Grant PUD Milestones


November 4, 1930
People of the State of Washington passed Initiative No.1. This law extended the concept of city light and/or water services to a county light and/or water service.

November 8, 1938
A Grange delegation petitioned the Grant County Commissioners to form PUD No. 2. Grant County PUD No. 2 was created by a majority vote of 2,166 to 828. Grant County PUD No. 1, which was previously created to serve just a portion of the county, was absorbed into the new, county-wide utility. 

December 21, 1938
First organizational meeting of Public Utility District No. 2 was held in Hartline. 

October/December 1939
The Grant PUD commission authorized W.S. McCrea Co., consulting engineer, to study and perform services necessary to institute condemnation proceedings against the Washington Water Power Company (WWP) and others for acquisition of their properties. A month later, they authorized the acquisition of WWP facilities by purchase or condemnation and authorized the issuance of revenue bonds not to exceed $300,000.


February 18, 1941
The Grant PUD Commission authorized the PUD's engineer and attorneys to investigate the possibility of acquiring the privately-owned electric utility systems in Coulee City and Soap Lake and uniting them with a Rural Electrification Administration Project.

June 1941
William Long was appointed first manager of Grant PUD. 

August 19, 1941
Grant County PUD joins the Public Utility District's Research and Information Services (later changed to the Washington PUD Association - WPUDA).

October/December 1941
The Grant PUD Commission authorized the application of a Rural Electrification Loan (REA) loan to finance construction of approximately 440 miles of electric distribution lines in Grant and Douglas counties and to pay for the Coulee City and Soap Lake electric systems. The REA approved a $600,000 Revenue Bond loan. Ultimately, Grant PUD gave $241,000 of the loan to Douglas County PUD so they could build in their own county. 

January 20, 1942
Grant PUD purchased Mr. C. Weller's Coulee City Grant County Power Company for $19,753.73

January 30, 1942
Grant PUD purchased Soap Lake Utilities from Mr. Paul Fowler for $25,046.50. In May Grant PUD moved its office to Soap Lake . At that time, there were four employees (bookkeeper, maintenance man, lineman, and the manager), 24 miles of line and 511 customers. 

December 6, 1943
Grant PUD commissioners unanimously accept IBEW Local Union No. 77 agreement. 

December 1944
A 17-day condemnation trial ended with favorable verdict for Grant PUD over Washington Water Power for purchase of its facilities in Grant County for $546,984.80

March 26, 1945
Manager William Long resigns and Glen Smothers of Sandpoint, Idaho accepts position as manager of Grant PUD for a wage of $350 a month.

June 1945
Grant PUD moves its offices to Ephrata. 

June 14, 1945
Grant PUD takes over operation of Washington Water Power (WWP) facilities in Grant County. The PUD retained several WWP employees, increasing total employees to 17.

November 1945
The commission authorizes Grant PUD to enter into contracts with Bonneville Power Association for wholesale power.

December 1945
Robert Ries was hired as chief engineer and a contract was awarded for the construction of 197 miles of rural power lines. 

April 1946
The BPA began construction of a 110,000 volt transmission line to serve Grant PUD from a site just south of Ephrata on Dodson Road and another site north of Moses Lake on Stratford Road. 

May 1946
Grant PUD began to offer and promote a special rate for experimental electric heating devices. Because buildings were not adequately insulated, the electric heating methods weren't successful. It was soon discovered that if installed under proper conditions (added insulation), the devices were economical and a good load builder. Grant PUD was the first electric utility in the state to offer a special rate for electric heating devices.

August 17, 1946
The Grant PUD Commission authorized an increase of 5 cents an hour for hourly employees and $9 per month for all monthly paid employees. Grant PUD had 30 employees and served 2,506 customers.

May 2, 1947
Attorney Nat Washington was employed by the Grant PUD on a retainer of $100 a month. In January 1948, his retainer was increased to $175 a month

August 4, 1947
Property was purchased between A & B streets SE in Ephrata on which a storage building for warehouse purposes was erected. A fenced storage yard was added to secure poles, transformers and other large pieces of equipment.

