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Honoring the Best: Exceptional Service Award Winners

WAPA is a key player in the energy sector, providing millions with reliable and affordable power. The Exceptional Service Award is WAPA’s most prestigious employee award. It honors individuals who go above and beyond their expected duties, demonstrating exceptional dedication, innovation and expertise in their work.

This year’s awardees are outstanding examples of WAPA’s commitment to excellence. They have excelled in their respective fields and contributed significantly to WAPA’s mission. The ESA award is a well-deserved recognition of their contributions and a reminder of WAPA’s critical role in powering the western United States.

Brian Sadler

Brian Sadler
Colorado River Storage Project
Administrative Officer

Brian Sadler, an Administrative Officer at CRSP, has been a lynchpin, demonstrating remarkable leadership and expertise. His work with the CRSP Regional Team, Technical Services and Financial Management has been pivotal in enhancing the efficiency and strategic execution of projects. Sadler’s  Environmental and Resource Management Team leadership showcases his commitment to environmental stewardship and operational excellence. His efforts have been crucial in maintaining the value of WAPA’s hydropower resources.

Moreover, his role in developing an effective partnership with the Desert Southwest region exemplifies his collaborative approach and strategic insight. This resourcefulness has significantly contributed to coordinating initiatives across the upper and lower Colorado River Basins, enhancing both regions’ ability to respond to environmental and operational challenges effectively. His leadership in this domain has been essential in shaping key policies and strategies impacting WAPA’s operations.

Beyond these contributions, Sadler’s nomination to key committees such as the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Working Group and his active involvement in managing the Upper Colorado River Basin operations demonstrate his broad scope of influence and dedication. He has actively participated in critical environmental assessments and negotiations, showcasing his ability to lead through complex and contentious topics.

Jerry Whitile

Jerry Wilhite
Colorado River Storage Project
Management and Program Analyst

Jerry Wilhite’s journey at WAPA has been marked by versatility and profound impact. Starting as a Fish Biologist and transitioning to a Management and Program Analyst, Wilhite has expanded his expertise to encompass a broad spectrum of roles within CRSP. His understanding of hydropower operations and his proficiency in complex modeling programs like GTMax have proven invaluable in informing decision-making processes at WAPA.

Wilhite’s deep dive into operational aspects and environmental concerns has significantly contributed to modeling CRSP’s power system. His development of GTMax Superlite has simplified complex analyses, enabling more efficient and effective operational planning. This technical prowess has enhanced WAPA’s ability to make strategic decisions, balancing environmental considerations with operational needs.

In addition to his technical skills, his ability to build strong relationships with stakeholders stands out. His collaborative efforts, particularly in the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, have fostered trust and effective communication, which are crucial in stakeholder negotiations. His ability to clearly articulate complex processes and data analysis to a wide range of audiences has solidified his reputation as a subject matter expert and a respected voice within WAPA.

Patti Pollock

Patti Pollock
Supervisory IT Specialist

During her 30-year tenure as an IT Specialist at WAPA’s headquarters, Patti Pollock has shown exceptional leadership and innovation in driving critical IT projects. She has spearheaded numerous initiatives significantly contributing to WAPA’s technological advancement. Her remarkable understanding of WAPA’s operational needs and technical solutions is reflected in her leadership, implementing essential systems for rate setting and revenue collection.

Pollock’s project management skills and ability to navigate complex technical landscapes have been instrumental in optimizing service delivery. Her efforts in projects such as the Power Repayment Study and the Western Power and Transmission Billing System demonstrate her capacity to unify diverse requirements and successfully complete projects. These projects, among others, have played a critical role in standardizing processes and enhancing operational efficiency across WAPA.

Moreover, Pollock’s commitment to WAPA’s strategic objectives is evident in her approach to her work. She embodies the core values of WAPA, particularly in her drive for continuous improvement and excellence. Her ability to foster collaboration and share knowledge has benefited her projects and contributed to the growth of skills and expertise within the organization.

Dan Degracie

Dan DeGracie
Desert Southwest

Dan DeGracie, as the Manager at the Phoenix Operations Center, has shown exceptional leadership and technical expertise in managing power system operations. His role in overseeing the integration of the California Independent System Operator Energy Imbalance Market operations desk in Phoenix is a notable example of his innovative approach to operational challenges. This project has significantly enhanced the efficiency and reliability of WAPA’s real-time operations.

DeGracie’s leadership extends beyond project management to encompass crisis management, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. His efforts to ensure the safety and continuous operation of the dispatchers under challenging circumstances demonstrate his commitment to operational continuity and the well-being of his team. His steadfast dedication under stress speaks to his leadership qualities and ability to navigate complex situations.

Furthermore, DeGracie’s contributions extend to various initiatives to enhance employee development and foster a positive organizational culture. His involvement in the DSW Guiding Outstanding Accountable Leaders mentoring program and his Inclusion and Diversity Trainer role highlight his dedication to nurturing talent and promoting an inclusive work environment.

Scott Lund

Scott Lund
Desert Southwest
Strategic Utility Industry Restructuring Advisor

Scott Lund has been instrumental in the success of several key projects within WAPA. His deep understanding of the utility industry and his analytical skills and customer insights have enabled him to contribute significantly to WAPA’s strategic initiatives. His involvement in the Pinal Central-ED5 Project is a prime example of his ability to develop creative and beneficial solutions for WAPA and its stakeholders.

