Seattle City (spot)Light: Melissa Skelton

Melissa Skelton has been at City Light for three and a half years. She initially served as a Legal Affairs Advisor on a small team in the General Manager’s Office, but now works in Regulatory Affairs as a strategic advisor. “I love my job. I’m in the right place at the right time,” Melissa said. “My work centers around monitoring regulatory policy issues and dockets at the federal regulatory level for matters associated with transmission and wholesale sales of power.  So, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is my main ballpark, where we look at high-level issues that affect the entire utility and engage City Light as necessary.”

Melissa was born in Washington D.C. but spent most of her life in Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas (go Jayhawks!) and earned a degree in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. “With my ecology background, it really matters to me how City Light interacts with our environment,” Melissa shared. “Everything we do (or don’t do) affects every other living thing on this planet.”

After college, she took the legal route and attended Washburn University School of Law. Melissa and her husband Joshua relocated to Seattle in 2014 and welcomed their first child, Malcolm, two years later. This past February, they welcomed their second son, Conrad.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Melissa talks about the joys of being a mother, running with elk and sailing around the world.

 

Melissa with her family.

“I love trying new things. I love to cook and travel. I like to hike, go to hot yoga, anything active. I also enjoy reading, being part of book clubs, all those types of things. What’s cool is that Joshua and I incorporate our kids into the things we like. We bought a double jogging stroller, so we take them out when we go for a run or take them hiking. We can still do a lot of the things we love and show them what we love.”

“Right now, I’m focused on running. I’m training for a 10k in September and excited to have a reason to train. It’s also helping me get back in shape after having our second baby. There are two places where I love to run. One is Meadowbrook Farm. It’s right at the base of Mount Si. It has beautiful views. There’s a big elk herd out there; you can often see them in the early morning hours. It’s neat to be out there with your thoughts and nature and run next to elk. How cool is that? The other place I like to run is Snoqualmie which is where I live. We have some bears in the neighborhood behind us. They’re black bears so they’re not aggressive but there is a mom with two babies, so you must be careful. I have a pretty fast pace when I run in the evenings around there!”

“I was fortunate to do the Semester at Sea program when I was in college, which is a semester aboard a ship sailing to ten locations all around the world. We started in Vancouver, then went to Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Croatia, Turkey, Italy, and Morocco before ending back in Miami. It was an amazing opportunity and opened my eyes to issues around the world. I’m looking forward to international travel again in the future (once the boys are out of diapers!).”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Scott Richter

Office Aide Scott Richter has worked at City Light for 20 years. As part of the Safety, Health and Wellness team, Scott helps to manage the day-to-day duties of the division.  “I’m responsible for a lot of the filing, office supply maintenance and mail deliveries,” Scott explained. “I also help with CLEA and our archives.”

Originally from Mississippi, Scott moved to Washington with his family. He’s lived here for 30 years and currently resides in Federal Way. In this week’s (spot)Light, Scott talks about his journey at City Light and shares a few of his hobbies (hint: you can find him at the movies).

Scott on a recent trip to Disneyland

“I like going to the movies. I make recommendations to others and tell people what films they should and shouldn’t see. Right now, I’m excited to see Mamma Mia 2. I liked the first movie so much and am looking forward to the new one. The music is fun; I like musicals. I also like to watch TV and play my Nintendo Switch.”

“Canada is on my bucket list. My parents and sister have visited. I also want to check out the ‘Wings Over Washington’ ride at the pier. Within the past year, I took a trip to California and visited Disneyland. I hadn’t been there since I was seven. It was nice to see all the changes and visit two parks instead of one. While I was there, I got to ride ‘Soarin’ Around the World.’ It was interesting. I want to compare that attraction to ‘Wings Over Washington’ because it focuses on local scenery.”

“I’m a sports fan. I like it all. I’ve been watching the Seattle Storm. The Sounders are trying to win some games to get into the playoffs. The Mariners are struggling but I still watch them. I support all our local teams. Once a year, I’ll go to a game at Husky Stadium.”

