PORT ANGELES — Clallam Public Utility District commissioners have selected General Manager Doug Nass’ successor from within the ranks of their upper-echelon employees — without deciding yet on a salary.
Following an executive session Monday, Will Purser, Rick Paschall and Jim Waddell appointed Finance Manager-Treasurer Sean Worthington to succeed Nass, who will retire Jan. 15.
Among his top priorities will be steering the utility into a new direction dictated by the 2019 Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act, the goal of which is to provide an energy supply free of greenhouse gases by 2045.
Assistant General Manager John Purvis was a candidate for the position but withdrew his name for personal reasons, Commissioner Jim Waddell said Wednesday.
Commissioners did not advertise for applicants, relying on Nass, hired in 2006, to play a strong role in providing a potential successor.
Under a three-year retention agreement that expires Dec. 31, the board decided in 2018 that he would “guide the succession planning for the position of general manager.”
Under the pact, Nass, whose salary in 2021 will be $283,036, will be paid $60,000 by early next year. He also has received pro-rata amounts of $18,000 in 2019 and $20,000 in 2020, and he will receive $22,000 in 2021.
Worthington, 45, has a bachelor’s degree in management information systems and business management from Washington State University.
The Richland native was hired in 2013 as the PUD customer service supervisor, became customer service manager in 2015 and was named finance manager-treasurer in 2018, succeeding David Papandrew.
As customer service manager, Worthington oversaw the meter reading, conservation and power supply departments, and he was the project manager for the utility’s new Enterprise software system.
He said he is “very confident” his salary will be less than Nass’.
“I am confident we will come to an amicable agreement,” he added.
“I will make a recommendation to the board, and they will deliberate on that recommendation.”
Worthington expects a resolution on his hiring to go before the board Sept. 27 and board vote Oct. 11.
Commissioner Jim Waddell said the board has not decided on a salary estimate.
“We’ve talked in generalities,” he said. “We want to look at this fresh.”
Worthington will oversee about 145 employees and an expenditure budget that in 2021 is $78.25 million.
It is comprised of $71.1 million for electric services, $7 million for the water system and $160,000 for the sewer system. The systems have $20.1 million in reserves.
“What we are looking for is leadership skills and what other skills do they bring to the party, and does that play an important role in the needs of the organization in the next several years,” Waddell said.
“I’m not only pleased but excited to have Sean there. We’ve got a really first-class team.”
Purser and Paschall did not return calls for comment on Worthington’s appointment.
In separate interviews, Waddell and Worthington agreed that negotiating a new 20-year power supply contract with the Bonneville Power Administration is a top priority for the PUD’s new general manager.
Negotiations are ongoing to have it signed in 2025. It would take effect in 2028.
“In the near term, it is really incumbent on me and the commissioners to ensure we negotiate a successful contract with Bonneville,” Worthington said.
Under CETA, the PUD and other electric utilities in Washington must eliminate coal-based electricity by 2026, use a carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2030 and derive all electricity from renewable or non-carbon-emitting sources by 2045.
“This contract encompasses some of those dates, and it’s crucial we get it right,” Worthington said.
Bonneville produces hydropower that, as clean energy under CETA, will be in high demand from other utilities.
“It will be tough to adhere to our mission of low cost and reliable service,” Worthington warned.
“Wind and solar are intermittent sources, and we will be required to remove baseload resources like natural gas and coal.
“There are lots of challenges to bring those types of things to the grid.”
Worthington and his family moved to Port Angeles in 2013.
His wife, Morgan, born and raised in Port Angeles, is a Port Angeles School District instructional coach for new teachers.
The couple, who met at WSU, have two children who attend Port Angeles High School.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].