The Grand River Dam Authority board will be seeing a lot more of a familiar Wagoner face. The Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma’s Board of Directors recently elected Wagoner City Administrator Dwayne Elam as their Executive Director and appointed him to the GRDA board. The mission statement for GRDA outlines their dedication to the five E’s of excellence: Electricity, Economic Development, Efficiency, Environmental Stewardship and Employees, a statement that Elam said he believes he upholds on a daily basis.
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen by my peers in this profession to serve as the Executive Director of MESO and to represent them on the GRDA board,” said Elam. “Years of being on the other side of that table has allowed me to understand the intricate needs of GRDA communities and I believe I can be an asset to the board in moving forward to provide significant assistance in guiding public power conversations into the future.”
Public power is a rare commodity that allows communities to reinvest in themselves by partnering with agencies like GRDA.
“The resources GRDA provides to cities with a smaller municipal staff is much appreciated and is a true representation of the good that can come from a state-owned agency partnering with municipalities,” said Elam. “The quality of life for our community and other GRDA communities tie in directly with the vitality of public power.”
MESO includes 63 different public power communities throughout the state of Oklahoma as well as those 16 communities whom are directly served by the Grand River Damn Authority.
Beyond supplying electricity for public power communities such as Wagoner, GRDA is also proud to be a support system that assists communities by providing funding for various activities and events.
Mayor Albert Jones said Elam’s appointment is a great thing for Wagoner and for the GRDA.
“I'm not surprised in the least that the MESO board would select Elam for the position on the GRDA board,” said Jones. “He's done a fantastic job here in Wagoner and has a proven track record with the GRDA customer group.”
Jones said he believes Elam is one of the best managers in the state.
“He deserves the appointment,” said Jones. “He has in his heart what is best for Wagoner, and I am glad he will be taking that to the GRDA board.”
Dan Sullivan, GRDA President and Chief Executive Officer, said Elam has been a champion of public power and GRDA throughout his tenure as CEO.
“Elected by his peers, I have no doubt that Director Elam will represent them well, and I am also confident his contributions will have a positive impact across the Authority,” said Sullivan. “As a native of Wagoner, I’m proud to see my hometown represented on the GRDA board.”
Not only is Elam passionate about the job at hand, he is well equipped to represent MESO and brings other valuable assets to GRDA. Elam currently holds four Class “A” Department of Environmental Quality Operator licenses which allows him to understand the importance of the burdens GRDA is associated with due to the significance of the lakes and overall water quality.
“I understand the environmental impact on the GREC and the ability for them and other facilities to produce electricity,” said Elam. “We have to continually take into consideration the integral parts of the ecosystem and the environmental aspect of where GRDA is today.”
Thomas Rider, MESO General Manager, sent a letter to GRDA to inform them of Elam's appointment.
"With his environmental education and municipal background, we are looking forward to Mr. Elam being a valuable member of the GRDA Board with a long tenure of service representing GRDA's customer cities," said Rider.
Elam said he appreciates the vital significance that public power plays into rural/small communities and recognizes not only the challenges and upsides of a community having their own electric power staff, but also the economic benefits of public power.
“Public power allows municipalities to be able to do more within their cities that otherwise would not be attainable with just sales tax revenues alone,” said Elam. “I look forward to helping guide and direct not only that conversation, but the future of public power within Oklahoma.”
Elam thanked the GRDA Municipal Customer Group, who nominated him, as well as the MESO Board of Directors, who ultimately elected him to the position.
“It’s important that we educate more citizens within the state of Oklahoma with information on public power and how that impacts municipalities and local government,” said Elam. “Public power has a great impact on quality of life because the revenue stays local, as opposed to going to an Investor Owned Utility or Electric Cooperative.”
Elam said in an investor owned utility, such as PSO or OG&E, the electric rates go before the corporation commission to be approved because the dividends go back to their investors. Not so with public power communities who partner with agencies like GRDA. Their revenue is invested back into the community.
“GRDA is one of the biggest economic drivers in the northeast part of Oklahoma and possibly even the state of Oklahoma, having an economic impact across the region of roughly $550 million annually,” said Elam. “My hope is that we can get the citizens as well as the state of Oklahoma to realize that GRDA is a great asset that is self-sustaining on the state level and that we need to be promoting and showcasing that asset in our state.”