July 1948
The first FM mobile radio equipment was purchased and was deployed. The system included a base station in Ephrata and mobile units installed in six utility vehicles. The transmitter was located on Beasley Hill in the Grant County Sheriff's Radio Building.

July 2, 1948
Grant PUD worked out a satisfactory agreement with Washington Water Power to wheel Bonneviille Power Administration power across Washington Water Power lines throughout locations in Grant County.

July 16, 1948
Grant PUD commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of $680,000 revenue bonds for the purchase of Washington Water Power Company properties in Hartline, Warden and Smyrna for $110,000; the construction of a two-story office building in Ephrata at the cost of approximately $125,000; construction of an office building in Moses Lake at the cost of approximately $25,000 as well as other additions to the growing system.

April 29, 1949
The Grant PUD Commission signed a contact with radio station KSEM-Moses Lake for a series of 52 half-hour weekly broadcasts that began on Sunday afternoon, May 1.

May 9, 1949
The new Moses Lake Grant PUD office building was complete. 

June 13, 1949
A landmark meeting was held at the Grant County Courthouse with representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the District and Grant County to work out procedures that would enable Grant PUD to build power lines to new settlers in irrigation blocks.

September 12, 1949
Bids were opened and awarded the same day for the construction of the Ephrata Grant PUD office. The building was designed to be heated entirely by electricity by means of a heat pump. This was one of the first systems of its kind installed in a commercial building in the Pacific Northwest. The building was designed for two stories, but only the first story and full basement were built under the first contracts. Staff moved into the new office on May 1, 1950.

November 1949
Clint Prescott of Spokane encouraged Grant PUD commissioners to purchase land at Priest Rapids that was for sale by the Washington Irrigation and Development Company land for $275,000. A motion was made and tabled.


April 17, 1951
Representatives of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce appeared before the Grant PUD Board of Commissioners and asked the PUD to consider constructing a dam at Priest Rapids. The federal government and cities of Seattle and Tacoma had also expressed interest in doing the same.

August 4, 1951
The opening ceremonies for the new Quincy Office building were held.

Fall 1951
The United States Defense Electric Production Administration (DEPA) sent a letter to all electric utilities in the nation urging curtailment of power use. Grant PUD manager Glen Smothers sent letter as such to all chambers of commerce in the county. The power shortage prompted a decision to move forward with making an offer to purchase the Washington Irrigation and Development Company from the American Power and Light Company for land near Priest Rapids.

May 26, 1952
Grant PUD commissioners passed a resolution to begin condemnation proceedings to acquire Washington Irrigation and development Company lands at Priest Rapids. 

July 17, 1952
An application for a temporary permit to build the Priest Rapids Project was signed and sent to the Federal Power Commission.

January 17, 1953
Harza engineering report results recommended a study be done to determine the desirability of two low-head dams instead of one high dam at Priest Rapids.

July 14, 1954
Grant PUD commissioners accepted a proposal by Harza Engineering Company for the planning required before the PUD could apply for a license from the Federal Power Commission.

August 20, 1954
A panel conference was held at the Ephrata Recreation Building to consider the possibility of the Priest Rapids Project being constructed by either the State Power Commission, a group of municipal utilities operating under a joint operating agency, or Grant PUD.

July 22, 1954
The Washington State Power Commission filed an application with the Federal Power Commission for a preliminary permit to construct the Priest Rapids Project, in opposition to Grant PUD's application for a preliminary permit.

August 2, 1954
Attorney Nat Washington is authorized to protest to the Federal Power Commission against the preliminary permit filed by the Washington State Power Commission for the development of power at the Priest Rapids site.

August 20, 1954
A panel conference was called by Grant PUD, held at the Ephrata Recreation Center, to evaluate plans for building the Priest Rapids Project. Experts in engineering, legal and financial matters answered questions regarding the best method to get the dam under way the quickest way possible. Over 300 people attended the meeting. 

September 16, 1954
A lawsuit is filed in Superior Court in Ephrata against the Washington State Power Commission (WSPC) to, among other things, determine if the acts of the WSPC in interfering with the District's efforts to construct the Priest Rapids Project were illegal, and to determine the right of Grant PUD to build the project.

