John Whalen, a former long-time Mason County PUD No. 3 commissioner and Belfair resident, passed away on November 26 at the age of 94.
Whalen was swept into office in 1983 in a special election to fill two positions on the PUD board. Two commission spots were vacated by a recall election over financial obligations related to the failed Washington Public Power Supply System nuclear power plant program.
Whalen retired from the PUD 3 commission in December of 2008 after serving 25 years. He was replaced on the board by Tom Farmer, an Allyn-area businessman.
In announcing Whalen’s passing, Farmer said at today’s (November 27) commission meeting that the person he succeeded was a brave and strong man and that he will be missed.
During Whalen’s multiple terms, the PUD
· Increased its commitment to energy conservation.
· Instituted the “Project Share” program to assist financially distressed customers.
· Helped form a cost-effective self-insurance pool with other public utility districts.
· Emphasized a commitment to customer communications and outreach.
· Introduced the budget billing plan for customers.
· Worked diligently to control its budget and financial management to minimize rate impacts on customers while maintaining safe & reliable service.
· Was granted, along with other public utility districts, authorization by the Washington State legislature to provide wholesale telecommunications services to their communities.
· Connected its substations and other facilities via a fiber optic network,
· Began the planning process and the purchase of property which eventually led to the construction of PUD 3’s Johns Prairie operations center.
In 2005 he received special commendation from the Washington PUD Association for his years of service to Public Power. He served for many years on the Public Power Council executive committee and was a long-time member of the Public Utilities Risk Management Services (PURMS) board.
Whalen was well regarded by his peers in the Pacific Northwest energy community for his passion for public power utilities and the important role they play in the everyday lives of the customers they serve.
Photo of John Whalen, taken at a PUD 3 function in 2008