Mechanical engineer Kevin Perletti believes that nothing brings people together like an emergency.

He remembers a time a few years ago while working at the Bonneville Lock and Dam when several of the dam’s gates were damaged.

“I played a part in repairing that,” he says. “And it gives you a sense of accomplishment when that repair happens and the system is back working as normal.”

Perletti shouldn’t need any more emergencies to make him feel accomplished, however. The basic statistics about the dam itself are impressive enough. The dam’s 20 turbines can generate more than 1,100 megawatts — enough to power both Portland and Seattle. However, most of the energy the dam produces is sold to cities in California.

Perletti graduated from Oregon State in 1983 and has worked at the Bonneville Lock and Dam ever since. He says being a public servant is important to him.

“I have a sense of pride in what I do with my life,” he says. “You have to have pride in what you’re doing. I feel good about working for the public, and I do take that seriously.”

With 500,000 visitors a year, the dam is also important to the tourism of the area.

“That’s pretty significant,” Perletti says. “It helps that we are located in one of the most beautiful places in the Columbia River Gorge.”

— Callie Newton

Find out more about some of the brightest residents of the Columbia River Gorge and the organizations where they’re making an impact. http://sites.oregonstate.edu/beaver-nation/everywhere/gorge/

Published Date: 
Friday, November 21, 2014