Public Power Announcements

NWPPA Launches New Communities Platform

At NWPPA, we are proud to connect you—as utility professionals—at conferences and classes, through our publications, and on our website. When utilities collaborate, we are better able to accomplish the mission of public power, which is to serve our communities. That is why NWPPA is publicly launching a new online platform where members can engage with one another and the Association. NWPPA Communities is a forum for members to connect with peers to share strategic advice, solve challenges together, and develop new approaches.

With Communities, you are able to cultivate a personalized network of professional connections and participate in discussion groups most relevant to your role.

Current communities include the:

  • Administrative Professionals Group
  • Customer Service Group
  • Environmental Task Force
  • Federal Funding Opportunities Community
  • Information Technology Group
  • Montana Engineering Group
  • Oregon Utility Records Group
  • Staking Community
  • Supply Chain Forum
  • Washington Utility Records Group

More communities—such as a Communications one—will be added as we continue to roll out this new feature, so stay tuned!

Access NWPPA Communities at Join—and invite—your utility peers today! Questions? Contact

Mitchell Presented with NoaNet’s Ernie Bolz Memoriam Award

(May 13) At this month’s meeting of the Northwest Open Access Network Board of Directors, the board passed Resolution 0206, announcing former Clallam County PUD (Carlsborg, Wash.) manager Fred Mitchell as this year’s recipient of the Ernie Bolz Memoriam Award.

Mitchell served as Clallam County PUD’s power supply and utility services manager, retiring in 2017 after nearly 40 years with the PUD. Mitchell was instrumental in advancing the PUD’s broadband program. Today, Clallam PUD has a thriving wholesale telecommunications network providing open broadband access between Port Angeles and Sequim in Washington.

This award was established in tribute to Ernie Bolz, former PUD commissioner at Okanogan PUD and dedicated rural broadband advocate, who passed away in May 2021. Bolz’s reputation as a “soft-spoken visionary” has had a lasting impact on the success of NoaNet and the success of the employees and the board itself. The NoaNet board voted last year to remember that legacy by creating this memorial award.

The Ernie Bolz Memoriam Award is given annually to recognize extraordinary contributions and selfless dedication to the mission of enhancing telecommunications services for Washington state.

Columbia REA Announces Election Results

(May 16) Columbia REA (Walla, Wall, Wash.) announced the results of its 2022 board of directors election. The newly re-elected board members are Patrick Dennis (District 1), Dennis Munden (District 2), and Jay DeWitt (District 3). All three winners were running as incumbents and were elected by a vote of Columbia REA members, who chose from a total of seven candidates vying for the three positions.

As a result of the election, the full board roster will remain unchanged, as will the 2022 board officer positions, which are Neil Carpenter as president, Doug Logan as vice president, and DeWitt as secretary/treasurer.

Columbia REA’s 2022-23 board of directors also consists of Katie Wooldridge (District 3); Vic Parks (District 2); and Greg Knowles and Glen Shipley (District 1).

At Columbia REA’s Annual Meeting on April 21, the REA also announced the recipients of the 2022 Clark A. Brewington academic scholarships. The utility received eight applications from highly qualified high school seniors in its service area that were evaluated by an anonymous volunteer committee. The value of each scholarship was increased this year, and all three recipients will receive $3,000 per academic year toward tuition for their continuing education, and each scholarship is renewable for up to four years. This year’s recipients are Hadley Beechinor (DeSales High School/University of Idaho); Cherish Fesler (College Place High School/Washington State University); and Brayden Mohney (Waitsburg High School/Walla Walla Community College).

OPALCO to Host EV Jamboree

(May 16) The Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (Eastsound, Wash.) EV Jamboree is coming to the San Juan County Fairgrounds this June. Attendees will celebrate and explore electric vehicles of all types. There will be new EVs to test drive, electric bikes and scooters to ride around the Fairgrounds, electric tools to try out, and lots of information to share.

OPALCO members with their own EVs are encouraged to bring them for show and tell—there will be VIP parking and special swag for EV drivers. OPALCO staff will have free hot dogs (and veggie dogs) on the BBQ, lots of cool Island Way swag, and fun activities for the whole family! The event is free and will be open 3-6 p.m.

Electric vehicles are in high demand and short supply throughout the nation. The OPALCO team has reached out to dealerships throughout the region, including Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Rivian, Mercedes, Audi, and BMW. The cooperative extended thanks to the dealerships working with it to get cars to the event. Although it’s hard to know what dealerships will have on the lot June 8, it’s likely the EV Jamboree will feature the Volkwagen ID.4, Kia EV6, and Mustang MachE. The cooperative also hopes to get an all-electric Ford F150, which is now available, but in short supply.

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Lewis County PUD to Host Kids’ Fishing Derby

(May 16) Lewis County PUD (Chehalis, Wash.) announced the 2022 Kids’ Fishing Derby will take place Saturday, June 11. Youth ages 14 and younger can enjoy a morning of fishing at Cowlitz Falls Day Use Park. The derby is held annually in recognition of National Fishing Week and is hosted by Lewis County PUD and the U.S. Forest Service Randle Ranger District. In 2021, more than 55 kids participated in the derby.

Big Flat Electric Co-op Announces 2022 Scholarship Winners

(May 12) Big Flat Electric Cooperative announced and congratulated the 2022 scholarship winners. Cord Schneider, student at Montana State University Northern, and Kaden LaBrie, a Malta High School graduate, are the recipients of Big Flat’s Trade School Scholarship. Recipients of Big Flat’s $500 scholarships are Daeson Salveson, Saco High School graduate; Hannah Hanley, Whitewater High School graduate; Laci Maloney, Turner High School graduate; and Kaden LaBrie, Malta High School graduate.

SEL President Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree from Purdue University

(L-R) Purdue President and former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels and Edmund O. Schweitzer, III before the 2022 graduation ceremony for Purdue’s College of Engineering.

(May 16) Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, the founder, president, and chief technology officer of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, received an honorary doctorate of engineering from Purdue University’s College of Engineering during the commencement ceremony held May 13.

The university recognized Schweitzer as a pioneer in digital power protection and for his many other career achievements, including being a recipient of the IEEE Medal in Power Engineering and 2019 induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“Your legacy is inspiring generations of people…(and) all of us here, to turn every single one of the brilliant minds that enter our school into brilliant, effective, and outstanding engineers,” said Dimitrios Peroulis, Michael and Katherine Birck head of electrical and computer engineering, during a luncheon honoring Schweitzer.

Schweitzer earned both his bachelor’s (1968) and master’s (1971) degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue and credits his alma mater with preparing him to take his interest in electric power and start his own company. Today, Schweitzer has been granted more than 250 patents and SEL products are helping protect, monitor, and control electric power systems in 168 countries.

“I’m grateful for the recognition, but I’m even more grateful for the work you all do at Purdue to educate and inspire young people to go out and work to make the world a better place—the same way you did for me,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer has maintained his connections with the university through research collaborations, support for its educational initiatives, and partnerships with the Purdue College of Engineering.

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Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories invents, designs, and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world. For more information, visit