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Public power honors Chelan PUD's Steve Wright for career dedicated to service and solutions

by Kimberlee Craig | Jun 09, 2020

Chelan PUD General Manager Steve Wright, a Northwest public power leader for nearly 40 years, received the Alan Richardson Statesmanship Award on Tuesday, June 9. The American Public Power Association (APPA) honor recognizes public power leaders who work to achieve consensus on national issues important to public power utilities.

“Steve is a strong advocate for public power, as well as a thoughtful and courageous leader willing to question conventional wisdom in search of long-term solutions that advance the public interest,” said Joy Ditto, APPA president and CEO.

The award came at APPA’s Public Power Connect: Virtual Summit and Business Meeting, hosted from Washington, D.C.  

Wright is recognized as one of our country’s experts within the energy industry and public power. During a career spanning four decades, Wright has shown his commitment to collaboration and public engagement as he has led critical discussions about public power and policy decisions.

“Steve is laser focused in his pursuit of solutions to critical challenges facing public power,” said Chelan PUD Board President Garry Arseneault. “He is a master at bringing opposing views together to achieve consensus and has solidly established himself as an industry leader and an advocate for protection and advancement of customer-owned power.”  

Wright became Chelan PUD general manager in 2013. He previously worked for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for 32 years, the final 12 years as administrator/chief executive officer (second longest on record). BPA provides about one-third of the electricity and 70 percent of the transmission in the Pacific Northwest.

“Steve has been a leader on public power issues for decades,” said former U.S Representative Norm Dicks from the state’s 6th District. “When I served on the House Appropriations Committee, I worked with Steve during the time he was Administrator of BPA.  Steve was a brilliant administrator and always advocated for public power.” 

Wright has worked with many industry associations during his career including the last 12 years with APPA.  He has strongly advocated for the advancement of APPA positions on key topics, including hydropower relicensing, energy efficiency and climate change. Working closely with the Northwest congressional delegation and a broad collection of regional stakeholders, Wright also has cultivated a unified voice in the Northwest for ongoing Columbia River Treaty negotiations.

At Chelan PUD, he has led the development of two 5-year strategic plans, which engaged thousands of customer-owners, employees and businesses in an open dialogue to build consensus around public power issues.

Wright holds leadership positions on multiple boards, including the American Public Power Association and the Alliance to Save Energy. He also served on the Steering Committee of the Large Public Power Council, and he was Chair of the Public Generating Pool.

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