Vinita – Grand River Dam Authority Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley announced today that he would be resigning his post to pursue an opportunity in the private sector. The announcement came during the April meeting of the GRDA Board of Directors.
“I am very proud of everything we have done at GRDA,” said Easley. “However, I have had an offer in the private sector that I simply can’t refuse.”
Calling it a “good time for a transition” Easley added that the new gubernatorial administration should have an opportunity for input into who it would like to see as the next leader of GRDA.
“I have had the opportunity to serve with a tremendously progressive board, a great executive staff and hardworking employees at GRDA,” he added.
Among the accomplishments during Easley’s GRDA tenure are:
- Increasing bond ratings from BBB+ (negative outlook) to A (stable outlook), saving GRDA ratepayers millions of dollars in lower interest costs and prompting Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway to insure GRDA’s 2008 bond issue.
- Recognized by credit rating agencies for successful negotiation of long-term contracts with customers, acquisition of a new power plant (Redbud Gas Plant) which resulted in greater diversification of the GRDA generation portfolio; and the addition of new customers to the GRDA system
- Maintaining the lowest electrical costs in Oklahoma and among the lowest in the Midwest
- Development of Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) for both Grand and Hudson Lakes (originally promised to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the early 1990s)
- Established of a GRDA Ecosystems Management Department which resulted in halting illegal dumping and runoff into lake waters; shoreline cleanup and enhancement efforts; and recognition by FERC as a model for other lake management organizations
- Upgrading aging facilities and GRDA infrastructure to meet federal requirements, including construction of the GRDA Ecosystems Center in Langley and the complete refurbishment and expansion of the GRDA Energy Control Center in Locust Grove.
- Modernization of GRDA’s Information Technology functions to meet federal requirements
- For the first time in GRDA history, the promulgation of administrative act rules
- Updated tariff reimbursements with the Southwest Power Pool
- Increased GRDA’s electric reliability standards to meet the latest FERC regulations
- Implementation of modernized GRDA purchasing and procurement procedures
While he is proud of these accomplishments and the recognition received from rating agencies and Wall Street during the utility’s financial turnaround, Easley added that recognition from within the power industry itself has also been a reinforcement of the positive efforts of the GRDA Board and executive team in recent years.
“The March 2009 issue of Public Power magazine profiled GRDA as a ‘reputation rebuilt’ and highlighted our turnaround,” said Easley. “I’m glad I was able to be part of that effort during a significant period in GRDA’s history.”
Easley added that he is also proud of the upcoming GRDA double-digit rate reduction plan, also announced at the April GRDA Board of Directors meeting. At a time when other utilities are raising rates, GRDA plans to roll back its rates to December 2009 levels.
“I think it’s a good way to close out my tenure at GRDA,” he said. “Rate reductions don’t happen without solid planning and good effort. It’s great for our customers and further illustrates the good things we were able to accomplish here over the years.”
Because of such efforts, Easley admits he leaves with mixed emotions.
“On one hand, I would very much like to stay and continue working with this progressive board, the executive team and all GRDA employees,” he said. “But on the other hand, the opportunity I’ve been given to move into the private sector comes at a good time for me and my family, and I simply cannot turn it down.”
Easley began his tenure as GRDA CEO in March 2004. Under the terms of his agreement with the GRDA Board, he will remain with the utility until July 31. GRDA Board Chairman David Chernicky announced that the board will begin a national search for Easley’s replacement.