After 13 years of service, Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood is resigning at the end of June. Skolrood, who quit teaching last year following a long career as an educator and coach at Hoquiam High School, said that serving on the commission, which comes with salary and retirement, prevents him from drawing his retirement as a teacher.
Skolrood said he quit teaching at Hoquiam last year, mostly because he enjoyed teaching in person, but he couldn’t retire from the school district because he was still employed as a PUD commissioner. He even asked the state if he could volunteer his time as a commissioner in order to retire as an educator, but that still wouldn’t allow him to draw retirement wasn’t permissible.
“This is a job I literally tried to do for free, but I’ve been told that’s not possible, so with great regret, I have to announce my decision to step down,” said Skolrood. “What makes this a lot tougher is that I now have more time to dedicate to the PUD and its customers. I have loved every minute of my time with the utility and want to thank the voters for their trust and confidence, my fellow commissioners for their counsel and friendship and the PUD staff for their hard work and service to the community.”
Skolrood was first elected to the three-person board in November 2008. During that time he served as board president, vice president and secretary, and helped the PUD navigate a number of significant events, including the COVID pandemic, the implementation of the Energy Independence and Clean Energy Transformation Acts, the closure and cleanup of the Harbor Paper site and, he says, most importantly, the appointment of two new general managers.
“Without a doubt, the appointment of Dave Ward and Schuyler Burkhart were the most significant decisions that I was a part of at the PUD,” said Skolrood. “I think both of those managers were the right fit at the right time for the utility and their leadership and vision has made the PUD stronger, a better place to work and an asset for the Grays Harbor community.”
The remaining board members will begin the process of accepting applications and interviewing interested applicants from Grays Harbor’s District Three, which includes Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, North Beach and North Grays Harbor. The commission position will then appear on the general election ballot in November of 2022.
“When you serve on a PUD board, the work is never done. You complete one task and move on and there are some big ones ahead,” said Skolrood. “Working with our elected officials to come out of COVID in a way that minimizes a negative impact on our customers, making sure people know how important our clean energy system is, and renegotiating our Bonneville Power Administration contracts are all things I was looking forward to doing. But I am confident that Commissioner Timmons, Callaghan and whomever takes my seat will work with the utility staff to get the job done.”