PUD officially hires new manager

After months of deliberation, commissioners on Monday officially hired Dave Ward as the new Grays Harbor PUD general manager. Ward will start work June 20, one week after wrapping up his job at Tacoma Public Utility.

Ward, an Aberdeen native, said he is excited to move back to the Harbor.

“It’s going to be nice to be back home,” he said. “I’ve already made some connections with people I went to high school with — people I haven’t seen in 30 years.”

Ward said his goal is to keep rates low while still providing quality service. But he’ll take his first few months at the helm slowly, learning the ins and outs of Grays Harbor PUD.

“I’m going to do a lot of talking and walking around, just seeing how things are done,” Ward said. “We have a great management team in place, and I look forward to drawing on their insight.”

Chief Financial Officer Doug Streeter said Ward’s hiring couldn’t have come too soon. Streeter has been serving as interim general manager since the beginning of this year when former General Manager Rick Lovely retired. By serving as interim manager, Streeter removed himself from eligibility for the permanent position.

Processing applications for the position took about five months, Streeter said. He’s looking forward to only having to do one job — but he’s not expecting any free time in the coming weeks.

“I’ve got a lot of accounting to catch up on,” Streeter said.

Ward will earn an annual salary of $190,000 — about $8,000 a year less than Lovely, who earned $198,543 upon his 2012 retirement.

Ward grew up on the Harbor and graduated from Aberdeen High School in 1979. He then attended Grays Harbor College and transferred to Washington State University. He graduated with a bachelors degree in electrical engineering in 1984.

In 1985, Ward began his career with Tacoma Public Utility as an electrical engineer. In 1990, he became an electrical engineer for Grays Harbor PUD, where he worked until 1992. Ward then took a management position at Tacoma Public Utility. In 2007, he became Tacoma Public Utility’s transmission and distribution manager.

PUD Commission President Russ Skolrood said Ward’s experience helped him stand out from the other candidates.

“I think we have the right person,” Skolrood said. “I think we have a bright future going forward.”

Ward hasn’t yet moved out to Grays Harbor, and he’s unsure whether he’ll live in his native Aberdeen or another Grays Harbor city.

“I know Russ is really pushing to have me live in Hoquiam,” Ward said.