Portland District People: Nick Cooper, Electrical Craftworker, Bonneville Lock and Dam


Nick Cooper spends most of his time on control systems inside the powerhouse. Bonneville Lock and Dam has been installing many upgrades to the powerhouse and integrating these into the existing infrastructure keeps him busy.

NickCooperWhat do you find most rewarding about your job?
Finishing a job on time and having it all work. The powerhouse is a very complicated system.

What inspires you or motivates you as you do your job?
I like to tell people that my job is to keep the lights in the life. Keeping the big generators running is satisfying to me. They are larger than me, but a small creature makes them run.

What are your hobbies?
I live in Hood River, and I embrace the outdoor activities living there brings. I’ve been skiing since I was 20 and haven’t missed a season yet. Now I ski with my family on Mount Hood most every winter weekend. Mount Hood Meadows is my favorite. A lot of good terrain, I taught my wife and kids to ski all conditions and all locations on the mountain. So, you’ll have a hard time finding us on the slopes as we’ll be skiing; trees, steeps and ungroomed areas most the time. Heather Canyon and Marmot Ridge are our preferred spots.

My summer hobby is easy: kiteboarding. It is very addictive. It’s a sport that requires more mental attention, than physical strength. You have to fly the kite, manage the wind, anticipate the wind, control your board to take best advantage of the moment, make sure you can get back to the launch from where you left, watch out for others, understand the currents in the river and lookout for barges (that can’t stop for you if you’re in their path).   Then once you are comfortable with all that, it’s time to play! My wife and two children are kiting with me now.

What is your favorite travel destination?
Any place warm and sunny, with water and wind nearby. I also enjoy our many trips to Chile; my wife is from Chile. I have never had a bad time there. Even when I crashed my in-laws’ new car in the middle of Santiago’s busiest street. I brought half of an eight-lane boulevard to a halt for 20-plus minutes . . . until the police showed up and asked, “Will the car move?” Yes, I believe it can. “Then get it *&%^ out of the street!”

Who or what inspires you?
My good health and the sun coming up in the morning. My grandfather grew up in the Great Depression; his confidence to somehow fix anything was an inspiration to me. He would not let anything stop him from getting it done.

What do you like most about working for the Portland District?
It allows me to live and work in a beautiful location. The view from the dam is unbelievable. Every time I go outside, my eyes go straight to the wonderful scenery that surrounds us here.

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