Brian Skeahan, general manager of the Klickitat Public Utility District, has announced that he will soon be leaving the PUD.
Skeahan, who has served the PUD since late 1994, will be taking a similar position with the Cowlitz County Public Utility District in Longview. He will continue with the PUD in Goldendale until the end of June.
"Cowlitz is a larger utility, and is attractive to me both for professional and personal reasons," Skeahan said.
"It is with regret that I must inform you of my decision to resign my position as general manager of Klickitat PUD," wrote Skeahan in a letter of resignation he submitted on April 21. "It would be difficult for me to fully express my appreciation for the opportunity you provided me in hiring me to be your general manager over eight years ago. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made together in that time."
The PUD Board of Commissioners has already begin the process of seeking a replacement for Skeahan.
"I would expect they'll appoint an interim manager," Skeahan said. "I don't expect a permanent replacement until perhaps the fall."
In his resignation notice, Skeahan offered to "do anything possible to assist in the search for a replacement and the associated transition."
Skeahan pointed out that the PUD had undergone a "fundamental transition" since he took the manager's post.
"When I arrived, the PUD was a full requirements customer of BPA," he explained. "All we did was deliver the power that came from the BPA. Now we own two generating resources [McNary Dam and the methane gas facility at the Roosevelt landfill], and we sell power into and buy power out of the short-term market."
Skeahan also noted the upgrades to the PUD's infrastructure of power poles, substations, and other operating equipment.
"There has been a lot of investment," Skeahan said. "We've put more physical plant in the ground between 1995 and the present than between 1938 and 1995. Along with the value of the generating projects and the new E.E. Clouse Substation [south of Goldendale], that provides a significant increase in reliability."
Skeahan said he has appreciated his years with the Klickitat PUD.
"It has been an enjoyable job. It's a good board and a good staff," he said. "I'm proud of the things we've been able to get done."
According to Skeahan, there have been only five general managers at the Klickitat PUD since it was formed in 1938.
"All the others either died or retired," Skeahan joked. "I thought to myself, `I'd like to have another outcome.' I'm too young to die or retire."
Skeahan noted that there were tough times ahead in the power utility field.
"With the BPA increases and Goldendale Aluminum being down, there are clearly challenges ahead," he pointed out. "This has always been a tough job, and it's going to be a tough job. But people can take comfort in that the board and staff really do care, and are concerned about increased power costs in the context of the local economy. They'll work hard to do what they can to keep rates low."