HEPPNER — Columbia Basin Electric Co-Op will be searching for a new CEO after Thomas Wolff announced his retirement.

Wolff plans to leave the cooperative on Feb. 3, 2020. He started there in 1998 as chief financial officer, and stepped up to CEO in 2014. CBEC was established before World War II and began electrifying rural homes and farms in south Morrow County after the war ended.

“The co-op continues to maintain and improve electric transmission and distribution systems as a consumer-owned utility, providing for a strong backbone and weather-resistant capacities,” Wolff said.

Wolff grew up in Heppner and spent two decades in public accounting and finance positions before returning home to become CFO of Columbia Basin Electric Co-Op in 1998.

“I’m very familiar with the area,” he said. “Being able to serve on local boards and committees has been very rewarding.”

He and his wife Karen plan to stay in the Heppner area and continue to be involved in the community.

In addition to local boards, Wolff has also served on committees and in organizations related to the power industry, including the Northwest Public Power Association board of trustees.

He said one of the biggest challenges the cooperative has tackled is working to bring fiber-to-home internet to their rural coverage area. They are waiting on the results of a large federal grant to help fund that.

He is proud of his career with a consumer-owned utility, noting that consumer-owned utilities generally put their profits back into their system, strengthening their services.

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