Nearly a year after the first volley in a major shakeup in the Imperial Irrigation District Energy Department, the ousted former department manager is retiring, thus continuing the departure parade of long-time staffers.
Carl Stills, who most recently has been the district portfolio management officer, will end his 42-year IID career effective Sept. 1, according to an Aug. 24 internal memorandum to district employees from General Manager Kevin Kelley.
Kelley’s memo stated: “With his departure and effective with this memorandum, the Portfolio Management Office will become a direct report of Assistant General Manager Sergio Quiroz, who will be consulting with Carl in the next few days to ensure a smooth transition. My thanks to Carl on his many years of service to the district and I wish him well in the future.”
Kelley released the memo to The Desert Review in an Aug. 25 e-mail sent by a member of his staff. The response came a short time after a Desert Review reporter sent an e-mail to Kelley asking if Stills had retired. The reporter acted based on a tip from a member of the public.
Stills did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.
Stills was Energy manager until October 2015 when the IID Board of Directors voted, at Kelley’s urging, to hire electric-power industry veteran Vicken Kasarjian as co-manager. But that arrangement ended just two and a half months later when Kelley in another internal memorandum notified district employees that as part of a re-organization Stills had been reassigned to the Portfolio Management Office that advises Kelley and the board on major projects.
The move left Kasarjian as sole Energy manager.
Stills’ ouster from Energy was part of a controversial reorganization of that department that also saw Kelley leading the way to have five senior engineers placed on paid administrative leave. Kelley stated the personnel actions were taken because he was displeased with their performance.
The five were replaced with employees of ZGlobal, Inc., a Folsom-based energy consulting firm that IID has frequently hired, under a three-year, $9.1 million contract. Kelley stated the expertise of Kasarjian and ZGlobal better position IID to keep electric rates low and expand its electric-power transmission capabilities during a time when it must increase its use of renewable energy to generate electric power under state law.
IID seeks to expand its access to electricity from Imperial County’s burgeoning renewable energy industry and develop power lines to move that electricity to other California utilities seeking to purchase it.
Of the five staffers placed on leave one retired and at least one other has been terminated. The retired staffer, Paul Peschel, in June filed a claim against the district alleging he was forced to retire due to age discrimination and being a whistleblower for complaining the Energy Department was understaffed. The IID board voted to deny the claim.
The turmoil comes as IID sues the state’s largest transmitter of electric power in a federal anti-trust action. A federal judge recently ruled the case against the California Independent System Operator can proceed to trial. A date was not immediately set. The suit alleges CAISO is improperly impeding IID ability to transmit renewable-energy electricity to other areas.