September 25, 1954
Grant PUD was granted a temporary restraining order to keep the WSPC from interfering with its plans to construct the Priest Rapids Project. The WSPC appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

October 21, 1954
The Federal Power Commission issued Grant PUD a preliminary permit covering Project 2114, known as the Priest Rapids Project.

November 8, 1954
A contract with Boyles Brothers Drilling Company for subsurface excavation of the Priest Rapids site was executed. From this point forward, Grant PUD Commission meetings were held weekly.

December 6, 1954
Grant PUD hired the firm of H. Zinder and Associates to carry on the transmission, load integration and market studies of the power to be produced at Priest Rapids Dam.

May 12, 1955
A delegation of Wanapum Indians in full regalia attended the commission meeting to receive a copy of a resolution naming the upper dam Wanapum. A copy of the resolution was presented to Puck-Hyah-Toot, Chief of the Wanapum who expressed his pleasure and gratification at the honorable naming of the upper dam after his people. 

June 27, 1955
Grant PUD manager Glen Smothers personally delivered to the Federal Power Commission in Washington, DC the PUD's application for a license to build and operate the Priest Rapids Project.

September 7, 1955
A meeting was held in Ephrata with all Washington utilities that had expressed an interest in Priest Rapids Power. Attending this meeting were representatives from Seattle City Light, Tacoma City Light, Puget Sound Power & Light, Washington Water Power, and Pacific Power & Light Company. The purpose of the meeting included a review of the proposed allocation of power from the project and the "slice-of-cake" terms and conditions of sales.

November, 1955
Grant PUD accepted the terms of Public Law 544 which de-authorized the Priest Rapids Project as a Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army project and authorized Grant PUD to build it. This law granted the PUD the same privileges in acquiring lands, easements, etc., that the U.S, Government has. 

November 4, 1955
The Federal Power Commission issued Grant PUD a license to build and operate the Priest Rapids Project. The license specified that the PUD must begin work on Priest Rapids Dam on or before July 1, 1956 and complete work on it on or before July 1, 1958. It also specified that work on Wanapum Dam must begin on or before June 30, 1960 and be completed on or before June 30, 1962. In June 1956 the district received an extension from the FPC changing the commencement to on or before July 1, 1958.

February 10, 1956
A call for bids for construction of Priest Rapids Dam was published in The Grant County Journal.

March 12, 1956
Bid opening commenced for the construction of Priest Rapids Dam. The auditorium in the Ephrata office was filled to overflowing as bidders and interested citizens gathered for the proceedings. Five bids were open and read.

**The construction contract was called a "turn-key" job as the specifications included the construction of the dam and powerhouse as well as furnishing and installing the turbines, generators, transformers, cranes and other major items needed to complete the job.

There was a penalty clause in the contract covering the loss of power should the contractor not complete the project on schedule. The penalty amounted to debt service on the outstanding bonds. The contractor could not claim an extension for any occurrence outside of earthquake or war.

Meritt-Chapman & Scott submitted the low bid amount of $91.887 million. 

May 21, 1956
A resolution authorizing the execution of the Priest Rapids Project Power Sales Contracts was read and passed by the Grant PUD Commission.

June 18, 1956
A wheeling agreement for power over Bonneville Power Association lines to the power purchasers was worked out and a resolution passed entering Grant PUD into a three-way wheeling agreement.

June 26, 1956
Grant PUD commissioners approved a contract between Grant County and a contractor to build an access road from Beverly to the Priest Rapids Project site (a distance of approximately 18 miles). The road was a vital need for the project to commence so that cofferdam work could begin at the site. 

June 30, 1956
Grant PUD commissioners and attorney Nat Washington flew to New York for a bond signing. The bond issue, in the amount of $166 million was in thousand-dollar denominations requiring that 166,000 bonds be signed. This was done on signature machines that would apply a signer's name to 20 bonds at a time. It took one week to sign and deliver the bonds and receive the money from the underwriters. 

July 9, 1956
The construction contract with Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation to build Priest Rapids Dam was executed. 

Early August 1956
Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation began general hiring of construction workers to work on Priest Rapids Dam.

July 17, 1956
Grant PUD along with 16 other PUD's in the state formed the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPS).

