BRADENTON, Fla. - Steven Blanchard, chief executive officer and general manager of the Fayetteville, N.C., Public Works Commission, received the American Public Power Association's James D. Donovan Individual Achievement Award.

Blanchard received the award at the APPA's national conference in Denver June 17. He is also a member of APPA's board of directors

The Donovan award recognizes people who have made substantial contributions to the electric utility industry, with a special commitment to public power.

"In a rich career spanning more than four decades, Blanchard has demonstrated tremendous vision and innovation," the APPA said. "Starting as an electrical engineer in 1972, he has made Fayetteville a trendsetter in public power operations."

Among his achievements, Blanchard oversaw construction of the Butler Warner Generation Plant, the only municipally built, owned and operated combined-cycle generation plant in the state. It provides 265 megawatts of power annually to the North Carolina grid and saves Fayetteville residents millions of dollars in energy costs.

The APPA also credited Blanchard for the Public Works Commission's high bond ratings, which the association said are the sixth-highest among municipal utilities in the U.S.

In February 2012, Standard & Poor's raised its rating on PWC's revenue bonds to AA from AA-minus citing "management's ability to maintain competitive utility rates," among other factors.

S&P also said electric rates were below the average of other utilities in North Carolina, and that the commission had "very good electric system reliability and water system management."

Moody's Investors Service upgraded its ratings to Aa2 from Aa3 in August 2012 saying that the utility had "continued healthy financial operations with sound fiscal practices," as well as strong debt service coverage and adequate bond holder protection.

The commission had $11.8 million of electric fund revenue bonds outstanding, according to the 2013 audit. Some $127.3 million of water and wastewater revenue bonds were also outstanding along with $4.3 million of general obligation bonds issued by the city.

PWC provides water service to more than 89,000 households and businesses, and has wholesale contracts with Fort Bragg, Spring Lake, Stedman, Hoke County and Aqua North Carolina Inc. The commission also serves more than 80,000 wastewater customers.

Blanchard has been CEO/general manager of the Public Works Commission since June 1994. He was hired by the commission in 1972, and held various positions.

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