The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is notifying customers in Ocean Shores of a planned power outage impacting a small section of Ocean Shores Blvd.  The outage will begin at 8:00 PM on Thursday, January 14 and is expected to last until 6:00 AM on Friday, January 15 and will affect roughly 47 properties, two of which are multi-unit vacation condominiums.  Those impacted are residents on the 1300-block of Ocean Shores Blvd, including the Worldmark property, and the Vacation International property at 1401 Ocean Shores Blvd.  All impacted customers will receive a notification phone call from the PUD.

The outage is part of an ongoing project by the PUD to conduct system maintenance.

In preparation for this outage, customers are advised to take precautions with any electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, and microwaves by unplugging those items.  You should leave them disconnected until after the power has been fully restored. 

The outage duration of ten hours is only an estimate and power could be restored at any time as work is completed.  Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period.

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners has completed the hiring process of the utility’s next general manager.  On Monday, the board passed a resolution officially naming Schuyler Burkhart to the office. Burkhart has served as the PUD Engineering Director since 2014 and will replace Dave Ward, who will retire from the PUD at the end of February.

“I am grateful to the board for their support and confidence and excited for the opportunity to serve the Grays Harbor community,” said Burkhart.  “Working together, we move into the PUD’s 81st year, focusing on the safe and reliable delivery of power, telecommunications, and energy services.”

Over the next two months, Burkhart will serve as Assistant General Manager, working with Ward to transition into the leadership role that he will officially assume on March 1st.

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners has begun the process of hiring the next General Manager of the utility.  At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners introduced a resolution offering the position to Engineering Director Schuyler Burkhart.  The board plans to formally approve the resolution at their first meeting of January.  Burkhart will replace current manager Dave Ward, who will retire at the end of February.

“The Grays Harbor PUD is headed in the right direction, and we have found the person to continue that and help the utility fulfill its mission to our customers,” said PUD Board President Russ Skolrood.  “Schuyler’s leadership has helped put the PUD on a solid foundation.  We’re looking forward to working with him and the rest of the PUD team to maintain that foundation and build on it into the future.”

Burkhart joined the PUD as Engineering Director in March of 2014.  Prior to that he served as a senior supervisor of the Tacoma Power Transmission and Distribution section. Over a 26 year career, he has held multiple engineering and project management roles, and supervised engineering, administrative, meter, substation, relay and line service crews.  A graduate of Tacoma Community College and the University of Washington, Burkhart is a registered Professional Engineer in Washington state. Born and raised in Western Washington, he loves living in East County near Elma with his family.

“I’m  honored and excited to serve in this role and continue the valuable investment the utility has made in the professional growth of our staff, improving the safety and reliability of our utility systems, and most of all, fulfilling our mission of service to our customers,” said Burkhart.  “I’m very thankful for Dave Ward’s work that has positioned the PUD very positively as he moves into retirement, and for the board’s support and confidence in the PUD team and me as we move forward together.”

Abigail Kay, daughter of Grays Harbor PUD System Engineering Supervisor Dan Kay, has been awarded the Washington Public Utility District Association (WPUDA) Educational Scholarship.  The $1000 scholarship is awarded annually to the child or dependent of a WPUDA utility member who is a “well-rounded student that demonstrates scholastic ability, community involvement, and thoughtful consideration of the services provided by PUDs.” 

“I am so grateful to WPUDA for this great honor and to the Grays Harbor PUD for supporting my application,” said Kay.  “I’d also like to thank my parents and teachers who have been so supportive, especially during this uncertain time.”

Kay, a senior at WF West High School in Chehalis, hopes to begin her college education next fall at the University of California, Berkeley or Stanford, where she plans to study molecular genetics.  She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, takes college level courses through the College in the Classroom program and is a member of the National Honor Society.  Outside the classroom, Kay has served as a page for the Washington State Senate, volunteers for the Chehalis Foundation and the United Way of Lewis County, and is an active dancer and instructor at the Southwest Washington Dance Center.

As part of her scholarship application, Kay wrote an essay on public utilities and their work on rural broadband expansion, which she called “an essential service that needs the support of public utility districts across Washington.”

An annual examination and report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) has given the Grays Harbor PUD high marks on Financial Statements and Accountability.  The report included no findings in the two areas and complimented the PUD for conducting the audit under rules set by the COVID response.

“I want to thank the Accounting Department and the PUD staff for their outstanding work.  This report tells our customers that they can trust their PUD and as a public entity, trust and faith from the customers is vital,” said Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood.

The report by the SAO covered the period of January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.  In the area of accountability the report found that District operations complied in all material respects “with applicable state laws, regulations, and its (the PUD’s) own policies, and provided adequate controls over the safeguarding of public resources.”  The final report also found that the PUD’s financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position (of the PUD).”

Normally carried out at the PUD offices, the 2020 audit was handled remotely in compliance with COVID-19 precautions.  SAO staff complimented the PUD for providing all needed documents electronically and setting up virtual meetings as needed and closed Wednesday’s exit conference by saying that while many audits have been carried out under COVID restrictions “none have gone more smoothly and cleanly than this one.”