August 3, 1956
Grant PUD hired the first biologist, Mr. Fred Davidson, on a five year contract at a salary of $12,000 a year, plus expenses, to assist the PUD in the resolution of numerous and extensive fish and game issues arising from the construction of the Priest Rapids Project. Before his work was done, the contract was extended twice for a total of seven additional years.

August 17, 1956
Grant PUD commissioners agree to purchase the old Hanford Hydroelectric plant and related facilities. Facilities included diversion works, waterway, intake gates, transformers, and related facilities including three houses for operators and the domestic water system.

* Built in 1907-1908 by the Hanford Irrigation and Power Company, this was the first hydroelectric plant built on the Columbia River. It was built to provide electric power for an irrigation plant which the company developed in the Hanford area. Power from the plant was stepped up in voltage at a small substation located downstream. Some of the power was transmitted at 12,540 volts across the river to Beverly and the remained transmitted at 66,000 volts south over an all-aluminum line which terminated at the Pacific Power and Light Company's substation at Vernita.

April 25, 1957
Governor Albert Rosellini turned a valve starting the first concrete pour at Priest Rapids Dam.

February 11, 1959
The first electric power was generated at Priest Rapids Dam when six generators were accepted for operation.

May 15, 1959
A bid opening for work on Wanapum Dam was held with five bidders participating. Five different companies bid on the project. The bid of Grant County Constructors for $93.276 million was the lowest. 

June 22, 1959
Wanapum Power Sales contracts were read and adopted. 

June 29, 1959
The Grant PUD Commission authorized the first wheeling agreement with Bonneville Power and Puget Sound Power and Light. 

June 30, 1959
Bankers present a written offer to purchase the proposed Wanapum Hydroelectric Revenue Bonds in the principal amount of $182.155 million. 

November 9, 1959
Grant PUD enters into an agreement with Kittitas County and Grant County Contractors to relocate a road on the west bank of the river between Wanapum Dam and Vantage. The old road would be inundated and the new road used for transportation to and from the new dam site. 

December 21, 1959
Grant PUD adopts a resolution formerly creating a five-member board. The first meeting convened by the five-member board was held on January 4, 1960.



May 16, 1960
Bids were accepted for the construction of a six-classroom elementary school at Wanapum Village.

January 17, 1961
President Eisenhower and Canadian Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker signs the Columbia River Treaty. The terms of the final agreement were signed by the U.S. and Canada on January 22, 1964 (Treaty ratification by the Canadian Parliament was delayed for three years). The treaty required building three storage reservoirs in Canada (Mica, Hugh Keenleyside and Duncan) and the option to build a fourth (Libby) in the United States. The treaty did not specify an end date. Instead, either country has the option, with 10 years’ notice, to terminate the treaty after September 2024. On September 16, 1964, President Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Pearson signed the treaty protocols completing the treaty ratification.

March 19, 1962
The Grant PUD Commission authorizes the sale of the Mattawa school building to the Wahluke School District for $7,065. The school had been built by the PUD to accommodate children of Priest Rapids Dam workers who lived in Mattawa. With dam construction complete, the school was no longer needed.

June 2, 1962
Priest Rapids Dam was dedicated. United States Secretary of Commerce, Luther Hodges was the keynote speaker. Approximately 900 people attended.

December 17, 1962
Grant PUD commissioners established the office of treasurer and appointed Ross Freer of Ephrata to fill the office. Prior to this appointment, the Grant County Treasurer had been serving as ex officio treasurer. This had been a provision of the PUD law passed in 1930.

May 21, 1963
The filling of the Wanapum pool behind Wanapum Dam began at noon. The 38-mile long reservoir was filled in about 48 hours.

May 27, 1963
The Grant PUD Commission passes a resolution awarding an $872,000 contract for the building of the maintenance center located at Wanapum Dam.

July 29, 1963
Grant PUD commissioners pass resolution to execute an agreement with the Washington State Game Department. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, the PUD deeded 2,100 acres of land along the Priest Rapids Project to the Department of Game. The PUD also agreed to make funds available for improving and maintaining the land.

September 16, 1963
An agreement between the PUD and the Washington State Department of Fisheries was drafted. This agreement called for the construction, operation and maintenance of a spawning channel near Priest Rapids Dam.

