PUD bids farewell to long-serving commissioners Congdon, Bolz

by Rachel Hansen | Dec 19, 2022

Friends and colleagues shared memories and fond farewells with two long-serving commissioners – Ann Congdon and Dennis Bolz – during their last board meeting Monday.

Commissioner Ann Condon was elected to the commission 18 years ago. She was encouraged to run by family friend Jean Ludwick, the first woman in the state elected as a PUD commissioner.

“When I became commissioner, it was clear that Chelan PUD needed to earn back trust with our customer-owners,” Congdon said. “As a board, one of the things we did right was hire the right general managers at the right time.”

One of the longest-serving commissioners in PUD history, Congdon helped hire five general managers including Rich Riazzi, Steve Wright and Kirk Hudson.

During her tenure, she worked alongside staff to reduce debt by nearly $1 billion and position the PUD as one of the most financially stable utilities in the nation. She was a major proponent of a supported employment program at the PUD, which helps people with cognitive disabilities to develop job skills. She also joined other commissioners to adopt the PUD’s vision of providing the best value for the most people for the longest time.

“Of everything we’ve done, I feel really good that we worked hard and gained the trust of the community over time,” she said. “My parting words to fellow commissioners is that we’ve got to do everything it takes to keep earning that trust. That means open communication, a lot of outreach, and staying engaged in conversations around the community.”

Commissioner Dennis Bolz championed many issues during his 16-year tenure on the board, including parks development, transparency, and fiscal responsibility. In 2019, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Public Utility Districts Association in recognition of his long-standing work on behalf of public power.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is the transition in culture that we helped facilitate at Chelan PUD,” Bolz said. “The five of us worked to create a tone at the commission level to model a healthier balance for how people treated each other, with respect and dignity.”

Bolz was also part of creating the Public Power Benefit program, which supports community-minded projects such as expanded access to fiber internet, parking passes at PUD-owned state parks, electric vehicle changing stations and more. His leadership has advanced several PUD strategic plans, including critical decisions on rate design and economic development, guided by input from thousands of local customers.

“The public is important,” Bolz said. “We had the courage to go forward because we took the time to hear what the public was thinking. It’s been a great experience.”

In other news, commissioners:

  • Heard an update on the safety recommendations from an investigation at Rock Island Dam in 2018. Most of the recommendations are complete, and three are in progress. (on the board audio at 00:13:30)
  • Approved resolutions to support 2023 hatchery operations, and monitoring and evaluation activities pursuant to the Habitat Conservation Plans for Rocky Reach and Rock Island hydroelectric projects. (00:28:30)
  • Approved a resolution to authorize the general manager to negotiate the acquisition of Peshastin Water District. (00:44:30)

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Media contacts

Rachel Hansen: (509) 661-4320
Neil Neroutsos: (509) 661-8291

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