PORT HADLOCK — Larry Dunbar had a great day.
“Today was a wonderful day. I met so many pleasant people from the community,” Dunbar said Friday. “I shook over 300 hands.”
Friday marked the Jefferson County Public Utility District’s (PUD) fifth anniversary of locally owned public power, and it held a community celebration to mark the acquisition from Puget Sound Energy.
It was also a time to meet Dunbar, the new general manager.
Dunbar will begin his tenure April 23 and said he wouldn’t have missed the celebration and the opportunity to meet staff, colleagues and customers.
Dunbar has been in the utility business for 36 years, most recently as an energy services director for the city of Ellensburg.
He also was a utility manager for the city of Port Angeles.
“I have several friends in the community and it was so nice to see them,” he said. “Two commissioners from Clallam PUD and its general manager came to visit and celebrate the anniversary. I’ve known them for years and have been business friends.”
During the reception, PUD commissioners said employees are the utility’s most valuable resources, and they thanked the community for its continued support.
In an interview Friday afternoon, Dunbar said he plans to hit the ground running by talking with his staff.
“Building our team is very important,” he said. “The PUD hasn’t had a manager for seven to eight months. I’m a people person and we’re going to be holding meetings every week with the people who report to me. I also want to institute quarterly meetings with all employees. I want to establish a rapport and get to know everyone.
“Initially, I need to become familiar with how the PUD operates.
“We do the same thing over and over again. I want to understand those processes that are in place and want to make sure everyone understands them.
“If there are opportunities to improve our processes to speed up service to our customers or provide quality service, that’s where I want to spend my time. I want to eventually be in the position where I am confident that we are running our business — that’s power, water, septic and broadband — in the most effective and efficient manner.”
Dunbar said he believes information exchange is his most important job.
“Communications is my top priority. It’s my responsibility to communicate with my commissioners, to the public and to our employees. I prefer to do that face to face when at all possible. I’m trustworthy, with the highest integrity. People can count on me to be logical, reasonable and systematic.”
He said that several people discussed the metering issue with him at the celebration.
“I suggested to the sixth person who brought this topic up that they gather themselves together as a group and schedule a time to meet with me. I want to have more involvement with the community regarding these types of issues,” Dunbar said.
“Someday the PUD will have to move forward with the metering question. We’ll have many meetings and conversations, and there will be newspaper articles and advertising. We’ll have lots of communication and discussion.”
Dunbar said that the PUD is getting a lot of attention now because of some things that are a bit controversial.
“Our mission is to provide reliable, safe and affordable services. I know there’s a lot of varied interest in metering, our facility needs, community solar — those are the biggest things I’ve heard about. I don’t think we can afford to do them all. We need to prioritize and determine the most important things to work on.”
Dunbar is relocating to Jefferson County and has three grown children — a son in Olympia, a daughter in New York City and his youngest son, who is graduating from Central Washington University in Ellensburg and will begin a mechanical engineering position in Auburn.
Dunbar said he’s looking forward to his first day as general manager.
“When you flip the light switch and it doesn’t come on for whatever reason, that’s when you think of the PUD. Now I want you to think of the PUD when it’s on.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].