​​​​​​​During a collaborative working group meeting in 2019, utility general managers from across Washington state realized the growing need for additional focus on developing the future workforce for public utilities. 


Specifically, the group noted a need for additional qualified engineers who are interested in working in the public power industry. 

The need is demonstrated by numerous engineering openings at multiple utilities throughout the region. Their discussion centered on various aspects of the talent pipeline process and the importance of providing robust internship experiences to yield highly talented workers.  

The GM group decided to address this challenge by working together and investing in the workforce development of engineers in the college pipeline. As a result, Energy Northwest, established an internship advisory group consisting of several public utilities committed to advancing the industry's efforts to build a stronger talent pipeline. Through this advisory team, the Public Power Internship Program was created.​​

The Public Power Internship Program is a workforce development program designed to encourage, attract, and increase the number of students and professionals interested in the Pacific Northwest public power industry. The program's intent is to build connections with students through on-campus activities such as mentoring and support, while also reaching student groups through a range of social media platforms. These engagement efforts are designed with diversity and inclusion built in. This program improves the effectiveness of the intern identification, selection and onboarding process for utilities. Unique opportunities such as utility tours and workshops will introduce the students to the diversity of public power.

The program is initially focusing on engineering internship opportunities and expects to expand to additional fields beginning as early as the fall of 2022. 

The advisory committee consists of representatives from the following public power utilities: 

  • Klickitat County PUD​
  • City of Richland Energy Services
  • Okanogan County PUD
  • Clallam County PUD
  • Mason County PUD 3 
  • Seattle City Light
  • Benton PUD

Energy Northwest received a Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development (DEED) grant from the American Public Power Association (APPA) to support program development through the 2020-2021 academic year, and into the 2021-2022 academic year. The grant multiplies the investments of the participating utilit​ies. Additionally, Energy Northwest will provide program information to APPA for distribution to other DEED members as a roadmap for others to follow.

Contact:
Sarah Giomi
Internship Coordinator
smgiomi@energy-northwest.com