Closed Circuit

​By Philip Reed​

Every year, Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel honors standout employees with Exceptional Service Awards. The ESAs recognize those who excel in technical competency, enthusiasm, innovation and commitment to bettering themselves and WAPA.

“ESAs distinguish those who consistently go above and beyond, model WAPA’s core values and provide exceptional service to WAPA and its customers,” said Gabriel in his announcement. “Receiving an ESA is a once-in-a-career recognition that exemplifies outstanding service, initiative and integrity.”

All ESA nominations are submitted by employees and peers. Here are the winners for 2020.


AMY CUTLER Organizational Project Manager

Amy Cutler has demonstrated excellence in performance and leadership in project management, continuous improvement and asset management. She is the project manager for the Southwest Power Pool Western Energy Imbalance Service implementation project, which is on schedule for a February 2021 implementation.

The WEIS involves coordinating efforts with staff from three regions and a project management team from SPP. She led the WAPA-wide Organizational Approach to Markets project, completing Phase 1 ahead of schedule, and has put considerable effort into evaluating the OAM Phase 2 recommendations and preparing project plans for start dates after market decisions and implementation.

Cutler completed her Continuous Process Improvement green belt by leading the Salt Lake City office relocation. She also led the project for retrofitting a warehouse in Page, Arizona. This critical and complex project, involving both WAPA and the Bureau of Reclamation, demonstrated her ability to work with diverse groups across multiple organizations. The estimated cost avoidance from this effort for both organizations was $5 million when compared to building a new facility. She also provided project manage­ment for the Transformer Acquisition Strategy Project and the Power Repayment Study upgrade project.

Cutler has completed the certified Change Management course and is a change agent instructor throughout WAPA. She was a member of the Project Management Advisory Group and is a member of the Inclusion, Innovation and Technology Committee and the Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Headshot of Amy Cutler


ROY FREEMAN Foreman II Protection & Communication

Roy Freeman is recognized across WAPA as an expert in all areas of Protection, Metering & Relaying, communications equipment and re­mote terminal units. He is an integral part of ensuring that the organiza­tion’s standards for communication and protection are maintained.

He has continually gone above and beyond in maintaining and commissioning projects. He’s been involved with the development of project scope, design and installation requirements for the DSW Communications “backbone” and protection systems. Freeman is also a pioneer in the implementation of im­proved technologies to increase the reliability of WAPA’s power system.

Freeman is both innovative and a by-the-book foreman who does not allow convenience to interfere with safety and procedure. If he sees something wrong, he has no problem stopping the work and having it redone the proper way. He has established himself as the point of contact for many customers and organizations by sharing his ideas, setting the example and always offering a help­ing hand.

He has provided outstanding leadership by demonstrat­ing daily his ability to listen, to understand issues and concerns, to pass on his knowledge and to coach and mentor other employees. Freeman is well known for pro­viding responsive support for field crews and is willing to drop whatever he is doing to help others. His experience, knowledge, professionalism and work ethic have enabled him to earn the trust and confidence of others.

Headshot of Roy Freeman


ED HUNT Foreman III Lineman

Ed Hunt has worked in the electric utility industry for nearly 37 years, with 28 of those spent at WAPA. He is recognized as an industry leader and a subject matter expert who has made significant contributions to WAPA, the electric utility industry and the craft as a whole.

Hunt is constantly driven to do better. He promotes the highest degree of improvement, efficiency, safety and responsibility. He implemented the first pilot of the Craft Leadership Development Program in Rocky Mountain in 2008 and served on the steering committee that formalized the WAPA-wide program in 2013. He has served as co-chair of the Fall Protection Committee and is a member of the Accident Investigation Team. He has worked on national disaster response teams, such as in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

His leadership extends well beyond WAPA. He holds leadership roles on industry standards and research committees. Through the contribution of his expertise and his advocacy for the crafts in these forums, he elevates WAPA’s standing in the industry.

