Randall Hardy, ’72, faces big challenges as head of BPA

Randall Hardy

Shall we spill water over Columbia River dams to save endangered salmon runs or shall we hold it in reserve to irrigate crops and keep the lights burning and industries running at lower cost per kilowatt hour? Where will we find the minimum of 1,500 megawatts of energy (the equivalent of one-and-a-half Trojan nuclear power plants) to meet the power needs in the rapidly growing Pacific Northwest over the decade? Should we complete those mothballed WPPSS nuclear plants? These are only a few of the challenging questions facing Randall W. Hardy, ’72, who heads the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

The UW graduate’s energy-future preferences, at least at this point in his BPA career, include a mix of conservation, generation of energy through gas-fired turbines, co-generation (generating electricity from industrial waste) and, perhaps, even wind power. He expects those infamous WPPSS plants to stay in mothballs at least until the end of the decade.

In 1991, Hardy moved up to the BPA after seven years as superintendent of Seattle City Light. He also stepped into the eye of the storm of several issues facing the Pacific Northwest, including protecting and improving salmon runs on the Columbia River system, bolstering the region’s electric power transmission grid to avoid a major power failure during the high-use winter months, and working out power exchanges with our neighbors in British Columbia and the U.S. Southwest.

Born in Lake City, Fla., Hardy is a 1966 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. It was during his military service that he earned a master’s degree in public administration at the UW.

Selected as a White House Fellow in 1975, Hardy left the Navy a year later after he and his wife, Jane, decided they didn’t want to put up with the separations military service requires. He subsequently served as executive assistant to the administrator of the Federal Energy Administration. His pre-Seattle City Light career also included stints as Puget Sound area manager for Bonneville and two years as executive director of the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference.

The BPA—one of five power marketing agencies for the U.S. Department of Energy—was created in 1937 to market and transmit power produced at the Bonneville Dam. Today the agency supplies half the hydroelectric power in the Northwest and sells widely throughout the West. Its responsibility extends to 30 federal dams and two nuclear power plants.