“I was the City’s first supported employee. During my time here, I’ve been recognized with a Light, Power and Pride award for customer service. I wish other supported employees would receive the same recognition. I think some people forget what we do and how valuable we are. We bring many years of service; there are now more than 100 supported employees throughout the City. The program has grown a lot and I’ve come a long way since I was first hired. It’s been a long road, but I now have a strong support system. The people I work with check on me, on my job tasks. They know what I’m capable of doing. There was even a time when the team asked for my opinion about hiring another supported employee. I shared my advice and they took it. It’s a good feeling.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Eugene Haller

Sr. Compliance Analyst Eugene Haller has been at City Light for two and a half years. As part of the Regulatory Affairs division, Eugene helps ensure that the utility is following government regulations. “There are quite a few regulations that are put out by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC),” Eugene explained. “All of these regulations promote electrical grid reliability. Kind of like OSHA which promotes safety. It’s the same deal on the electrical side.”

Before joining City Light, Eugene served in the Navy for nine years. During his tenure, he attended the Navy’s Nuclear Electronic Technician School. “It was a fantastic hands-on experience,” Eugene said. While in the Navy, he also attended The New School in New York state and graduated with a degree in human resources management. “My career is nowhere near the subject I studied in school,” Eugene shared with a laugh.

Eugene and his wife Kirsten are high school sweethearts who have been married for 17 years. They live in Black Diamond with their two daughters, Claire and Chloe. “Spending time with my girls is my favorite thing to do – even if it’s just picking raspberries in the backyard,” Eugene said.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Eugene talks about his time in the Navy and shares a few of his hobbies.

Eugene with his family at Rattlesnake Ridge

“Work’s been dynamic recently. The industry has been fast-paced in keeping up with technology and other advancements. We’ve been busy with different projects. We recently turned over an entire suite of standards that impact the system control center. That was substantial. Our team also helped to ensure that the Denny substation was brought in correctly on the compliance side.”

“I served as an Electronics Technician in the Navy – it’s kind of how I got started in this field. I went to South Carolina where I did some of my schooling and eventually transferred to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in Everett. From there, I went to New York where I taught for three and a half years. I absolutely loved teaching as an instructor in New York. The Navy was a great experience for me. I was able to travel the world, meet new people and learn so much from my time as an instructor and as a student. My favorite place I visited was Australia. It was a three-week port call which made for a lot of fun. The extended time gave us more opportunity to explore.”

“I still love to travel. My wife and I go camping in Nehalem Bay in Oregon. We’ve made it our annual camping trip these past five years. It’s just beautiful. The kids love playing in the creeks. My wife and I are rock hounds, so we’re always looking for interesting finds.  We like looking for agate rocks in the waters down there. Another favorite hobby of mine is shed horn hunting. It requires a lot of hiking and gets you out in the wilderness. Over the years, I’ve collected some beautiful antlers. I plan to start making items out of them. So far, I’ve made a coat rack and a towel hanger. I want to build a lamp or chandelier and maybe some furniture like a bench or stool.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Josh Walter

Josh Walter first began his City Light career as an intern in 2008. In 2009, he returned to the utility and now serves as a Strategic Advisor for the Power Contracts, Regional Affairs and Strategic Planning division. “We advocate for City Light and our resources to participate in energy markets in the West to benefit our customers,” Josh explained. “We work directly with the Bonneville Power Administration and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and try to make it easier and cost effective to bring our hydro resources into various market opportunities.”

A Montana native, Josh attended Washington State University and later transferred to Montana State University where he graduated with a degree in political science. He also spent two years in AmeriCorps and attended law school at Vermont Law School. “I started law school with the intent of studying environmental law,” Josh explained. “At the time, our school offered a new curriculum that specialized in energy. I found myself moving away from the environmental focus and spent more time on the energy law and policy side of my legal studies.”

