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Murray nominates Austin’s Larry Weis as City Light CEO

Today Mayor Ed Murray nominated Larry Weis, general manager of Austin Energy, to become the next general manager and CEO of Seattle City Light.

Today Mayor Ed Murray nominated Larry Weis, general manager of Austin Energy, to become the next general manager and CEO of Seattle City Light.

“Larry stood out among our many applicants from across the country,” said Murray. “He is an accomplished and recognized leader in the nation’s utility industry. In Austin, he demonstrated strong financial management skills and deep concern for the welfare of his employees. Under Larry’s leadership, City Light will continue to support a vibrant economy as the nation’s greenest utility, while providing access to affordable service to all of Seattle families.”

“I was attracted to City Light’s tremendous record as a national leader in delivering affordable, reliable, renewable energy to its customers,” said Weis. “City Light has a long heritage of developing and operating hydroelectric projects and a robust energy distribution system. As a Northwest native, I look forward to returning to Seattle.”

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction. For a recent progress report from Seattle City Light, see Power Lines.

Weis was born in Seattle, raised in Central Washington and received a B.S. in Electrical and Mechanical Technology at Western Washington University. After starting his career at Snohomish County PUD, he served as general manager at Pend Oreille PUD, Turlock Irrigation District in California and finally at Austin Energy, the nation’s third largest municipally owned utility.

Austin Energy serves 1.6 million Texas residents, employs 1,800 people and has a strong reputation for supporting energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and worker safety.

With Weis at the helm at Austin Energy, the utility made dramatic increases in renewable energy generation, acquiring the largest solar projects in Texas, as well as several wind energy projects. Wind, solar and other renewable sources now represent about one-quarter of the utility’s power generation, and by 2025, half the utility’s energy will come from renewable resources.

A search committee representing Seattle energy experts, environmental organizations, energy assistance non-profits and labor unions provided input during the selection process.

“Larry’s track record as a utility executive, both here in the Northwest and down in Austin, has been impressive,” said Ash Awad, Vice President of McKinstry. “He’s led with innovation, especially on smart grid technology and energy efficiency, and I look forward to him bringing that same level of innovation here to Seattle.”

“We appreciated the opportunity for organized labor to be involved in the selection process,” said Joe Simpson with IBEW Local 77. “We are very interested in working with Larry to support the health and safety of City Light’s high-voltage workers.”

“It’s not too often that Seattle looks to Texas for environmental leadership, but under Larry Weis, Austin Energy has been among the nation’s leaders in renewable energy development, energy efficiency and electrifying the transportation system,” said Michael Mann, board chair of Emerald Cities Seattle and former director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. “We are excited to have attracted a leader like Larry Weiss to Seattle City Light.”

Weis will start at City Light on Feb.1. His starting salary will be $340,000. The Seattle City Council must confirm the nomination.

Jim Baggs, a senior leader at the utility for nearly 5 years, has served as interim general manager at City Light since last spring.

“I want to extend my thanks to Jim for his dedicated service as interim general manager,” said Mayor Murray. “Whether it was his thoughtful, caring response to a recent workplace injury or his active leadership during the windstorm last August, I could always count on Jim.”