Former Idaho PUC commissioner, Demo chairman Conley Ward dead at 66

Conley Ward, who grew up in Owyhee County and went on to Columbia University and a distinguished career as a utilities regulator and lawyer, died Monday at his home in Kuna.

Ward, 66, was one of three members of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission from 1977-86 and a leading figure in energy policy. From 1988-1991, he was chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.

As a partner at Givens Pursley in Boise, Ward advised Idaho’s rural telephone companies in the creation of Syringa Networks in 2002, which provides broadband services in rural Idaho.

Ward’s wife, Gail, said Ward died at home and was in hospice care. Diagnosed with leukemia in April, he underwent chemotherapy at Mountain States Tumor Institute.

Former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus issued a statement about Ward’s passing. I’ll have a full story in Wednesday’s Statesman.

The Andrus statement:

“I’m saddened by Conley Ward’s untimely passing and Carol and I extend our sympathy to his family and friends. There have been few more influential voices on Idaho and regional energy issues in the last 40 years than Conley Ward. He had a lawyer’s eye for detail as well as a deep concern for the little guy that made him a truly effective analyst, regulator and advocate. His finger prints are all over decisions ranging from the wise rejection of the Pioneer coal plant in the 1970’s to alternative energy and telecommunications policy. I would be remiss if I didn’t also say he was a loyal Democrat who served as a very effective state party chairman. I benefited from his support, advice and friendship. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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