El Paso executive picked to lead GRU


Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 1:56 a.m.
A utility executive from El Paso Electric was selected by a slim majority of Gainesville city commissioners Monday as their first choice to take over the reigns at Gainesville Regional Utilities.
Andy Ramirez, El Paso's vice president of power generation and a former official with Austin Energy, was selected by the commission after a series of votes that slowly whittled down a group of options, including three other candidates and the possibility of continuing the search.
But commissioners also specified that if Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan fails to reach an agreement with Ramirez, who has told an executive search firm hired by Gainesville that he is looking for a $250,000 salary, they should restart the search process rather than go with another candidate.
Ramirez will replace former GRU General Manager Mike Kurtz, who resigned last spring. The two share a background in energy supply.
Monday's vote could bring an end to a contentious process that has been criticized for drawing a small pool of finalists - three candidates came to Gainesville for interviews this weekend. The process has also been complicated by concerns about the commitment of the candidates to conservation, a major concern for some environmentalists as the utility considers the future of its power supply.
But with experience in Austin, which is considered a leader in conservation, Ramirez was a second choice for some critics of the process, with the first choice being to renew the search.
"It does appear to many of us that only one candidate meets some of our concerns," Gainesville resident Joshua Dickinson said, referring to Ramirez.
The votes came through a process in which commissioners cast votes for their top two candidates to narrow the pool by eliminating the least popular options.
The first ballot resulted in a three-way tie with Ramirez, the option to continue and Sandy Novick, the former head of the Lansing, Mich., utility earning four votes each. GRU Assistant General Manager for Water/Wastewater Utilities David Richardson was eliminated in this round.
In a second round of voting, Novick was eliminated and Ramirez and the option to continue each received five votes.
In a final round, in which commissioners received only one vote, Ramirez received four votes and the option to continue received three.
The commission then voted unanimously to offer him the job.
Jeff Adelson can be reached at 374-5095 or adelsoj@gvillesun.com.

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