NW Power/Conservation Council Selects Northwest Natural’s Bill Edmonds As New Executive Director, Starts August 17

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council this week named utility executive Bill Edmonds as its new Executive Director. Edmonds will replace Steve Crow, who will retire in August after serving 25 years in the position. Edmonds’ first day at the Council will be Monday, August 17th.

Edmonds is only the third Council director in 40 years.

Edmonds comes to the Council directorship after a long career in the utility sector, most recently holding the position of Director of Environmental Management and Sustainability at NW Natural, Oregon’s largest natural gas utility.

Prior to that, he worked for PacifiCorp, served as a staff member on the California Public Utilities Commission, and as an environmental consultant.

NW Natural, formerly Northwest Natural Gas Company, serves customers along the Oregon Coast, in the Willamette Valley, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Portland metropolitan area.

In his various roles as a “leader in the utility sector, Edmonds helped companies develop new and innovative strategies for addressing environmental issues while managing high-performing teams,” said the Council in Thursday’s hiring announcement.

Most recently, at NW Natural, he worked with an interdisciplinary team “on a strategy to decarbonize the natural gas system using both renewable natural gas and renewable hydrogen,” said the Council.

He has an undergraduate degree in political science from Williams College and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley.

“The Council staff has been very capably managed by just two executive directors over its 40-year history. These leaders have left a legacy of excellence for the region. I’m honored to be joining the Council team and feel a great responsibility to continue their good work,” said Edmonds.

“The region’s reliance on strong, accurate analysis seems more important than ever as we take on vexing issues pertaining to energy, fish, and wildlife that must be approached with a regional view. I’m excited to be guiding the team in support of the Council’s critical mission. I look forward to working with the Council and its strong staff to bring our best analysis forward as we fully engage in these critical issues.”

Edmonds is “well known in the community and comes to the Council with extensive board experience,” said the Council notice. He currently serves on the Board for the Community Cycling Center and Portland Energy Conservation, Inc.

He is a past board member of the Oregon Environmental Council, Earth Advantage, and The Climate Trust.

“We selected Bill from an impressive pool of qualified candidates. Council members agreed that Bill’s extensive professional experience, leadership positions, familiarity with the region, and management style combined to make him the best fit for the organization,” said Council Chair Richard Devlin, Oregon member. “Given Bill’s background and knowledge of the Pacific Northwest, we expect him to hit the ground running and provide a seamless transition in leadership for the organization. We look forward to working with Bill as the Council and the staff build upon our legacy of capably guiding regional policy.”

The Council is an interstate compact comprising the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The governors of the four states each appoint two people to serve on the Council.

Retiring Crow has been executive director of the Council since December 1995, after being director of the Council’s public affairs division from 1991 to 1995. He joined the Council in 1988 as government affairs director. Before that, he was staff director of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal energy and water policy. He also was counsel to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Ed Sheets was the founding executive director after passage of the 1980 Northwest Power Act, which created the Council, and served for 15 years. https://www.nwcouncil.org/sites/default/files/poweract.pdf

The power act stipulated that governors from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington appoint two members to an interstate compact, the Northwest Power Planning Council.

Under the act, the eight member Council is responsible for:

(1) developing a 20-year electrical power plan that will guarantee adequate energy at the lowest cost to the region;

(2) developing a regional program to protect and rebuild fish and wildlife populations affected by hydropower development; and

(3) developing these plans with extensive public input and involvement.

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