His expertise in contracts and finance was crucial in the Vail-to-Tortolita Project, where he played a key role as a technical advisor and negotiator. Lund’s innovative approach in developing a unique public-private partnership structure for this project demonstrates his skill in creating win-win scenarios that benefit all parties involved. The project’s success in strengthening the regional transmission grid and transmitting renewable energy while saving costs illustrates his exceptional capabilities.

Lund’s expertise in customer rates and repayment played a pivotal role in WAPA-wide initiatives such as the Power Repayment Study replacement. His contributions in this area reflect his comprehensive understanding of WAPA’s financial mechanisms and ability to apply this knowledge to enhance operational efficiency.

Brandy Graybeal

Brandy Graybeal
Rocky Mountain
Power System Dispatcher, Trainer

Brandy Graybeal has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and a deep commitment to fostering a culture of learning and resilience at WAPA. Her influence in developing the dispatcher training playbook for the Rocky Mountain region has enhanced the quality and effectiveness of WAPA’s training programs. Her involvement in creating innovative training modules, like the aspiring dispatcher chapter, illustrates her forward-thinking approach and dedication to professional development within the organization.

Graybeal’s leadership extends beyond WAPA, as evidenced by her active participation in various industry groups. Her contributions to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Exam Working Group and other forums have elevated WAPA’s training standards and positioned the organization as a leader in system operations training. Her influence is widespread, enhancing the knowledge and skills of system operators nationwide.

Her recent academic and professional achievements, including a master’s in education and human resources and her graduation from the Department of Energy’s Leadership Development Program, further highlight her commitment to personal and professional growth.

Steven Turner

Steven Turner
Desert Southwest
Senior Contract Specialist

Steven Turner has established himself as a key figure in WAPA’s procurement landscape through his exceptional performance and expertise. His impressive record of managing contracts and achieving significant cost savings for WAPA underscores his skill and dedication to fiscal responsibility. Turner’s ability to execute complex contract actions efficiently and his mentorship of others in Procurement have contributed significantly to the enhancement of WAPA’s procurement processes.

Turner’s role extends beyond his immediate responsibilities, as demonstrated by his active support across different regions and his leadership in major contract acquisitions. His appointment as a Source Selection Authority on several high-profile projects reflects his expertise and the trust placed in him by WAPA leadership. His involvement in these projects has helped ensure their success and brought value to WAPA.

Furthermore, Turner’s contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic were instrumental in securing essential supplies and services for WAPA. His proactive approach in managing emergency requirements, such as HVAC repairs and disinfection services, ensured uninterrupted operations and safety for WAPA personnel.

Mark Phelps

Mark Phelps
Supervisory Information Technology Specialist

Mark Phelps has significantly contributed to advancing the organization’s IT capabilities. His innovative work in developing and implementing key applications such as the Repository for Energy Contracts and the Shared Repository for Contracts has streamlined operations and enhanced efficiency across WAPA. Mark’s technical leadership in these projects demonstrates his deep understanding of WAPA’s operational needs and ability to deliver effective IT solutions.

Phelps’ vision for IT architecture standardization has led to improved support and reduced development efforts across WAPA. His efforts in developing the WAPA Portal, which provides a unified access point for applications, have significantly enhanced user experience and organizational efficiency. This approach aligns with WAPA’s strategic stewardship goal, aiming to keep rates low while ensuring high-quality service.

Furthermore, Phelps’ leadership in strategic projects, such as the Hoover application and California Independent System Operator Energy Imbalance Market implementations, showcases his exceptional project management skills and technical expertise. These projects, completed on time and within budget, reflect Phelps’ ability to handle high-priority initiatives effectively.

Greg Fuhrman

Greg Fuhrmann
Upper Great Plains
High Voltage Electrical Leader
Foreman II Lineman

Greg Fuhrmann exemplifies WAPA’s core values through his outstanding service in transmission maintenance and emergency restorations. His proactive approach, willingness to assist on large projects and commitment to safe execution set him apart as a leader in his field. Fuhrmann’s dedication to sharing his expertise and mentoring the next generation of professionals speaks to his commitment to excellence and the development of WAPA’s workforce.

Fuhrmann’s impact extends beyond his professional duties. His active involvement in his community, particularly through coaching youth sports, demonstrates his dedication to service and his ability to inspire and lead others. His ability to build strong relationships with landowners and stakeholders has benefited WAPA, fostering trust and cooperation essential for successful partnerships.

Moreover, Fuhrmann’s expertise in handling complex equipment and his meticulous planning for safe task execution ensure the safety and reliability of WAPA’s operations. His approach to continuously learning and improving, coupled with his dedication to mentoring others, ensures that his high standards of excellence get passed on to future WAPA professionals.

Chris Colson

Chris Colson
Upper Great Plains
Supervisory Electrical Engineer

Chris Colson has made significant contributions to WAPA through his expertise and leadership. His role in supporting the Southwest Power Pool Regional Transmission Organization and his involvement in various SPP groups highlight his commitment to process improvement. Chris’s independent research and analyses have been vital in ensuring that the UGP region’s mission is effectively met within the SPP Regional Transmission Organization.

Colson’s willingness to step up and assist within WAPA and his valuable representation through numerous groups demonstrate his dedication and expertise. His presentations on multiple topics to regional and industry groups reflect his deep knowledge and ability to communicate complex information effectively. His involvement in developing a customer service module to assist with FERC Order 881 exemplifies his proactive approach and technical acumen.

In addition, Chris contributed to the Neutral Blocking Device project, funded by the DOE, which significantly mitigates the effects of geomagnetic induced currents. His leadership in this project and his overall contributions to WAPA’s operations and policy development make him a deserving recipient of the ESA.

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Last modified on March 21st, 2024