Utility hopefuls interview for seat

Three candidates remain for Clallam PUD position

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners will hold an executive session on Monday prior to their regular meeting to continue their discussion regarding the three potential replacements for the late Commissioner Jim Waddell.

“All three applicants bring interesting and some unique qualities to the position,” PUD Commissioner Ken Hays said during Tuesday’s candidate interviews. “I would like to ponder it and hold another executive session at our next meeting,”

The three candidates, all from Port Angeles, are Phyllis E. Bernard, Kenneth P. Reandeau and Kenneth Simpson. A fourth candidate, Gary R. Smith of Port Angeles, withdrew his application.

Monday’s hybrid meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. in public board meeting room at PUD headquarters, 104 Hooker Road in Carlsborg. The meeting is available online at https://clallampud-net.zoom.us/j/84721624204?pwd=Q0pCaVRLWXFqeWpONVFYaFM0UFB2UT09. Enter the Meeting ID 847 2162 4204 and Passcode 718170.

Waddell, 70, died Feb. 5 of pancreatic cancer. He had served as board president in 2023 and 2024 and represented the PUD’s District 3 since 2019.

State law gives the two remaining commissioners 90 days to appoint a replacement for the remainder of the unexpired term, which runs until the certification of this November’s general election.

Clallam PUD General Manager Sean Worthington said a May 1 start date would be ideal.

Candidates

Bernard earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in American history from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

She served on the board of directors of Southwest Power Pool Inc. of Little Rock, Ark., a nonprofit regional transmission organization, from 2003-2019. She also served as a commissioner for the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission and has served as a commissioner-at-large for Olympic Medical Center since July 2023.

Bernard said the move to electrification, including electric vehicles, could fall disproportionately on lower income people, which would not be fair.

“When we’re talking about green energy, it has to be green for environment but also for the wallet,” she said. “And I would include electric vehicles. They are too expensive. My husband and I are on Social Security so we are better off than the West End.”

Regarding the proposed removal of the four Lower Snake River dams and the recent memorandum of understanding between the federal government and Northwest tribes and states, Bernard said the “intense” conversations need to be toned down.

“I read the 19 pages. Let’s stop beating up on each other and take a breath. At least that is how I read it. What I want to see is the innovation to make the dams more user friendly to the fish.

“There’s ways of doing that. We need to make sure the information we are using is the current information,” she said.

Reandeau graduated from Port Angles High School in 1970 and studied automotive technology at Peninsula College for a year. He worked in various roles at Crown Zellerbach and its successors, including lead operator and elected officer of his union local, from July 1971 to October 2006, when he retired.

He said the state’s goal of requiring electric utilities serving at least 25,000 retail customers to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 is too far in the future.

“I think 2050 is too slow. I’ve been advocating for the transition to electric vehicles for five years. I’ve been advocating here and at the county to make that transition. I’ve been advocating electrification of all kinds of (equipment).

“This equipment is becoming available. There’s four chargers installed at the county courthouse, but they aren’t being used and I can’t get an answer why,” Reandeau said.

Regarding the Snake River dams, Reandeau said they should be removed for the sake of the river’s fish and that the power could be replaced.

“I just think they should be gone, quite honestly. They have decimated various fish species, not just salmon. Now that I understand that, I’m trying to atone for it.

“We found the energy to replace the Elwha Dam. We will find the energy to replace these dams. I don’t think they will be viable for too much longer,” he said.

Simpson earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations/business from Washington State University and graduated from Puget Sound Electrical (Joint Apprentice Training Committee) school. He worked as an apprentice electrician at Power City Electric in Spokane from 1992-1993 and as an apprentice electrician at Angeles Electric from 1990-1995.

He has worked as a journeyman electrician at Angeles Electric since 1995, an estimator since 1996 and president since 2012. He is the son of former Clallam PUD commissioner Ted Simpson.

Simpson said it will be interesting to see how electric vehicles play out. Eventually, there will be enough electric vehicles and chargers that everyone will want to use them, but there are issues with them that need to be addressed, he said.

Simpson said the 19-page memorandum of understanding regarding the Lower Snake River dams was “a fun read” and he appreciated that it noted the need to replace the energy supplied by the four dams.

“The meat of it indicated that the president directed everyone to consult with the tribes about how to restore the fish runs. It was good to include a requirement for a clean and efficient energy supply to the region. Where we get that power and at what cost? I’m glad they included it,” he said.

A Clallam PUD commissioner earns a monthly salary of $3,238, plus a per diem of $161 for meetings attended on the district’s behalf, to a maximum annual compensation of $61,396. Commissioners also are eligible for group insurance for themselves, their immediate family and dependents.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsulanews.us.

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