January 18, 1964
The tenth and last generator went into production at Wanapum Dam. This made Grant PUD the third largest, non-federal producer of hydroelectric power in the nation.

Aug 13, 1964
The Purchase Agreement, Exchange Agreement, Entitlement Allocation Agreement, and Pacific Northwest Coordination Agreement were signed.

November 30, 1964
Grant PUD commissioners authorized an agreement with the Washington State Game Department purchase a 12-mile strip of land along lower Crab Creek, south of Smyrna for the use of a public fishing and game-bird hunting site. Grant PUD provided $118,000 of the $310,000 price of the property.

June 28, 1965
The Grant PUD Commission authorizes a call for bids to build the Wanapum Heritage Center at Wanapum Dam. Gilbert Moen of Yakima submitted the low bid of $263,400. On August 2, 1965 the commission awarded the contract. 

June 4, 1966
Wanapum Dam is dedicated. Activities focused around the new heritage center which was being opened to the public for the first time. Approximately 1,900 people were in attendance at the ceremony.

December 5, 1966
Grant PUD commissioners adopt a resolution providing for a policy for continuing education for PUD employees who desire to do so. Reimbursement to any employee for completing an approved course of study was limited to $300 per calendar year.

April 22, 1967
A new 6,000 kVA combination substation and switching station near Wilson Creek was energized.

June 1967
The silver anniversary report on the Grant County PUD was published. The report covered the 25 year period from January 1942, when the PUD first started operating in Coulee City and Soap Lake, until January of 1967. Over 100 historic photographs were included in this report.

July 1, 1969
Grant PUD purchased the Grand Coulee electric system, which serves Grand Coulee, Electric City and the surrounding areas in northern Grant County, for $570,000. The district began serving all of Grant County, except for a few farms in the Hartline area.


January 1970
Grant PUD had 310 employees.

September 1, 1971
The new Wheeler Substation began delivering electricity to industrial customers along the Wheeler corridor near Moses Lake.

October 1971
Grant PUD had 19,263 customers with over 1,800 irrigation accounts. The average annual residential use is more than 21,000 kilowatt hours, more than three times the national average.

January 11, 1972
A wind-storm, with gusts over 100 miles per hour, blew down four towers on the Wanapum-Priest Rapids 230 kV line.

June 1972
The new Potholes Substation, located 10 miles west of Moses Lake, began primarily servicing irrigation pump loads in the area.

April 1973
Grant PUD serves nearly 20,000 customers and has 322 employees.

September 1, 1975
Larry Peterson was appointed Grant PUD general manager by the Board of Commissioners.

The Ephrata Service Center is completed and dedicated in honor of Bill Schempp’s service to the Grant PUD.



October 25, 1982
John McMahan was appointed Grant PUD general manager by the Board of Commissioners.

November 1982
Vera Claussen was the first woman elected to the Grant PUD board of commissioners.

October 1, 1985
The Quincy Chute hydroelectric project made its first commercial power output. The facility is operated by Grant PUD under agreement with the Grand Coulee Project Hydroelectric Authority and has a rated generating capacity of 9.4 megawatts.



September 1, 1990
The first commercial operation of the Potholes East Canal Headworks hydroelectric project began. The facility is operated by Grant PUD under agreement with the Grand Coulee Project Hydroelectric Authority and has a rated generating capacity of 6.5 megawatts.

December 1, 1991
Jerry Rupke was appointed Grant PUD general manager by the Board of Commissioners.

March 2, 1992
Donald Godard was appointed Grant PUD general manager by the Board of Commissioners.



February 14, 2000
The Grant PUD commissioners authorized construction and testing of a full-size, prototype of the new advanced turbines that will be installed in Wanapum Dam.

February, 2001
A total of 43 test customers were trying out the new Grant PUD Zipp fiber network.

March 15, 2004
The Grant PUD Board of Commissioners appointed Tim Culbertson as general manager.

October 16, 2004
An 80-ton turbine shaft, forged in Romania, was delivered to Wanapum Dam to begin the turbine-replacement project.

