In support for Brian Silverstein for OPALCO board of directors | Letters

With the important OPALCO election coming up, much is at stake. In the face of rising costs, a changing utility landscape, expensive submarine cables and fiber optic installations, we believe Brian Silverstein is the right person to help our electric coop navigate a challenging path to keep electricity bills affordable and fair, manage coop finances transparently, and encourage conservation & renewable energy. With these big issues surrounding us and on the horizon, competent, level-headed and democratic leadership is more important than ever.

Brian understands the Northwest utility landscape deeply, having recently retired as senior vice president of transmission at the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). OPALCO purchases nearly all of its electricity from BPA and BPA’s legacy hydropower is a limited and precious resource in an expanding economy. For these reasons it will be extremely useful to have someone on the OPALCO board who deeply understands the BPA as well as utility rate setting, regulation, finance and risk.

As an OPALCO member, Brian has been a steady voice of reason at board meetings, and in particular has advocated for rate designs that meet OPALCO’s increasing revenue requirements while fairly treating all types of customers, including low-income and vulnerable population. Brian is intelligent, very willing to listen, and has a generous public spirit. We are lucky that he is running and he deserves our vote.

Chris & Chom Greacen

Lopez Island


I was raised on Orcas; my mother (Carol Clark) and my sister and brother-in-law (Susan and John Fleischer), all of whom still live on our farm near West Sound, are OPALCO members.

I was in the electric power industry for over 30 years before retiring. During 10 of those years, I was employed by OPALCO’s supplier, Bonneville Power Administration. Thus I’ve known Brian since 1984. He and I worked closely together on a number of power and transmission projects, and I have the utmost respect for his knowledge, skills and abilities.

For 11 years after leaving BPA, I was the head of a trade association consisting of 114 public power utilities in the four state region (WA, OR, ID and MT). My organization’s job was to present, in a single voice, public power’s messages to BPA. The issues ranged from rates to conservation to saving fish and more. During those years, because he understood public power’s interests, I often sought Brian’s advice on matters such as transmission services for small utilities like OPALCO. He listened to our needs and offered solutions.

I also know that Brian has the temperament, long-range vision and sense of humor that will add a great deal of value to the board.

Jerry Leone

Part-time Lopez Resident


I am writing this letter to all OPALCO members to discuss my support of Brian Silverstein for one of the District 3 Director positions.

Brian’s resume, which you can read on the OPALCO website speaks for itself. I think it is fortunate for us that someone with his work experience with OPALCO’s provider of energy is not only willing but eager to put his experience to work in helping solve the issues that confront us. Difficult challenges are now the norm for OPALCO, and every Co-op, PUD and utility company. I observe these challenges and opportunities through the lens of my involvement with renewable energy, both at home and in the county at large.

There are so many interesting and amazing things going on in the American utility sector now, the game is breaking wide open including more options for homeowners and businesses. Like everyone, I am concerned with the rates, but I see them through my personal lens of how the structure either helps or hinders the deployment of renewables. I believe that more renewables are better, because when they are tied with the OPALCO grid it makes the County more disaster-resilient.

Rate design is a wonky issue that has very painful impacts on our fellow islanders. There must be affordable power for all of us, and somehow, that objective must be made to dovetail with the very rapid changes in storage and transmission technology that increasingly spell doom for the old utility business models. OPALCO cannot go out of business, but it cannot dodge the future.

You can read what Brian has to say about “key issues.” Those rate design issues he mentions, wonky and difficult as they are, are the very heart of the issue of OPALCO’s survivability. Brian has suggested alternative rate designs that better balance the needs of all members including those who have installed renewables. We need relentless innovation in this matter.

I commend Brian highly to you and urge your support for him.

Rick Strachan

Lopez Island