IID makes scathing case against former energy management

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IID front yard

The Imperial Irrigation District late Monday released to the Desert Review memorandums outlining a scathing case against five senior members of the IID Energy Department ousted last fall in a controversial reorganization. The information was sent by e-mail.

 

Allegations as summarized by IID General Counsel Ross G. Simmons allege some work by those electric-power transmission planners and managers was “garbage” and “placed the IID’s transmission system—and the safety of its employees in the field—at risk and resulted in major expenditures on unnecessary projects.”
IID announced in an Oct. 16 press release it had placed “several” employees in its transmission, planning and engineering sections on paid administrative leave. General Manager Kevin Kelley later said in an interview the action involved employees that he alleged were bungling major transmission projects. IID has otherwise declined to discuss details of the action, or name the employees, stating it is a confidential personnel matter.
The memos released Monday state the personnel matter is pending but does not provide specifics. The district did not immediately respond to an e-mail late Monday asking if the staffers are still on paid leave. Sources who spoke recently on the condition of anonymity said four remain on paid leave and a fifth applied for retirement and obtained employment elsewhere.
The employees have not issued comments.
IID Energy is responsible for the generation and importation of electric power to serve the district’s 150,000 customers in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties. It is also oversees the transmission of that power over electric lines within, and into and out of, its service area.
The memorandum containing the allegations is dated April 12 and states it was sent from Simmons to the IID Board of Directors. It states the topic is “Investigative Report Summary IID Energy Department in re: Transmission Planning Unit.” It states the document is “not intended to be confidential.”
That unit is the part of IID Energy responsible for planning how electric power is moved on its power lines, as well as planning for changes, often expansion, that will need to be made.
Also released was a memorandum dated Monday from Simmons to “Members, Energy Consumers Advisory Committee (ECAC)” and states the subject as “Transmission Planning Unit Investigation.”
The ECAC is a 20-member advisory committee. Each of the five IID directors appoint two members. Areas of Coachella Valley in Riverside County that get electric power from IID but are outside the districts of its elected directors nominate the 10 additional members that are then formally approved by the IID directors.
Deadline restrictions prevented the Desert Review from seeking immediate comment from the IID directors or ECAC members. The e-mail to the Desert Review stated, however, “IID will not be distributing this report widely nor are we issuing any further statements at this time.”
In the memo to the ECAC Simmons explains why he is sending the ECAC the April 12 memorandum previously shared with the IID board about the allegations against the staffers.
“I was before you [the ECAC] at your January 4 meeting speaking to the placement of personnel within the Imperial Irrigation District’s Transmission Planning Unit on administrative leave,” Simmons states.
“Dissatisfied with information available from former management surrounding the issues, I have since commissioned a third-party investigation to confirm the propriety of the general manager’s action…That investigation is complete…” Simmons adds.
Simmons’ April 12 memorandum states the staffers were placed on leave based on his and Kelley’s “view that IID’s Transmission Planning Unit’s dysfunction was pervasive and exigent, and the Energy Department management had not taken corrective action.”
The October shake up also involved the hiring of Vicken Kasarjian as co-Energy-Department manager with Carl Stills, who had been sole manager. But by Dec. 30, Kasarjian was sole Energy manager and Stills reassigned to a project management position, an internal memo released by Kelley at the time states.
Sources said the positions the five staffers held were deputy energy manager responsible for engineering and operations, a planning and engineering manager, a general superintendent of planning, a supervisor of planning and an assistant manager of energy transmission expansion. IID has not confirmed the positions.
Their work, Kelley said, is now being performed by six employees of the privately owned energy consulting firm ZGlobal, Inc., under a three-year $9 million contract recommended by Kelley and approved by the board on Oct. 20. Kasarjian, who has a lengthy career in the energy industry, spent time as a consultant for ZGlobal in the year prior to being hired by IID, Kelley confirmed.
The personnel moves have been criticized by observers who conceded the IID Energy Department had had some difficulties but maintained the disciplined employees were making steady improvements. They added the moves could jeopardize the reliability and affordability of electricity supplied by IID.
Kelley, in a previous interview, countered by stating it was the actions of the staffers placed on leave that threatened those core functions.
Simmons’ April 12 memo to the board finally sheds light on the district’s reasoning for essentially tearing its Energy management team out by the roots and starting anew. It lists eight “issues” identified by the investigation “that validate the general manager’s personnel action…” They include inadequate training and planning, eight “Questionable IID transmission system improvement projects either completed or in progress,” failure to comply with IID procedures and delays in completing studies related to electric-power transmission.
Simmons states the investigation was performed by Baker Street Group and Al Fayez Ecommerce LLC. It adds that while their investigation is “ongoing…they have now reported back on eight crucial issues.”
In Issue #2 titled “Flawed engineering models and transmission planning assessment studies,” Simmons states, “The use of faulty data has resulted in faulty studies…In other words, IID’s Transmission Planning Unit used ‘garbage in’ models that resulted in ‘garbage out.’”
Simmons concludes, “The pending personnel matter arising from IID’s Transmission Planning Unit has now been investigated, the report is complete, and that process is proceeding. Nevertheless, there are various safety and accounting issues that remain, which the general counsel’s office is still investigating.”
He adds he and Kelley had to step in “to secure and stabilize IID’s transmission Planning Unit, unaided by Energy Department management…This is most assuredly not as it should be.”
Simmons also states “Those disciplined were not those being supervised, but are those who were charged with, and abdicated, supervision. They were not those who were trained incorrectly, but those who taught others incorrectly…”

