PUD picks its assistant general manager to lead utility

EVERETT — Snohomish County Public Utility District commissioners Tuesday chose Assistant General Manager Craig Collar as the utility’s new general manager and chief executive officer.

The board of commissioners picked Collar over Interim General Manager Anne Spangler and 44 other applicants hoping to run the utility district, one of the country’s largest public utilities.

Collar said he wants to make sure the utility remains connected to the community and focused on delivering water and safe, reliable power that is affordable and responsibly generated.

“Our focus is on executing the projects we have in process now,” he said in an interview with The Daily Herald.

That list includes overhauling the district’s resource management system, developing energy storage systems and building two new hydroelectric facilities.

The three commissioners unanimously selected Collar, 51, during the commission’s Tuesday afternoon meeting.

They picked him, Commission President Kathy Vaughn said, for his performance since joining the district in November 2006 and his extensive management experience.

Because of procedural rules, the commission couldn’t actually offer him the job at Tuesday’s meeting. A resolution making a job offer was introduced. Commissioners plan to vote on it at their Aug. 25 meeting. Collar would start Sept. 1. The position pays $329,600. His predecessor, Steve Klein, was paid $366,826 a year.

The commission surveyed other similar positions to determine a fair salary, Vaughn said after the meeting.

The selection “sends a message to the organization that we plan to stay on the same track we’ve been on,” she said.

That direction includes meeting power load growth with conservation and renewable energy sources, and investing in the utility for the long term, she said. “Where does the utility need to be 20 years from now, 30 years from now?”

Vaughn said the board was also impressed with his leadership qualities and his technical background. Having training as an engineer was one of the board’s criteria.

Collar earned a bachelor of sciences degree in electrical engineering from Montana State University. After college, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an officer on a nuclear submarine during his service from 1983 to 1990.

Back on land, he joined the Kimberly-Clark Corp., which transferred him to its now-closed Everett mill in 1997, he said.

At Kimberly-Clark, he worked closely with the PUD, overseeing a cogeneration project that turned waste into energy, he said.

In late 2006, he left the company for the utility, where he began as a senior manager for the PUD’s energy resource development program. In that job, he oversaw some of those development projects, including tidal power.

In late 2012, he was promoted to assistant general manager of power, rates and transmission management. In that role, he managed the PUD’s rates, resource planning and development, power and transmission contracts, rates, energy risk management, and load forecasting.

He worked closely with Klein, who retired at the end of April after nine years as the PUD’s general manager and CEO.

The board picked the district’s general counsel, Spangler, as interim general manager, responsible for running the day-to-day operations while the commissioners consider Klein’s successor.

Forty-six people, including Spangler, applied for the position. Six were interviewed in person in July.

Collar said he hopes Spangler and the rest of PUD’s leadership stays on.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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