utilities that attracted an ethanol plant to the city. He encourages his employees to attain appropriate certifications and to keep current with continuing education. He is recognized as a driving force behind the scenes in many community achievements.

Jim Mardis is town manager in Pittsboro, Ind. He manages electric, gas, water, wastewater and stormwater utilities for the town. He is recognized for strong fiscal and public relations management, as he has navigated the delicate balance between low rates and the need to invest in the town’s infrastructure. He is on the executive committee of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, where he pushed for the agency’s engineering subsidiary to begin offering line services for its member utilities. Mardis has been tapped by colleagues to appear before the state Ways and Means Committee to address highway funding needs. He is active in local economic development efforts.

Pat Davison is public works director for the city of Imperial, Neb. He began his career with the city in 1994 as an electric lineman and quickly rose to become a crew leader.  Eight years ago, he was named public works director. He oversees 20 employees in seven city departments, including the Imperial Public Power District. He is the “face of Imperial” and local citizens know they can seek his assistance anytime and anyplace—at the grocery store, when he’s in his backyard or at his grandchildren’s school events or even by calling his mobile phone. He is active in the League of Nebraska Municipalities and the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

The Robert E. Roundtree Rising Star Award is a scholarship presented to individuals who have been identified as future leaders in public power and who have demonstrated dedication to the goals and principles of public power.

There are three winners this year. These three individuals will each receive a stipend to enable them to travel to an APPA Academy training program or conference to advance their development and education in the public power industry.


Dan Hodges is executive director of the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities. He is active in APPA activities, including the Advisory Committee and the CEO Climate Change and Generation Policy Task Force.  He is chairman of PowerPAC, public power’s political action committee. He has distinguished himself as a successful advocate of policy issues in the state Legislature and before Congress. Last year, CAMU’s advocacy efforts, under Hodge’s leadership, preserved local control for regulation of alternative fuel vehicles and for interconnection of distributed generation.

Ed Krieger is director of Piqua Power System in Ohio.  He has distinguished himself as a utility manager who is committed to low rates and high reliability.  Piqua has been recognized since 2006 as a Reliable Public Power Provider. The city and the utility have the highest credit score among larger public power utilities in Ohio. Last year, Piqua Power System, under Krieger’s leadership, completed construction of a new $6 million service center.  The project was financed with cash reserves, leaving the utility debt-free.

Chip Merriam is chief legislative and regulatory compliance officer for Orlando Utilities Commission in Florida. He joined OUC in November 2009 and in the last few years has distinguished himself as a well-informed and effective advocate for public power policies. He has testified about air pollution regulations on behalf of public power before the House Science and Technology Committee and before the White House Office of Management and Budget.

APPA’s E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award honors member utilities with outstanding achievements.

Kirkwood Electric Department in Missouri is the 2013 winner of the Scattergood award.

In the five-year period from 2007 to 2012, Kirkwood Electric achieved a dramatic financial turnaround by restructuring its wholesale purchase power portfolio strategy to shield itself from rising prices.  The utility terminated its full-requirements contracts and began using block power purchase and market purchases.  The new strategy eliminated the utility’s need to use reserve funds to stabilize utility operations, and allowed it to rebuild reserves.  The utility’s improved finance picture led to a capital improvement program that included upgrades to two substations and portions of the distribution network.  Kirkwood Electric achieved this while keeping its rates among the lowest in the country.

The utility also implemented mobile access to its GIS circuit maps and SCADA system.  And, during the turnaround period, it earned the Reliable Public Power Provider designation.

The Community Service Award recognizes APPA member utilities for their “good neighbor” activities that demonstrate the commitment of the utility and its employees to the local community. 

Four utilities are receiving this award in 2013.

City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., has a comprehensive, long-term commitment to the local community. Every year, the utility contributes more than $12 million to the city treasury to support programs that would otherwise be paid by taxes. The utility also provides $14 million worth of free services to the city.  Employees of City Utilities contribute an average of $200,000 a year to the local United Way of the Ozarks. For 21 years, City Utilities has hosted a 5k “Fun Run and Mutt Strutt” to raise money for “The Kitchen, Inc.,” a nonprofit organization that provides services for low-income and homeless people. The utility’s Community Partnership Committee supports fundraising efforts selected by utility employees.  In recent years, committee-backed fundraising has contributed to “Ozarks Honor Flight,” a program to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. City Utilities employees also donated to relief efforts for residents of Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado in 2011.

Fayetteville Public Works Commission in North Carolina supports more than 400 community events and programs every year. Examples include the utility’s partnership with United Way of Cumberland County to launch a free 24-hour, multi-lingual telephone referral service to more than 600 health and human service programs. The utility donated $20,000 and worked with children at more than 60 schools to teach students personal responsibility for the earth and help schools evaluate every aspect of their environmental impact.  Fayetteville PWC’s activities include many programs to support military personnel based at Fort Bragg, including career transition assistance and public tributes to U.S. soldiers.

Holland Board of Public Works in Michigan supports dozens of ongoing community service projects, many of them aimed at heightening citizen awareness of their energy use. The utility’s contributes to local economic development through direct grants, a high school internship program and through Leadership Holland.  Community Enrichment activities include support for “Holland in Bloom,” “Tulip Time,” and “National Night Out.” Home monitoring kits donated to a local library have been very popular with people who want to learn how much electricity each home appliance uses. Holland Public Works partners with other utilities to recycle old inefficient air conditioners.

