Kittitas County officials have announced that former Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland is taking the helm of a new public-private partnership focused on renewable energy jobs and research.
The partnership is called the Central Washington Resource Energy Collaborative, which was formally recognized by the state Commerce Department in October.
It is the first Innovative Partnership Zone in the state since Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the initial designation of 11 such zones in 2007. Such zones are designed to build on the success of so-called “research parks” around the world such as the The Triangle in North Carolina and Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
In a news release Friday, Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell said Sutherland has agreed to accept the position as interim executive director of the new partnership and is expected to refine the agency’s organizational structure and direction over the next 12 to 18 months.
“We are extremely excited to have someone with Doug’s qualifications and experience to guide this project during its critical startup stage,” Jewell said.
Sutherland’s credentials include stints as the Pierce County executive, city manager of the city of SeaTac, and mayor and city council member of Tacoma. As a Republican, he served two terms as public-lands commissioner before he was defeated by Democrat Peter Goldmark in 2008.
In taking the job, Sutherland noted that he is a graduate of Central Washington University and thus familiar with the area.
“This is a great opportunity to assist in building a lasting organization,” he said. “The fact that I have ties to the area was a bonus that made it even more attractive.”
CWU is one of several organizations that are taking part in the partnership, along with Kittitas County and the nonprofit Economic Development Group of Kittitas County.
Also on board is Puget Sound Energy, which owns the Wild Horse wind farm east of Ellensburg, and enXco Development Corp., the French-backed company that is building the 95-turbine Desert Claim wind farm eight miles northwest of Ellensburg.
Kittitas County officials touted the partnership as the first in the state to focus exclusively on resource-based technologies.
According to the county’s news release, the partnership’s goal is to create a “hub” for renewable energy research and to strengthen the county’s job base by nurturing technology based companies.
Sutherland is expected to start Monday and will work out of the Economic Development Group’s offices in Ellensburg.
CHRIS BRISTOL, Yakima Herald-Republic – http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2010/01/30/sutherland-will-lead-renewable-energy-partnership