UEC’s CEO Honored with Excellence in Engineering Or Operations Award

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Umatilla Electric Cooperative CEO and General Manager Robert Echenrode, center, is the recipient of the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) Excellence in Engineering Or Operations Award for 2024. (Contributed photo)

Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) announced today that General Manager and CEO
Robert Echenrode has been honored with the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) Excellence in Engineering Or Operations Award for 2024.

The NWPPA Excellence in Engineering Or Operations Award, also known as the Milton Hunt
McGuire Award, is the most prestigious award for a utility employee to receive in the areas of engineering or operations, given by NWPPA. Because of the high caliber of requirements to receive the award, it is not given out every year. The award honors an NWPPA member utility employee that has made a contribution to the industry as a whole. Examples of award-winning industry contributions include engineering or operational innovations; participation in and/or leadership on industry standards or issues; and rising up to the myriad of opportunities presented by the issues and challenges the industry has faced.

“We are honored to present Robert Echenrode with this award for his visionary approach,
success in managing growth, and forward-thinking mindset in agricultural and industrial development,” says Kurt Miller, executive director of NWPPA. “These qualities have positioned Robert as a luminary in the Northwest and beyond.”

Echenrode was formally presented with the award during the NWPPA Engineering & Operations Conference on April 11 in Tacoma, Wash.

Louis Toth, director emeritus of Toth & Associates, Inc. nominated Echenrode for the award.

“With a remarkable career spanning 36 years across four electric cooperatives, Robert has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovative thinking, and an unwavering
commitment to advancing the engineering and operations sector of the electric utility industry,” Toth said.

“I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand Robert’s exceptional contributions to our
organization and the utility industry,” said Josh Lankford, vice president of engineering and operations at UEC. “His technical expertise and strategic insights have played a pivotal role in advancing UEC’s capabilities and fostering significant economic growth in our region.”

Through Echenrode’s efforts, UEC has implemented innovative solutions to serve members
of the cooperative. Since Echenrode took the helm in 2016, the cooperative has increased power sales by nearly 300 percent, added over 20 permanent substations and switchyards and five mobile substations. The cooperative contributes its significant growth and investments in infrastructure to the leadership of Echenrode through the agricultural and industrial growth in eastern Oregon.

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