Ron Nichols Appointed General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Ron Nichols Appointed General Manager of the
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

30-Year Veteran of the Energy and Water Utility Industry
Brings Hands-On Experience and Expertise

Current Board Vice-President Tom Sayles Elected President of the
Board of Water and Power Commissioners

LOS ANGELES – Ron Nichols, an energy and water utility industry expert, was appointed General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners today. Mr. Nichols has a long history of developing comprehensive strategies for utilities and successfully guiding their implementation.

“Ron Nichols brings over 30 years of experience in the energy and water utility industry with specific depth of knowledge of California,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “His hands-on experience working on both the financial and operational sides of the utility business will be invaluable at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.”

Mr. Nichols brings a wealth of expertise to the General Manager position. He specializes in public/private partnerships for planning, financing, and developing energy and water utility infrastructure and enterprises. He led a team for the State of New York to help transition the Long Island Lighting Co. electric utility system into the Long Island Power Authority (a new public power utility), where he then joined the senior team to hire and prepare management staff to run the $2.5 billion annual cost operation.

In 2007, he was part of a diverse team for the California Energy Commission, evaluating the effects of alternative levels of energy efficiency and renewable energy on carbon levels and electricity costs in California and throughout the West.

In the aftermath of the 2000-2001 energy crisis, Mr. Nichols helped return the California electricity market to normalcy by arranging for over 10,000 MW of power supply contracts. He also played a major role in the two largest revenue bond financings for infrastructure in the history of the United States.

“I am honored to be nominated for the position of LADWP General Manager,” said Ron Nichols. “The Department faces large challenges, but with challenge comes opportunity. If confirmed, I look forward to having the opportunity to work with Mayor Villaraigosa, members of the City Council, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, and the hardworking staff of the LADWP to rebuild the Department, restore its credibility with its customers and ensure its future success.”

Mr. Nichols will lead LADWP during a challenging period as it strives to reduce carbon emissions and transition away from coal-fired energy; continue to meet aggressive renewable energy goals; comply with stringent and capital-intensive water quality requirements; and conserve vital water and energy resources.

“As the nation’s largest public utility, we are held to a high level of review and scrutiny. We must be a transparent organization that is accountable to its customers and the communities it serves,” stated Nichols. “We must also be thoughtful and methodical as we balance our environmental responsibilities and the needs of our electric and water customers for reliable and affordable service. If given the opportunity to lead the organization, this balance, and this transparency will be my top priorities.”

Mr. Nichols replaces Austin Beutner, who has served as LADWP General Manager since April 2010. During Mr. Beutner’s tenure, he was responsible for saving the Department $263 million in his first months in office.  These cuts enabled LADWP to avoid a rate increase.  Under his leadership, LADWP has maintained and furthered its position as a leader in renewable energy, producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources; implementing efficiency programs to reduce power usage; and conservation measures to reduce water usage by over 20%.

Mr. Beutner, working with the Board, also expanded an era of transparency at LADWP as the Department held dozens of additional meetings with community groups, neighborhood councils, ratepayers and City Council members and other stakeholders to review LADWP’s budget and Long Term Plan and to seriously consider issues raised by them prior to adoption of the Budget and Long Term Plan.

Upon accepting the position, Mr. Beutner stated that one of his primary goals was to assist the Department and the City in finding a permanent replacement who possessed the necessary leadership skills, knowledge base, and experience to lead the Department.

“Ron Nichols possesses the skills to lead the Department to meet the many challenges the business will face in years to come while maintaining a commitment to providing safe, reliable and affordable power and water to the City,” said First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner. “Ron’s extensive industry background, leadership experience and familiarity with the state’s regulatory structure make him well-suited to lead the organization.”

“After an extensive national search process, I know we found the right person, with extensive working knowledge of water and power, the right skill set and decades of industry experience to run this outstanding Department,” said outgoing Commission President Lee Kanon Alpert. “I am proud, on behalf of our outstanding Commission, of the great progress the Department made under Austin’s proactive leadership, and am also extremely confident its new leadership team.”

In addition to the nomination of Ron Nichols, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners elected Thomas Sayles President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners to replace current two-term President, Lee Kanon Alpert, a partner in the Encino based law firm of Alpert Barr & Grant, after Alpert announced shortly after Thanksgiving that he would retire at year’s end.

Mr. Sayles currently serves as Vice President, Government and Civic Engagement for the University of Southern California (USC). Prior to joining USC, Mr. Sayles served as the Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Corporate Communications for Rentech Inc., an alternative fuels company headquartered in Los Angeles.

From 1994 to 2007, Mr. Sayles worked for Sempra Energy and its predecessor companies. He has also served as California Commissioner of Corporations; California Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing; and practiced law in the private and public sector.

“I am humbled and honored to be elected President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners,” said Mr. Sayles. “The nomination of Ron Nichols by the Mayor gives me further faith that the Department is on the right track and building upon its previous successes.  “As Commission President, my priorities will be maintaining and establishing policies that enable the Department to provide our customers reliable and low-cost water and power, ensure the safety of our customers and employees, and enhance the Department’s transparency and accountability.”

“I congratulate Tom Sayles on his unanimous election as the new Commission President,” stated Mr. Alpert.  “Tom has significant industry experience, a passion for this Department and furthering its positive goals and will bring fresh, positive leadership as President.  He has been a pleasure to work with, a tremendous confidant and I am honored to call him my friend.”

Mr. Sayles replaces Lee Kanon Alpert as Commission President effective in January 2011.

Mr. Nichols’ appointment is subject to confirmation by the City Council.


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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation’s largest municipal utility, provides reliable, low-cost water and power services to Los Angeles residents and businesses in an environmentally responsible manner. LADWP serves about 1.4 million electric customers and 680,000 water customers in Los Angeles.