Steve Onken (photo courtesy Dean Gurr, Creative Imaging Center)

Onken retires from Yuba County Water Agency, Kline replaces

Steve Onken has retired as power systems manager with Yuba County Water Agency, and Michael Kline replaced him in June.

Onken will do consulting work in the hydro industry, including for YCWA. He has accepted a position on the Board of Directors for South Feather Water & Power Agency (formerly the Oroville-Wyandotte Irrigation District). The California agency delivers water for consumption and irrigation, as well as operating hydro facilities.

Onken joined YCWA in 2000. He managed the maintenance, operations, compliance and capital improvements for the 397-MW Yuba River Development Project. Before that, he was power project manager with South Feather Water & Power and worked in the hydroelectric department of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

During Onken’s tenure, YCWA received the National Hydropower Association’s 2008 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award for the retrofit of a bypass to the 46.8-MW Narrows 2 project. The bypass is intended to maintain optimum flow and water temperature to sustain fisheries in the Yuba River in the event the powerhouse shuts down.

Kline will be responsible for overall management of the Yuba River Development Project, which includes the hydro powerhouses and 966,000 acre-foot New Bullards Bar Reservoir and Dam.

Previously, Kline managed the city of Ketchikan, Alaska’s electric utility from 2009 to 2011, which includes hydroelectric and diesel generation, transmission and distribution. Before that, he was managing director of PG&E Cor’s USGen hydro assets from 1998 to 2005, until those assets were sold to TransCanada. Kline spent 16 years with PG&E’s hydro division, with positions such as supervising engineer and hydro superintendent.

Kevin Easley

Easley resigns as CEO of Grand River Dam Authority

Kevin Easley resigned as chief executive officer of Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma, effective July 31. Michael Kiefner, GRDA’s chief operating officer, is serving as interim CEO/director of investments until a replacement is hired.

Easley resigned to pursue an opportunity in the private sector, GRDA says.

He joined GRDA in March 2004. During Easley’s tenure as CEO, GRDA increased its bond ratings from BBB+ (negative outlook) to A (stable outlook), acquired the Red Bud Gas Plant, developed shoreline management plans for its Grand and Hudson lakes, established an Ecosystems Management Department and upgraded aging facilities and infrastructure to meet federal requirements.

The GRDA board is searching for Easley’s replacement. Interim CEO Kiefner has been with GRDA since March 2004 and was appointed COO in January 2006. Before joining GRDA, Kiefner was staff attorney for the Oklahoma State Senate.

GRDA operates three hydroelectric facilities and manages two lakes along the Grand River system in northeast Oklahoma. The authority, created in 1935, has a total generation capacity of 1,480 MW when its coal-fired complex and the Red Bud facility are added.

Avista Corp. names Burke, Holley to board of directors

Donald C. Burke and Rick R. Holley have been named to the board of directors for Avista Corp.

Burke is an independent trustee for the Goldman Sachs mutual fund complex and before that was a managing director for BlackRock Inc., and served as president and chief executive officer of the BlackRock U.S. mutual funds.

Holley is president and CEO of Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. Before that, he was assistant vice president for corporate audit at Burlington Northern Inc.

Avista, an investor-owned utility headquartered in Spokane, Wash., owns and operates several hydro projects in Idaho, Montana, and Washington, including the Clark Fork and Spokane River projects. These projects have a total capacity of 999 MW.

Kenneth Fonnesbeck

Fonnesbeck joins Mead & Hunt as senior associate

Kenneth Fonnesbeck. P.E., is a senior associate with Mead & Hunt.

Fonnesbeck has more than 30 years of experience in senior-level civil engineer design, project and construction management associated with hydro generation, water resources and public works projects.

He is establishing and managing Mead & Hunt’s new Seattle area office. Fonnesbeck will provide technical support and supervision to benefit Mead & Hunt’s hydropower and water resources clients and project activity.

Mead & Hunt is an architecture and engineering consulting firm with about 450 employees in 23 offices in the U.S.

Kooser joins Gomez and Sullivan as senior ecologist

Jim Kooser has joined Gomez and Sullivan Engineers P.C. as a senior environmental scientist at its Utica, N.Y. office.

Kooser will be responsible for various ecological projects, including wetland assessment, restoration and monitoring; environmental permitting; watershed evaluations; rare/threatened/endangered species impact assessments and protection; and electric and gas rights-of-way management, including vegetation inventories for electrical transmission.

Kooser has more than 25 years of experience in terrestrial and plant biology and is an expert in wetland and ecological issues. Before joining Gomez and Sullivan, Kooser worked for URS Corporation. He has performed field studies, data analysis and project management for a variety of natural resource evaluation projects.

Gomez and Sullivan is a water resources engineering and environmental science firm with services geared toward the energy and natural resource sectors.

Roy joins Quantis as vice president communications

Michele Roy is vice president communications and senior consultant for consulting firm Quantis in Canada.

Roy is responsible for managing the company’s internal and external communications and assisting its clients in implementation of life cycle management strategies and tools.

Before joining Quantis, Roy was vice president of communications and public affairs for a Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. She also has been responsible for North American corporate communications functions for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Quantis is a life cycle assessment consulting firm specializing in supporting companies to measure, understand and manage the environmental impacts of their products, services and operations. Quantis has offices in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland and France.

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