December 31, 2006
Commissioner Vera Claussen retired after serving for 13 years as a Grant PUD commissioner.

January 6 to 8, 2007
High winds in the Quincy, George and Royal City areas blew down power lines, snapped power poles and knocked out electricity to thousands of customers. Within two days, power was restored to all but 55 customers.

November 1, 2007
The Grant PUD Commissioners approved a 20-percent discount for low-income customers who are seniors or disabled. The customers must have incomes that are less than 150 percent of the poverty guidelines.

April 17, 2008
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission awarded Grant PUD a new 44-year hydropower license to operate the Priest Rapids Project.

May 1, 2008
The Wanapum Fish Bypass Unit, a $35 million project, became operational. The large 290-foot chute, allows migrating juvenile salmon a safer passage over Wanapum Dam, while conserving water for generating capacity.

January 2009
Grant PUD Commissioners took action to authorize a $150 million project with Alstom Hydro US, Inc., for replacement of the 10 generators at Wanapum Dam.



February 17, 2010
Grant PUD’s Fiber Optic Network celebrated the 5,000th customer to sign up for service on the high-capacity broadband connection through a local Internet Service Provider.

April 26, 2010
Grant PUD commissioners voted to allow a 50-year lease with the Port of Quincy to expire on June 1, 2012 as part of a plan to transition the island to full public access. Sublease holders on the island filed a subsequent lawsuit in federal court challenging the decision. The litigation is still ongoing.

November 15, 2010
Grant PUD agreed to a partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Bonneville Power Administration to build the $43 million Chief Joseph Hatchery near Bridgeport, Wash. The hatchery will become operational in 2013.

June 2012
Construction began on the Priest Rapids Dam Fish Bypass Unit. The $28 million project will convert three spillway bays on the dam to chutes that will use a minimal amount of water to safely pass juvenile salmon over the dam. The project is expected to be finished in 2014.

October 2012
Construction began on the Columbia to Rocky Ford 230 kV line. The $38 million high-capacity transmission line runs 35.3 miles between the Columbia and Rocky Ford substations.

May 23, 2012
The Cove, a renovated public-use recreational facility owned by Grant PUD and built at the location of Getty’s Cove, between Vantage and Wanapum Dam opened to the public.

August 17, 2012
A ground-breaking ceremony for the new Wanapum Heritage Center was held at the location for the new facility near Priest Rapids Dam. The new 50,000 square-foot center has a budget of $20 million. It will feature exhibit space, a repository, collection facility, library, a language center and staff offices to help preserve Wanapum culture.

January 28, 2013
Tony Webb was appointed by the board of commissioners to the position of Grant PUD general manager. Webb began working for the PUD in 1990.

April 18, 2013
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Grant PUD’s Shoreline Management Plan, which gives a blueprint of how Grant PUD will make upgrades and operate the shoreline along the Priest Rapids Project area.

May 24, 2013
The renovated Priest Rapids Recreation Area in Desert Aire was opened to the public by Grant PUD with upgrades to the docks, parking and swimming areas, hiking trails and boat launches.

October 28, 2013
Grant PUD celebrates the completion of its Advanced Turbine Replacement Project at Wanapum Dam. The project included the replacement of all 10 of the dam's original turbines.

February 27, 2014
A fracture was discovered on the Wanapum Dam Spillway. The fracture, below the water line on the upstream side of the dam, ran across the 65-foot width of one of the 13 spillway-pier monoliths. Grant PUD reduced the pressure behind the dam, by lowering the Wanapum reservoir by 26 feet.

December 1, 2014
After receiving approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Grant PUD was able to raise the level of the reservoir behind Wanapum Dam by 17 feet after the utility completed enough work on the Wanapum Dam spillway to strengthen and stabilize the structure.

January 7, 2015
The Wanapum Reservoir and most of the shoreline was reopened to the public after it had been closed for nine months because of hazardous conditions and unstable shorelines when the reservoir was drawn down 26 feet in response to Wanapum Dam.

June 3, 2016
Kevin Nordt, who had been serving as the Chief Financial Officer for Grant PUD, was appointed to General Manager of the utility. Former general manager, Tony Webb, stepped down to take the position of Assistant General Manager.