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Employee Spotlight May 13, 2024

Employee of the Month – May

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Employee of the Month – May

May’s Employee of the Month has been described by colleagues as the “Superhero of Generation.” Sam Nietfeld is credited for having the knowledge and expertise needed in critical moments to save fish, save equipment, and protect the river. In addition to being the hero in a crisis, Sam can also be counted on during mundane times. He’s known for always being willing to answer a question or help solve a problem, and he empowers his colleagues with the information they need to tackle future problems.

Sam began his career with the PUD on August 7, 1995, as an Engineer, in the Planning and R & D department. In March 1997, he was promoted to Senior Engineer and in 1998, was promoted to Professional Engineer. In September 2007, Sam transitioned to the Jackson Hydro Project, which included a promotion to Principal Engineer, the position he continues to hold today.

Sam is no stranger to the Employee and Team of the Month program. In his nearly 29-year career at the PUD, Sam has been the recipient of three other EOM/TOM recognitions: including July 2014 Team of the Month as a member of the Jackson Project Team; January 2015 as Employee of the Month; and again, in November 2018 as a member of the Hancock Creek and Calligan Creek Team.

“Sam exemplifies the high standards we pride ourselves on at the PUD,” said Jason Zyskowski, AGM Generation, Power, Rates and Transmission Management. “He has a strong commitment to his team and the high level of knowledge and expertise that Sam demonstrates makes him worthy of this recognition. The work Sam does to train and develop fellow engineers and keep the PUD compliant with our FERC/NERC standards is tremendous. The work he does is really exceptional!”

Sam’s colleagues describe him as calm, cool, and collected. He is a wealth of knowledge and makes time for everyone’s questions. However, Sam is known for not just answering your question, but insisting that you fully understand – whether that means creating a personalized drawing or taking an employee to walk the system or entire plant. He is recognized in Generation as an expert source for operational assistance, troubleshooting, system updates/upgrades, ensuring FERC/NERC compliance is met, writing or proofing all standard operating procedures, and training/educating the team. Phrases like, “Well, did you run that past, Sam?” or “What did Sam say?” echo through the hallways at the Jackson Powerhouse.

“Sam is the kind of employee who stands out in a quiet way,” said Scott Spahr, Manager Generation, Operations and Engineering. “You can’t help to be impressed by all the things Sam does that nobody else does. But he also consistently shows up for his co-workers, which results in a better Generation Department.”

Sam’s level of knowledge minimizes the amount of time generation is down due to any onsite causes. Customers benefit from Sam’s contributions, though they may not know it or him, he is key to keeping our hydropower facilities operational, thereby helping keep rates low and power clean.

“I’m so happy we’re recognizing someone like Sam who is incredibly valuable, but does not expect even a thank you,” said Heather Grisolia, Generation System Operator. “Sam spends endless amounts of time and effort ensuring safe and continuous generation. He is the core (heart and brain), in my opinion, of the PUD’s hydroelectric power.”

Of course, as you may expect from everything Sam’s colleagues have said about him, Sam believes the best part of his job is the variety of activities and people he gets to work with.

“I would like to give a big thank you to all my co-workers for this honor,” said Sam. “We all spend a significant portion of our lives working together to produce and distribute water and power to Snohomish County. Working with people that are nice and fun makes work an enjoyable part of my life. I’d also like to thank the many departments that make the time to help us out. Too many names and departments to mention here, but the ITS department, System Planning and Protection, Substation Construction, Substation Engineering, T&D and Standards, Metering, Telecommunications, Safety, Contracts and Purchasing, Power Scheduling, Facilities, and ECC all have and continue to play a large role in producing power.”