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Quick Fact: Staff Compensation

OPALCO conducts a thorough comparative analysis to verify that salaries are competitive within our utility industry. Hiring and retaining top notch personnel is critical to the operation of OPALCO’s complex electrical and communications systems.

  • OPALCO’s wage philosophy is directly in line with the national network of electric co-ops. OPALCO pay rates are competitive based on electric utility cooperatives in the region.
  • Utilizing technology and retaining highly talented personnel allows OPALCO to keep staffing levels flat/lower by doing more with less. OPALCO has maintained an average of 50 full time employees (FTE’s) over the last 10 years and this level of staffing is forecast to remain consistent in the upcoming years.
  • OPALCO has been fortunate to attract and hire a very talented new generation of staff in key positions and must remain competitive to retain them in an environment where utilities nationwide are scrambling to find qualified employees.
  • The wage rates of our union represented employees follow a collective bargaining agreement, which goes through its own prescribed comparison process every time the collective bargaining agreement is renewed.
  • Annual Board Review: Each year the board does a detailed and comprehensive review of OPALCO’s strategic directives and how well the General Manager (GM) and the organization is accomplishing those goals. The Board reviews GM compensation data from more than 22 cooperatives (IRS Form 990 cooperative tax filings), an industry publication listing 83 Northwest electric utilities and they commission an independent wage analysis by a compensation consultant. All three independent wage efforts have concluded that the GM’s compensation falls well within the range of competitive market practices for GMs in organizations similar in size and location.
  • OPALCO General Manager Compensation (2021 Tax Report 990) 2021 base wage is $298,047 for OPALCO and $76,533 for Rock Island. The General Manager total compensation is ~1.6% of OPALCO’s 2021 operating budget. The additional compensation mentioned on the 990 is the estimation of benefits to include medical and actuarial estimate of retirement. The salary is comparable to cooperative utilities across the region. OPALCO’s General Manager has oversight responsibility over one of the more complex and environmentally sensitive electric distribution cooperatives in the nation (serving a 20 island community via 25 submarine cables). OPALCO’s General Manager also has management responsibility over the highly successful internet subsidiary, Rock Island Communications. OPALCO’s General Manager has more than 30 years experience in the infrastructure and utility industry and holds a BS degree in Business and an MBA in Finance.
The 2021 BASE SALARY compares to other General Managers of peer electric cooperatives:
  • Average Base Salary of 10 WA Co-ops: $269,802
  • Average Base Salary of 12 OR Co-ops: $338,756
  • Average Base Salary of 22 Regional Co-ops: $307,413
  • Base Salary of Seattle City Light GM: $390,562 – 2022, $458,723 – 2023
  • Total Salary of Puget Sound Energy CEO $11,774,368 – 2019

How to read the compensation on the Form 990: https://www.opalco.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Comp-and-990-1.pdf.

updated June 2023

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