Josh lives in South Lake Union but is moving to the Leschi neighborhood with his wife Kelly and their two children, Amelia (four years old) and Leo (ten months old). In this week’s (spot)Light, he talks about his role at the utility and shares a few of his hobbies.

Josh and his son Leo (at 8 weeks old)

“I grew up in Butte, Montana. It was everything you could want as a kid. I was surrounded by mountains and rivers and spent a lot of time outside. I’ve always enjoyed living in places that have great access to the outdoors…. Montana…. Washington…. Vermont. When I was in AmeriCorps, I served as a crew leader for the Montana Conservation Corp and spent a ton of time in Yellowstone. That was beautiful.”

“I’ve been trying as much as I can to get back into running. Historically, it’s something I’ve done quite a bit, but has just gotten harder with two kids. I like running along the waterfront. I’m also a woodworker. I do quite a bit of woodworking when I have the time. I’ve made cabinets, tables, and various other pieces of furniture. There are quite a few things floating around our house that I have made…our dining room table…cutting boards…our book shelf. Recently, I made a vanity for my parents’ home.”

In terms of his work at Seattle City Light, “our group conducts a lot of research and participates in numerous and diverse stakeholder groups. This mainly consists of utilities getting together to discuss initiatives to see where we might fit in; and for Seattle, how these potential activities will benefit our customers. For example, Bonneville or CAISO may have a new idea or a change to a current business practice. We participate to influence what the ultimate outcomes are. We’re advocating to make it better for City Light and our customers.”

“One of the great things about this work is I’m always working on something new. Things move relatively slow in the energy world, but there’s enough change in issues to keep it interesting. There’s a lot of new, innovative, interesting things to keep us intellectually stimulated. We have a great workgroup. I also like that my interest in the environment is an important theme here. I value the fact that environmental issues are a major focus of the utility.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Martha Molina

Martha Molina celebrated two-years at City Light in early June. As the Return to Work Coordinator, Martha works in the utility’s Safety division. “I act as the liaison between the Seattle Department of Human Resources and City Light’s supervisors, managers and injured workers,” Martha explained. “In my role, I help bring people back to work. Studies show that the quicker an employee returns to work following an industrial injury, the better chance they have for a 100% recovery as opposed to being away from work.”

Martha was born in Guatemala, but also lived in Los Angeles for six years before moving to Seattle. “I moved here when I was ten, so I’ve spent the greater part of my life in the Northwest,” Martha shared.  “I haven’t been to Guatemala since I was four. We have a big trip planned this summer and I can’t wait!”

Martha lives in Federal Way with her husband Mario and their two chihuahuas, Buttercup and Dixie. In this week’s (spot)Light, Martha talks about her volunteer work and how it’s applicable to her role at the utility.

A family selfie: Martha, Mario, Buttercup and Dixie

“I went to Highline College, transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in political science. I originally wanted to be a lawyer, but after working at a law firm, I realized that it wasn’t for me. The law firm where I worked specialized in worker’s compensation. From there, I went to a risk management group. Both of those experiences gave me a good foundation for the work I do now. I’m able to interpret code and laws and know how to apply them.”

“I do a lot of work with the community, specifically with young woman empowerment. I help young girls develop their skills for professional careers and, overall, build their self-esteem. I recently presented at the ‘Young Educated Ladies Leading’ (Y.E.L.L.) Summit where girls 14 – 18 years old participated in a variety of different workshops. It’s so important to develop those life skills. It’s also important to have an outlet; to learn how to speak for yourself and to be confident in who you are and how you feel. Those are themes we focus on at these Summits. My presentation was titled ‘Embracing your Inner Monsters.’ It’s fun to work with youth and teach them that no matter what challenges or obstacles you face, there is still opportunity to grow and be successful.”

“I also volunteer with Hispanic Seafair. I help with interview workshops, resume reviews, drafting cover letters…topics that align with career and vocational pursuits. Ironically enough, throughout the claims process, there is a portion that deals with vocational assessment which ties into my day-to-day work at City Light! Also, go Huskies!”