JEA CEO search narrows down to six semifinalists

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Out of a pool of 28 total candidates who applied for the position, six have moved forward as semifinalists to be the next JEA Managing Director and CEO.

Notably, the local and regional applicants, Beaches Energy Services Director Allen Putnam and Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Edward Bielarski Jr., are not on the list. In fact, none of the semifinalists have connections to Jacksonville.

Elaina Ball: Senior vice president and interim Chief Operation Officer at El Paso Electric in El Paso, Texas. According to her resume, Ball has been with the El Paso Electric Company for two and a half years and has been serving as Senior Vice President and Interim COO since August 1.

“For the past 14 years, I have worked in electric utilities and have sharpened my technical, regulatory, financial and people management skills. I currently serve on four Boards of Directors and believe I can add to positive governance of organizations. I am motivated by leading and contributing positively to cultural and bottom line improvements," Ball said in her resume’s summary.

John Hairston: The Chief Operating Officer at Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon. According to his resume, Hairston has been with the Bonneville Power Administration since 1990, starting as a economist and marketer. He moved his way up and became COO in October 2019. However, local outlets are reporting that Hairston has taken over as interim Administrator and CEO of the Bonneville Power Administration earlier this month.

William Herdegen: The Operations Vice President of Henkels & McCoy Inc. in Aurora, Illinois. According to his resume, he joined Henkels & McCoy, Inc. in November 2017 as the Operations Vice President. He formerly served as Chief Operating Officer at Innovari, Inc. in Portland, and President at Connecticut Light & Power Co. in Berlin, Connecticut.

Cheryl Mele: Serves as an Independent consultant in Austin, Texas. She formerly served as the interim Vice President of Regulatory Affairs of Austin Energy in Austin, Texas from December 2019 to June 2020. In her resume’s summary, she says she “understands and appreciates how public power utilities can benefit their communities.”

“As Deputy General Manager and COO at Austin Energy and COO at ERCOT, I gained expert insight into the increasingly complex challenges the utility industry faces. Chief amongst those are: cyber security risk, renewable energy integration, storage growth, demand response, customer-owned solar, rate design, and electric transportation."

Morgan O’Brien: The President and CEO of Peoples Gas in Pittsburgh. According to his resume, her served as President and CEO from February 2010 to March 2020. He left Peoples Natural Gas after Aqua America Inc. acquired it. In his resume’s survey, he says that he is an “experienced chief executive with demonstrated achievement in development and execution of creative enterprise strategies that delivered measurable growth in business value, corporate reputation and people.”

Jay Stowe: The CEO and founder of Stowe Utility Group LLC in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He previously served as the former Senior Vice President of Resources and Operations Support for the Tennessee Valley Authority from October 2016 to October 2019.

The board plans to conduct final interviews starting October 12 and ending on October 16. Negotiations with the finalist will be completed by October 30 according the JEA’s search committee timeline. This lines up with the six-month period ending for Paul McElroy to serve as an interim CEO.

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.

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