PUD selects its new chief

The superintendent of Tacoma Power is expected to replace Ed Hansen as general manager of the Snohomish County PUD.

The PUD’s commissioners will officially offer the position today to Steve Klein, who has run Tacoma Power since 1993. A resolution offering Klein the position is on today’s meeting agenda.

During his tenure, Klein made Tacoma one of the first cities to build a publicly owned fiber coaxial cable system that offered broadband service and cable television.

Hansen, the PUD general manager for the past four years and a former two-term mayor of Everett, plans to retire June 30. He is expected to work with Klein until then.

Hansen, a lawyer and golf course developer who once served as chairman of the county Democratic Party, also is an accomplished amateur bowler. His $233,000 PUD salary makes him the county’s highest-paid public official.

Klein will take over that title. He’s been offered $243,277 to take the post.

Vaughn said the commission studied the pay for top power executives before setting that amount.

If Klein officially accepts the job, which is all but a formality, the PUD commission plans to approve his contract on April 4.

He’s set to start on April 10.

“The commission is extremely pleased to consider a candidate with such an extensive background in the electric utility industry,” commission president Kathleen Vaughn said. “We’re also very grateful to Ed Hansen for his exceptional leadership as general manager over the past four years.”

The commission has lauded Hansen for his ability to cut costs while improving staff morale. As Everett mayor, he received praise for improving the city’s finances and for his work in assuring construction of the Everett Events Center, which has started a turnaround for the community’s downtown area.

Klein, a Tacoma native, has been with Tacoma Power for 28 years and recently completed federal relicensing of the utility’s hydroelectric dams.

“Steve Klein has made Tacoma Power a leader in the utility industry, both regionally and nationally,” said Mark Crisson, director of Tacoma Public Utilities.

Tacoma Power has about half the customers of the PUD, but the utilities have many similarities; for instance, both are customers of the Bonneville Power Administration.

Vaughn said it was essential for the PUD to hire someone with experience with the BPA because the PUD is its largest customer.

“He was on a short list of about five names,” Vaughn said of Klein, adding that commissioners interviewed two candidates before selecting Klein.

Vaughn said Klein and Hansen have similar opinions on many topics.

“He’s filling big shoes, but he can fill them,” she said of Klein.

Herald writer Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459 or benbow@heraldnet.com.

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