Well, it is official, I am leaving WEI. It has been one of the best periods of my life. My tenure began in Phoenix on March 1, 2008, and my last day will be in Newport Beach on January 31, 2022.
That is the first verse from the song called “The Bug” by Mark Knopfler. It has been my go-to song since 1991 for times that aren’t going well or that have proven difficult. I listen to it as needed, which is often. Although there have been more good times as I have progressed through life, there have been some challenges too. My advice is to listen to your heart, check in with your brain, and then move forward.
As you get more experience in life, you start to understand that there are phases – some are really good and some are, at best, trying. While I truly enjoyed my career at Bonneville Power Administration, it was time for a new and different challenge. I thought that I should play to my strengths in the electric utility industry, but I was open to different opportunities. I had a list of things I wanted to try: I wanted to learn how to play guitar better; I wanted to be a contractor and build a house or at least do a major remodel; I wanted to build or lead an organization to fill a need; I wanted to travel with Wende and see the world. At the time, I made a personal commitment to not make any big decisions regarding my future for six months.
As I started those six months every evening started to feel like a Friday night and every morning felt like it was Saturday.
I only made it four months. My serenity was interrupted by a phone call from LaMont Keen, the CEO at Idaho Power and the WEI’s board chair. WEI had problems and the board decided to shake up leadership and give WEI a chance to prove its relevance. The board believed in the model of sharing best practices amongst industry members. LaMont asked if I was interested in leading a fix of the organization. The challenge offered to me was to provide leadership and help WEI correct its course; to make it more relevant, grow membership, and boost attendance at gatherings.
Joining WEI proved to be a great decision. The board’s vision was clear: they wanted WEI to be the premier North American association for energy companies. That is a high bar considering all of the other quality associations in both the electric and natural gas industries in both the U.S. and Canada. I accepted the challenge and have never looked back.
I have learned much during this rebuilding period. There were bumps in the road as we went after our objectives. The most significant and most recent was working through the COVID-19 emergency. Fortunately, our team was ready and truly shined.
After all my years at Bonneville, I knew that our industry was staffed by incredible people, and that I could count on them for support. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my tenure was to work with a new board chair each year. They were all energy leaders — presidents and CEOs and a few senior vice presidents who were all dedicated to the success of WEI and had a wealth of knowledge that they shared.
Originally, I was going to leave WEI in January 2020, but to the board’s credit, they wanted to hire my replacement from within WEI. So we decided that I would stay for two more years to further develop WEI staff. I’m proud to announce that the board has chosen Kevin Sullivan to lead WEI.
Kevin has been with WEI for over 10 years and currently serves as our COO. He is ready to serve our membership and guide the organization for further success. It is important to me that Kevin was chosen. WEI serves an important role in our industries – we just celebrated our 128 birthday – and it will be relevant way into the future with the right leadership. Kevin is that leadership.
There are two bucket list items that still exist — world travel and guitar playing. I am not ruling out continuing employment in our industry, but I will be selective. Thanks to all that have supported me over the years. Please don’t be strangers as I plan on being around for a long time.
Chuck Meyer, President, WEI