 

 

24 COMMENTS

  1. This is more of the same lies by Simmons and Kelley to justify what they have done. Neither have the background to understand what was or is needed for IID. The problem with that approach is they destroyed the engineers careers, destroyed moral across the district, and set the energy department up for failure. ZG was assigned to work with the planners to address the CAISO issues. Instead it appears ZG betrayed them and used them as scape goats for ZG’s own failures. They pulled it off by convincing board members that had blind trust in them that ZG knows what it is doing. The convincing was helped by directors being indebted to ZG due to favors or promises of future financial benefits. The old energy manager didn’t support that approach because he knew better. Too bad Simmons and Kelley didn’t.

  2. Without any business management of their the Attorney and GM admit to not listening to experienced managers and making the decision to fire licenced professionals on their own following sole advice from small subcontractor with little success that benefits untold $millions from the decision.

  3. IVP only publishes what IID gives them, because they are afraid they might lose advertising.

  4. The layoffs and takeover of IID by ZGlobal were orchestrated by GM & Counsel to help cover up their mistake filing CAISO lawsuit against recimmendation of energy management. Partnering with Intrnal Auditor & ZGlobal this was easily done after buyout of Asst. GM.

  5. The paid leaves and take over by ZGlobal were orchestrated by the GM and Legal Counsel to cover their mistake filing against CAISO after being advised by IID energy management not to do so.They partnered with the Internal Auditor and ZGlobal to easily carry this out after the ASST. GM was quietly bought out to help clear the deck.

      • Jim Hanks boys were hired by ZGlobal and another relative Matt McDonald was promoted to manager; Steve Benson invested in ZGlobal companies; Norma dislikes Juan Carlos;and Matt hates Carl; Bruce only director who didn’t vote to fire employees.

    • Ya think? It took 6 months to compile reasons in a made by order report that ZGlobal helped prepare – then presented to paper before impartial Skelly Hearing!

  6. By providing this information to the press along with previous comments both captured in the paper and made in the public it is obvious

  7. As a rate payer, local business person, Human Resource Manager and a third generation Imperial Valley resident I’m completely shocked and astounded by this. What has happened to IID? I’ve never seen it even close to this bad. IID hasn’t had the best of leadership over the last number of years. But this is the bottom of the pits. How can an agency, the Board members, General Manger, and Legal Counsel conduct themselves this way? All employees regardless of what they purportedly did or didn’t do must receive due process. In part this requires a proper Skelly Hearing by an independent manager. Who is left to be independent?

