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Steve Wright named next Chelan PUD general manager

From the July 26, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 26, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
The Chelan PUD Commission on July 24 unanimously selected Steve Wright as the new general manager for the public utility district headquartered in Wenatchee, Wash. Wright joins the PUD after 32 years at the Bonneville Power Administration, the last 12 as the head of the federal power marketing agency. He retired from BPA at the end of January.

"The commission asked PUD customers and employees about the qualities they would want in the next general manager," said Carnan Bergren, president of the utility’s Board of Commissioners. "We listened carefully to their suggestions and are confident that we have selected a great individual to lead the PUD."

Wright will start his new job on Sept. 3, replacing John Janney. Photo source: BPA
The commission noted that, in a survey conducted in May, it received feedback about what customers and employees  would like to see in the next general manager. Some of the qualities mentioned were: openness; honesty; integrity; a public power background; electric industry experience; and financial background.

"We were fortunate to have a number of highly qualified candidates," said PUD Commissioner Ann Congdon. "I am excited Steve has been selected as our next general manager. He embodies the qualities we heard were important to our customers and our employees. His extensive background in public power will serve us well."

Wright "represents recognized leadership within the electric utility industry, and particularly within the Northwest public power arena," said Commissioner Dennis Bolz. "He will be an effective voice for Chelan PUD in the years ahead."

"It has been a long process," said Commissioner Norm Gutzwiler. "The commission listened carefully to customers and employees and we challenged ourselves to select the best person." By the end of the process, "we had three excellent candidates," he said. "It was a tough decision, but we know we have the right person."

"I concur with my fellow commissioners about the qualities Steve possesses," said Commissioner Randy Smith. "But even more important to me was the incredible humility he demonstrated, despite his incredible stature and numerous professional successes. This speaks well to how he will interact with the commission, our employees and the community at large."

"I’m thrilled to be a part of the beautiful Chelan County community," Wright said. "I am grateful that the Chelan County PUD Board has given me the opportunity to rejoin the public power world and to be a part of the incredible power of the Columbia River. I look forward to continuing to serve the public interest and to be a part of the great team at the PUD."

Wright began his professional career in 1981 in the energy conservation division of the Bonneville Power Administration. He held a number of positions at BPA, most recently as administrator. Wright graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in public administration.   He is married and has three children ages 20, 16 and 13.

He will start his new job on Sept. 3, replacing John Janney, who agreed to stay at Chelan PUD until Sept 15 for a period of transition. Wright will be the utility's 12th general manager since the PUD was formed in 1936.


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

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Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

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Laura D’Alessandro