IID GM answers back



letters to the editorShorty 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


  1. The GM gets rid of 6 licensed professional engineers (5 that are 25 year plus employees, and 1 a new hire), trades out the Energy Manager with outsider and Zglobal affiliate Kasarjian, brings on Jesse Montano of Zglobal a non-engineer to run the engineering and planning department, adds two new Deputy Managers and then signs a $2.89 million contract with Zglobal for six full time people (any engineers?) for a year. All this after the 2016 budget showed only 3 new positions to be added in the whole Energy Department. WOW! So much for following a plan. We sure aren’t saving any money either, as we are paying $480,000/yr for each of the 6 Zglobal people.

    • The USBR has been raided for contract violations & inadequate knowledge of professional standards. Betty V., Chief Internal Auditor, is not an accredited like Tom Kaiser, I believe. Is she a certified public accountant? Hasn’t she been handling all the ZG contracts and didn’t she ask ZG to audit the energy transmission work that lead to the terminations, and subsequent hiring of ZG to replace IID staff?

  2. It is interesting how Reporter-in-Chief Kelley thinks he is being accountable by punishing his planning engineers for obvious failures on his part. Since he took over how often did he meet with the planners? The recently posted Annual Report for 2014 still mentions Path 42 as important to exporting energy from Imperial Valley. Now Kelley and Zglobal have cancelled it. Did Kelley and/or the board define the importance of the maximum export capability to the CAISO, to the staff, and the public? Does the pursuit of this maximum export capability supersede system reliability to the customers? How many of these projects that are being cancelled have a reliability of service to the customer component? As I see it, Kelley has failed to define or lead in any of these things. Now that he has peed in the pool, the employees that can are getting out. Where and when will it end? When is the board going to hold him accountable?

  3. I’ve taken a poll between friends and neighbors and hands down you are the best storyteller IID has ever had! Oh that’s right – I forgot – you are really a newspaper reporter masquerading as a GM. Well we all love reading fiction so keep up the reports!

  4. How does a newspaper reporter know what is best in the business sense or the engineering sense for an electric company? Sounds like all you follow is what puts the most money in your pocket and that must be what is most important for the board also since they are “allowing the process”. Who got IID into that terrible lawsuit that keeps popping up in the records? Weren’t you and the present board in charge at that time also? Sounds like you are still trying to find someone else to blame for that instead of being “accountable” for it. Accountable means present AND past events you were in charge of.

  5. Dir Benson, missing in action most of his term, at the last board meeting asked to see the total impact of the cancelled projects, not a piecemeal presentation. Where is this information, Jesse Montano? And why isn’t engineering management presenting this? Is there really a study or is this more ZG smoke & mirrors? Apparently this GM believed this ZG BS rather than his own in house staff of energy managers who are obtaining high level jobs at other companies – IID’s loss.

  6. Why why why… Answers the same…. Why does a Director continue to go Ballistic….why does Hanks stay quiet. Why does Kuhn play stupid. Where is Stella when we need her.

  7. The express purpose of Path 42 & other upgrades to the system is to send renewable energy from Imperial Co. to the rest of California. With ZGlobal cancelling these projects are they in effect isolating energy generators and ratepayers from the financial benefits? How can ZGlobal make this financial decision? Hmm, would local energy managers & engineers with valley ties make this suggestion? You’re onto something, Wiley! What’s Z-real goal here?

  8. The July 2015 communication GM provided titled Summary of Civil Action Against CAISO states “IID completed upgrades to Path 42 in January 2015.” What portion remained for ZGlobal to cancel? Sounds like more & more double talk! Energy managers & engineers removed to keep them quiet?

  9. 1) Abatti money influenced several IID Directors in campaigns 2) Abatti secures $37 million battery project with Zglobal, even though he has no background; shell corporation; no employees. llll

  10. ZGlobal seems to have quietly maximized their profits expanding a $50 thousand contract into well over $10 million without submitting a bid while taking over jobs their former clients held. ZGlobal in IID energy managers out. Who ever heard of a consultant managing company employees who have vested rights? Since they bought the Allegretti Ranch, are they taking over the public’s water & energy next? Water & power rates will more than double in 2 years as fast as ZG is moving.

  11. Kelly’s contract of 300,000$ is dependent on him protecting the often irrational Director, and his other Director friends that take Z Global money… SIMPLE. Connect the dots..

  12. Why fall on your sword to save ZGlobal and the directors? Or, was it really your decision to fire an exceptual in house staff of professional engineers for lessor experienced replacements and ZGlobal favors? They’ve let you down and don’t measure up to the departing veteran PE’S. ZGlobal replacements don’t understand the operations and should have been fired for the bad transmission advice given for 10 years. Ten million + is a lot of bad transmission advice. Uncommonly Stupid!

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