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Randy Hardy becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light on September 24, 1984.
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On September 24, 1984, Randy Hardy becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light when his nomination by Mayor Charles Royer is confirmed by the City Council. Hardy will lead the department -- the nation's fifth largest public utility -- for seven years. He is the fourth City Light superintendent to be appointed in six years: Royer has forced three predecessor superintendents out of office since 1978.
Hardy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy for 10 years. He worked for the Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Power Planning Council before coming to City Light. Hardy took over a department that suffered from low morale and accusations of gender and race discrimination.
Hardy turned things around at City Light by being a good administrator. He instituted cost-saving reorganizations, employee bonuses, achievement awards, and assistance with childcare. Good safety records by workers were rewarded with paid vacation days for an entire crew. A computer project for the utility was not as successful, running behind schedule and over budget.
The 1980s was a period of power surplus in the Northwest due in part to a worldwide oil glut. Construction of Nuclear power plants by the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) had been suspended by astronomical cost overruns. Hardy supported abandoning the projects and opposed beginning nuclear plants. He was able to regain for City Light a seat on the board of WPPSS, lost during the 1970s when Seattle adopted a policy of conservation rather than new power sources to meet load growth. He earned a key role in resolving a dispute over one closed nuclear plant.
Hardy ended City Light's campaign of independence from the Bonneville Power Administration. By 1988, 10 percent of the utility's power coming from BPA and Hardy called that independent enough. He was credited with bringing City Light closer to regional power planning and policy.
Hardy managed many difficult human resources issues. Beginning in the 1970s, the mayor and then the city council required City Light to increase the hiring of women and minorities. This stress on social policy ran contrary to City Light's singular tradition of supplying the most electric power at the lowest cost. The utility drew criticism and legal action over discrimination issues. Hardy increased the training budget to improve management and communication and he used his military experience to bring teamwork into the department.
Hardy left City Light in 1991 to become administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration.
Larry Lange and Christopher Hanson, "New BPA Chief Won The Utility Post On His 'Personal Track Record,' " Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 21, 1991, p. A-1; John Hamer, "A Bright Idea (Yours?) At City Light?" The Seattle Times, December 11, 1986, p. A-14; David Schaeffer, "The New Boss Puts His Mark On City Light," Ibid., August 12, 1985, p. C-1.
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