Hopkinsville Electric System in Kentucky is committed to community service like no other organization in its region. Every year since 2006, every single one of the utility’s 40 employees have contributed to the United Way  “Care Share” project, in which an individual pledges one hour of pay per month for 12 months.  Seeing the generosity of its employees, the Hopkinsville Electric Board approved a corporate pledge of $3,500 to Care Share, bringing the utility’s total contribution in 2012 to more than $25,000. Since 2006, Hopkinsville Electric employees have contributed more than $130,000 to Care Share. 

APPA’s research program, Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments, was established in 1980 to foster research, development and demonstration of new energy technologies at public power utilities.  Each year, he DEED program recognizes innovative projects with its Energy Innovator Awards.  This year, DEED is honoring three utilities with an Energy Innovator Award.

Riverside Public Utilities in California is a 2013 Energy Innovator in recognition of its “In-Pipe Hydroelectric System” project.  The utility partnered with Lucid Energy Technologies of Portland, Ore., and Northwest Pipe Company of Vancouver, Wash., to test a small generator that can be installed in a water distribution pipe.  RPU tested the equipment in a 30-foot section of a 60-inch water main pipeline. The generator relies on water flowing through the pipes to produce electricity. A test unit on Riverside’s water system produced 20 kilowatts of electricity.  Based on the tests, Riverside Public Utilities believes the in-pipe hydroelectric system has potential to provide meaningful energy and dollar savings.  The utility is considering further investment in the technology.

The city of Ocala, Fla., is a 2013 Energy Innovator in recognition of its “Pay As You Go” prepaid metering program. The program allows customers to avoid the need for large deposits when initiating electric service.  Turn-on and turn-off of electric service is handled remotely, within a few minutes. Ocala implemented the program in the fall of 2011.  One-hundred forty-nine customers enrolled in the first two weeks. After a year, more than 3,000 customers had enrolled and this year nearly, 3,700 customers are taking advantage of the program. With pre-paid metering, customers with an outstanding balance due to the utility can repay that debt in small increments and receive electric service. One customer said the program made it possible for her to move to a new apartment. Customers enrolled in the program can monitor their electricity usage online and see how they might be wasting energy.

Columbia Water & Light in Missouri is a 2013 Energy Innovator in recognition of its successful deployment of the Department of Energy’s “Home Performance with Energy Star” program. More than 2,000 of the utility’s residential customers are enrolled in the program. Energy savings have averaged 23 percent since the program began in 2008. A Columbia Water & Light staff person is qualified to train and certify local contractors. Without this, contractors would have to go out of town for training. Columbia Water & Light has partnered with neighboring Boone Electric Cooperative to offer the program on a regional basis, making it more attractive for contractors and allowing the two utilities to share marketing and administration responsibilities. The program has saved $2 million in power costs over the last two years. Participating customers have given the program a 99 percent positive rating. One customer said on a survey:  “I love the Water and Light Department.  I think you are very professional and hard-working.”

The Public Power Wind Award is a joint recognition of APPA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Power America Initiative. There are two winners in 2013.

Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington obtains nearly 8 percent of its energy from wind power project.  The PUD participates in regional forums to promote better integration of wind into the Northwest power grid.  It is also part of a group of utilities participating with Bonneville Power Administration in a pilot test of intra-hour scheduling of wind generation.  The PUD has two micro-wind demonstration projects.  Snohomish PUD also offers standardized contracts and pricing for customers who are interested in distributed generation.

 Southern California Public Power Authority has five wind energy projects with aggregate installed capacity of more than 710 megawatts.  SCPPA has employed innovative financing mechanisms to support its investments in wind energy.  The agency prepays for the purchase of the energy portion of the wind project output for 20 years and finances the prepayment with tax-exempt bonds. This approach resolves issues created by a lack of federal wind energy incentives for public entities. SCPPA acquired 50 megawatts of wind energy in Washington state using Build America Bonds.

Twenty-two individuals have completed the APPA Academy’s Public Power Manager Certificate Program.  To earn this certification, participants must complete three required courses and then a plan that identifies and addresses an issue, challenge or opportunity within his or her organization. The 2013 graduates of the Public Power Manager Certificate program are:

Brett Benedict, Director of Financial Services, Electrical District No. 3 of Pinal County, Maricopa, Ariz.

Lavone Brady, District Manager, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Fort Defiance, Ariz.

John Crooks, Utilities Director, Shakopee Public Utilities Commission, Minn.

Wesley Gray, Chief Operations Officer, Grays Harbor Public Utility District, Aberdeen, Wash.

Brian Johnson, Resource Analyst, Emerald People's Utility District, Eugene, Ore.

Daniel Lippert, Senior Electrical Engineer, Burbank Water and Power, Calif.

Rob Mayes, City Manager, City of Farmington. Farmington, New Mexico

Danette Scudder, Member Services Manager, Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Kenneth Stone, Energy Services & Accounting Manager, Braintree Electric Light Department, Mass.

Roger Warehime, Manager, Energy Management and External Relations, Owatonna Public Utilities, Minn.

Ryan Williams, Assistant Director, Columbia Water and Light Department, Mo.

Nine of the 2013 Public Power Manager Certificate graduates are from one utility -- Missouri River Energy Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are:

Denise Amundson, Senior Accountant

Deborah Birgen, Manager of State Legislative Relations

Kurt Hauser, Technical Coordinator

Joni Livingston, Energy Services Manager

Brent Moeller, Manager of Generation Resources

Jan Schmitz, Manager of Investment and Credit

Rob Scott-Hovland, Energy Services Field Coordinator

Mrg Simon, Legal Director

Gerald Tielke Manager of Operations

Karen Weeden, Senior Rate Analyst

Terry Wolf, Transmission Services Manager

Check Public Power TV for a special video presentation of the 2013 APPA Awards.


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