Shorty Hickingbottom’s most recent letter to this newspaper asks why IID board members are “buying” the management changes and outsourcing of transmission planning in the Energy Department. The short answer is they are not, as those changes were enacted by me and the board is simply allowing the process, including the job action against several highly placed managers, to run its course.
I know Shorty and think highly of him, so rather than refute his claims I would offer the following:
IID is cancelling certain transmission projects because, if built out, they will only add to the deficit in maximum export capability imposed on the district by the California Independent System Operator. In other words, the giant hole in which we find ourselves, and which led to our lawsuit against CAISO, will become that much deeper – and it will be IID doing the digging.
This is the changed circumstance that we have been confronting as a balancing authority since 2014, which Shorty concedes he doesn’t completely understand and may not fully appreciate. For IID, the net result is this: projects in the queue that may have made business sense just two years ago not only lack any real-world justification today, they do real harm to the agency and to its continued independence.
The IID board answers to the voting public and I answer to the board. In my view, the situation in the Energy Department had become untenable and the gravest risk to the balancing authority would have been in doing nothing to address it. It will fall to the board to render a decision on whether I made the right call and hold me accountable for it.
As general manager, such accountability goes with the territory. But if IID is to withstand the formidable challenges that lie ahead of it, this same standard of accountability has to be a permanent feature of its business model in the 21st century.
And it must apply throughout the organization, not just to the general manager.
Kevin E. Kelley