Clark Public Utilities CEO Nelson gets 4 percent pay increase

Board acts after reviewing job performance, salary surveys

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Clark Public Utilities' CEO and general manager, Wayne Nelson, received a salary increase of 4 percent Tuesday in a unanimous decision by the utility's commissioners. That means Nelson's salary goes up by $10,000 — from $235,000 per year to $245,000 per year. Commissioners made the increase effective July 1, handing Nelson a retroactive pay bump of roughly $2,500. His $400-per-month car allowance stays the same.

The commissioners' decision came after they reviewed Nelson's job performance and after they examined salary surveys of comparable utilities in the region and across the United States.

Under Nelson's leadership, the utility "has been nationally recognized for its outstanding system reliability, stable rates and award-winning customer service," Nancy Barnes, commission president, said in a news release. She also said: "The utility runs lean, with fewer employees and a lower operating cost per customer than any other utility in the state."

The median base salary for similar positions is $260,000, as determined by Seattle firm Milliman, according to the utility.

Nelson last received a salary increase in December 2012, when commissioners raised his pay by $10,000, from $225,000 to $235,000, a 4 percent increase. The increase was retroactive to July 1, 2012.

Nelson's annual reviews are set for July 1, "based on performance, with the understanding that if commissioners decide to do a salary adjustment in a given year, it is retroactive to July 1," Lena Wittler, a utility spokeswoman, said in an email to The Columbian.

This year, the utility received recognition from J.D. Power — a global market research firm — for the highest customer satisfaction ranking for residential electric service among midsize electricity providers in the western United States.

It was the sixth consecutive year Clark Public Utilities won that recognition.

Nelson has been CEO and general manager of Clark Public Utilities since January 1999. He joined the utility in 1989 as general counsel. The public utility has 358 full-time employees and provides electricity to more than 185,000 residential and business customers in Clark County. It also has 31,340 residential water customers in unincorporated areas.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com