Hunt has pushed for the research and develop­ment of tools, methods and resources for lineman who perform live-line work. He has worked exten­sively with the Electric Power Research Institute and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to develop reference guides and indus­try standards for live-line tools. He also contributed to EPRI’s “Tan Book,” the industry live-line work reference guide.

Headshot of Ed Hunt


ROSEMARY JONES Power Marketing & Energy Services Specialist

Rosemary Jones started at WAPA in 1997 as an Information Technology contractor. In this role she worked with the help desk, systems technology, network­ing technology and eventually supervisory control and data acquisition. She was hired as a federal employee in 2004, and her first project was running IT quality control for 13 brand-new systems being implemented in support of WAPA’s marketing plan.

She later served as the merchant lead for the implementation of the California Independent System Operator Market Redesign. In 2012, she became settlement supervisor, where she was instrumental in the implementation of both phases of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 764 and recovered more than $5 million in erroneous charges through years of good-faith negotiations with CAISO.

Jones served a detail in Upper Great Plains to set up their power settlements team and develop new processes in preparation for their joining the Southwest Power Pool. She also served on various teams during the Organizational Approach to Markets project in 2017, keeping track of documentation, maintaining schedules and facilitating meetings.

In 2018 Rosemary took on the role of Real Time Merchant Team Lead. That summer she found herself on the front line with the merchants during the Carr Fire, where in the first 24 hours powerplants lost over half of their generation capacity due to loss of trans­mission. She worked to restore federal hydropower service to affected customers for the next two weeks.

Headshot of Rosemary Jones



James Phillips has served WAPA in a number of capaci­ties for more than 17 years. As the Upper Great Plains supervisory control and data acquisition infrastructure supervisor, he implemented the first known split-site virtualization platform in a SCADA environment, achiev­ing unprecedented SCADA resilience for UGP’s Operations and Balancing Authority functions.

As UGP’s regional information officer, Phillips led an initiative to ensure metering and network readiness for Southwest Power Pool market integra­tion. As a vice president of Information Technology, his team established the Secure Enclave Support Center, a segregated network for substation mainte­nance and cybersecurity activities. The SESC greatly diminishes cybersecurity and compliance risks for WAPA, allowing for secure maintenance and monitoring of critical substation infrastructure. In his current role, Phillips has established the framework for WAPA to achieve a common architecture and environment across WAPA’s SCADA environments.

Phillips has demonstrated the leadership compe­tencies necessary to bring diverse IT teams together in a manner that allows WAPA to remain agile and adaptable during times of unprecedented industry change.

Phillips also recognizes the importance of a diverse workforce and went the extra mile to draw in talented individuals through the Department of Energy’s sum­mer intern program. He has exhibited great discipline in ensuring the foundation of WAPA’s IT organization is solidly in place to meet future demands.

Headshot of James Phillips


DIRK SHULUND Project Manager

During his time at WAPA, Dirk Shulund has provided timely and effective project management of many complex interconnection requests and other projects. His contribu­tions were critical to the successful transition of UGP’s Generation Interconnection queue into the Southwest Power Pool, which was essen­tial to allowing UGP to successfully join SPP in 2015.

Shulund successfully anticipated, coordinated and addressed issues related to the transition of UGP into SPP, including GI coordination, crediting issues, transition of GI requests, updates to GI agreements, coordination of studies with SPP and customers and more. His expert leadership and project-management skills under tight deadlines were demonstrated in the Garrison-to-Snake Creek 115-kilovolt addition project. Most recently, Shulund has managed the complex Keystone XL Pipeline interconnections project.

Numerous customers have expressed their sin­cere appreciation for his crucial leadership skills and efforts that contributed to successful projects over the years. He has always responded expertly and flexibly to tough issues that arose, such as different approaches, tight schedules and unexpected issues.

Shulund has also sought to contribute to WAPA’s success in broader ways, such as in his administra­tive officer detail to Desert Southwest. He has always gone above and beyond in his willingness to dedi­cate additional time to projects, above his normal duty, to meet deadlines. He creates an environment of teamwork and has fostered extraordinary coop­eration between functional areas, external partners and customers.

Last modified on March 5th, 2024