Operating the 31 dams of the Federal Columbia River Power System is no easy task, but on Nov. 29 the Joint Operating Committee recognized the talent and teamwork that keeps the dams running and producing clean energy for the Northwest. Executives of the three agencies – Deputy Administrator Dan James of the Bonneville Power Administration, Deputy Regional Director Terry Kent of the Bureau of Reclamation and Director of Regional Business Northwestern Division Jim Hearn of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – gathered to honor the stars and unsung heroes of 2016 at the Nov. 29 meeting of the Joint Operating Committee in Portland.
“It truly is an honor to be here with those of you who work on the projects that are so important to the region and the country,” James said. “Now more than ever, I’m appreciative of what you do and the service that we give to the region and the nation. A clean, renewable resource, a river highway providing irrigation for this incredible bread basket we have in our region, flood control and recreation, it’s all an important part of who we are.”The JOC is the decision-making body that coordinates the staff and resources of the three agencies to steward the care – from daily operations to long-term asset plans – of the federal hydroelectric facilities in the Columbia Basin. Through the committee, which is nearly two decades old, the agencies work together to ensure these valuable resources continue to provide low-cost, reliable power for years to come.BPA engineer Sandra Takabayashi won two awards, one for a photo illustrating “Many Uses and Multipurpose Mission” and another for a photo that showed “Partnerships and Teams in Action.”Bruce Ludington from Reclamation received the year’s top honor, the FCRPS Hydro Hero award. Ludington was honored for, among other accomplishments, volunteering Palisade Dam for new pilot programs, instituting apprentice programs, and mentoring supervisors and journeymen from the region. He lends leadership support for the Minidoka Dam power plant and volunteers for FCRPS committee projects. Kent was recognized with the Founding Partner Award, for his accomplishments in building and leading the productive partnership among Reclamation, BPA and the Corps. Kent worked with BPA to establish the operating processes for the JOC. He established critical relationships necessary for successfully integrating the agency needs of all three federal agencies. His work also put into place measures that continue to ensure the long-term success of the partnership.The awards are just one part of the two-day meeting, where the leaders and operators of the dams review and coordinate the past, present and future of the dam operations.