    • Yes, this all looks like after the fact fabricated justification to replace energy management with ZGlobal – put in unprecedented position to illegally profit from their decisions on behalf of IID. Follow the money & favors!

  8. IID uses a “made by order” to make unfounded allegations. There was no case made here. I’m surprised by all the private personnel information divulged. Not very professional of IID and will probably be very costly. More experienced leadership needed at IID. The process used on these managers is shameful.

  9. The Baker Street Group was used to investigate the gas hedging mistake where IID lost over $60 million. Carl’s team has cost the IID well over that amount in lost revenue and unnecessary projects. That group of engineers held the IID engineering section hostage for over 15 years.

    IID raised rates to pay for all the projects being proposed by Carl’s Team and IID will have to raise rates again to pay for the retirement medical monies management squandered over the past seven years. Stop the lying, it was not getting better under Carl, IT WAS AT AN ALL TIME LOW!

  10. How does the GM escape? How does the IID Board escape.? They both have direct responsibility. Are they just doing this to profit personally? It sure looks like it.

  11. Hmmmmmm…..you ever notice when the truth comes out the ones caught doing nothing are the first to respond? Soooooo Carl and his bunch did nothing about it BECAUSE THEY HAD NO CLUE THEMSELVES. IID had wasted time and money on these employees….Arn states “they are valued and respected and hard workers and amazing employees and blah blah blah…….Arn didn’t even know them….neither did Carl. They were a bunch of do nothings that sucked up to Carl and his ego. PEOPLE……Enough…..Carl has no clue how to run an Energy Department. Get over it…..just go away. You’re making it worse on those employees because you keep stating how perfect they were. NEWSFLASH…they weren’t. Do you really think the IID would open itself up to litigation if there was no proof. If the conspiracy theory is correct Carl would have been the 6th one let go. He’s absolutely clueless. His ego is amazing; he’s still trying to run the magnificent seven as if they have something to do. Really?

    The new group ACTUALLY ANSWERS QUESTIONS because they know what they are doing; Carl’s bs caught up with him in a major embarrassing way. Carl…..stop whining…you’re still getting paid over a quarter a mill for NOTHING!!! You’re not coming back…..no one wants you…you’re clueless. Arn….stay retired…you’re worse than Carl….just barely. If any of you trolls had any real knowledge about these issues it would be one thing….but none you know anything…you just keep spewing out the same garbage Carl tells you to. Carl…..Please….stop embarrassing yourself and just go away already.

  12. Some of the studies and planning that were brought forth by this group of staff members were brought to them by the Management team who currently heads the IID. Same Management team that has been brought in to save the IID, I have had the chance to speak to some of the developers who are in the queue to build some new Solar Facilities and they have been promised a much smoother path to their projects as well as free wheeling costs from IID, which means more money in their pockets which ultimately costs the rate payer. IID will be responsible for the maintenance of these new substations/switching stations which it does not have the resources or budget to take on these sites. MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!!!

  13. Is this the same Baker Street Group that were advocates for the Brady Bunch, who originally hired ZGlobal? Did they comment on the ethics & legality of ZGlobal holding line management positions for their client IID and making decisions that affect other ZGlobal clients getting work, thereby increasing ZGlobal profits?

    • Yes, this is the same Baker St.used by Brady Bunch. According to this Baker St.report, the team included a ZGlobal representative on all interviews & information gathering, and the short list of interviewees included Vicken & Montano, making the report so apparently biased and beneficial to ZGlobal as to be worthless! After firing the energy staff without notice 6 months ago, this is a disappointing effort for the time spent to create evidence, and gives new meaning to “trumped up” charges.

      • You are right. On page 22 of Baker report under methodology it states that ZGlobal participated in all the interviews, thus invalidating the report – a waste of prejudiced paper! No better than Garbage.

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