PUD’s new permanent GM outlines priorities for future

Sees himself retiring in role no sooner than 5 years from now

Posted 5/29/19

The new General Manager of Jefferson County’s Public Utility District is sort of the same as the old one.

After five months as interim general manager and four months as acting general manager, with a month-long retirement in between, Kevin Streett officially became the permanent general manager of the Jefferson County Public Utility District May 21.

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PUD’s new permanent GM outlines priorities for future

Sees himself retiring in role no sooner than 5 years from now

Posted

The new General Manager of Jefferson County’s Public Utility District is sort of the same as the old one.

After five months as interim general manager and four months as acting general manager, with a month-long retirement in between, Kevin Streett officially became the permanent general manager of the Jefferson County Public Utility District May 21.

When asked how permanent his tenure as permanent general manager would be, Streett thanked the PUD commissioners for their vote of confidence, and predicted he would serve as long as the commissioners wanted.

“I hope to retire here,” Streett said. “I’d like to be in the job at least another five to 10 years before that happens. My wife and I enjoy living here and being a part of this community.”

In the meantime, Streett identified his first two priorities as filling the PUD’s vacant staff positions and further expanding its outreach and partnerships with the surrounding community.

“Filling the vacancies will be challenging,” Streett said. “We have had trouble finding someone to fill our top financial position for a while now.”

Streett suggested that some positions, such as Chief Financial Officer, might require restructuring in order to draw qualified applicants.

The PUD also has two journeyman lineman positions open, but Streett sees this as symptomatic of the state of public utilities as a whole in the Pacific Northwest, due to the relatively high wages being offered in California.

“Journeyman linemen are in short supply for every utility in our region now,” Streett said. “Most of our neighboring utilities are also advertising. No public utility can compete with what they make down there.”

Streett is exploring apprenticeship options that “may help us grow people into the position,” and looks forward to working with the board on this.

As far as community outreach, Streett pointed out how the PUD is providing electrical safety training and education to local first responders, and intends to do the same with the county’s school districts in the fall.

“We’re working more with the county on a number of water- and sewer-related issues,” Streett said. “We have a great relationship with the city of Port Townsend, and we have more work to do there, taking down the wire and poles this coming winter. The PUD needs to be a leader in the community.”

Looking further ahead, Streett aims to build on the PUD’s successes, and learn from its failures.

“We’ve had a lot of success on our reliability improvements, in both water and power, that I’m not sure people know about, and I want to keep moving forward, making improvements to our systems,” Streett said. “Something we didn’t do a lot of in the early days, that we’re doing more of now, is community participation.”

Streett cited the PUD’s partnerships with other local government agencies, the Home Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council for Jefferson County.

“I’d like to see our staff get more involved with community groups (and) regional utility associations,” Streett said. “Our commissioners attend these, but I’d like to see more staff at the table as well, Including myself. I also think we’re at a point where we need to invest in our employees more than we have.”

To that end, one of Streett’s aspirations is for staff in all departments to receive more training and opportunities to advance, as well as “more attractive employment packages” to entice new hires to the PUD, to fill its vacancies.

Over the course of the next six months, the PUD will be focused on undergrounding its lines in downtown Port Townsend and South Discovery, relocating the power and water lines at Kilisut Harbor, and upgrading the Port Ludlow substation and the Bywater Bay well to increase flows.

Streett said the PUD is also working on a four-year work plan for its electric division, and a six-year work plan for water.

The four-year plan is required by the PUD’s lender, the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“It covers all of our planning for what we want to build, fix and spend money on for electric,” Streett said. “This where we map out all the improvements we plan to do to improve reliability.”

The six-year water plan is required by the state, to ensure the PUD has adequate water going forward, and is complying with all the pertinent regulations and protocols.

“It’s a complete system review by the state, every six years,” Streett said.

The PUD’s telecommunications strategic plan is also due this fall, and Streett is working with the board to develop a strategic plan for the whole organization, to determine its courses of action over the next five years.

“All these plans should kind of come together, hopefully,” Streett said. “The electric utility industry is always changing. Every utility I’ve been a part of, including this PUD, embraces change and innovation, and always has.”

As a lifelong electric utility person, Streett described the Jefferson County PUD as “cutting edge” and “state of the art” in its technology and management.

“I love the Jefferson County PUD and all that it encompasses,” Streett said. “Our employees are great. The community is great. I enjoy working with the customers, contractors, the city, the port, the county and state, just about everybody. I really want to see the PUD continue helping to improve the quality of life here. The better services we can provide, the more that supports the people who live here, through property values and development.”

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