Southwest Power Pool names new board members, chair

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 941 views 

Little Rock-based regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has elected two directors and selected a new chair and vice chair to its independent board of directors, according to a Tuesday (Oct. 25) news release.

Steve Wright and Ray Hepper will fill two open positions on the board. Susan Certoma was named chair and Elizabeth Moore will be vice chair. Certoma joined the SPP board in 2019 and will replace Larry Altenbaumer, the existing chair, who will remain on the board. Moore was elected to the board in 2020.

Wright’s term is effective immediately, and Hepper’s term begins Jan. 1. Wright is filling a position that Julian Brix vacated earlier this year. Brix retired before his term ended, and Wright will complete that term before beginning a three-year term. Hepper will replace Mark Crisson, who was elected for a term that expires at the end of this year.

“It’s an honor to welcome Ray and Steve to our board on behalf of SPP’s staff and stakeholders,” SPP President and CEO Barbara Sugg said. “They bring with them an impressive degree of utility experience and expertise. Their perspectives will play a critical part in SPP’s success at a time when we face significant opportunities and challenges related to things like expansion to the West, ensuring resource adequacy across our footprint and equipping ourselves to coordinate the grid of the future.”

Hepper has worked as an attorney in the electric utility industry and was vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for ISO New England until his retirement in 2018. Before ISO New England, Hepper was a partner in the Pierce Atwood firm and handled regulatory proceedings and power contracting issues. He was general counsel at Central Maine Power Co. and oversaw the sale of the company’s generation assets and its merger. He started his career as a tax litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice and was on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas board of directors. He earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an economics degree from Lehigh University.

Hepper, who has been blind since birth, spends volunteer time supporting education, employment and career development for people who are blind and other marginalized groups. He serves on the Penn Law School’s alumni advisory board for diversity, equity and inclusion. He’s a mentor in the Blind Leadership Development Program for the American Foundation for the Blind and served on the board of Perkins School for the Blind, including as vice chair of the board.

“I am honored to be elected by SPP’s members to serve on the board,” Hepper said. “I look forward to working with management and stakeholders as the organization takes advantage of the opportunities created by the continuing transition of the industry. The evolution to a larger footprint and closer integration with its neighbors will bring significant benefits to the region and give me the chance to work on very exciting issues.”

Wright was general manager at Chelan Public Utility until his retirement in 2021. Previously, he was the administrator and CEO of Bonneville Power Administration. He’s co-chair of the Climate Change Task Force for the American Public Power Association and previously served on its board. He also was a board member of the Alliance to Save Energy and the Large Public Power Council and past chair of the Public Generating Pool. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oregon.

“It’s exciting to join a dynamic organization that has a strong reputation for innovation and customer service,” Wright said. “SPP is at the center of our nation’s ambitious efforts to attain a reliable, affordable and clean electric power system. I look forward to continuing the SPP tradition of actively engaging members and stakeholders. I also hope to strengthen the bridge to potential SPP members in the West.”