California hydroelectric power operator names new CEO

Arlen Orchard

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has announced the selection of Arlen Orchard as its new general manager and chief executive officer, effective April 12.

Orchard, a 24-year SMUD veteran, succeeds former CEO John Di Stasio. Di Stasio announced his retirement from the utility this past fall after more than 30 years with the company.

"I am honored to be chosen by the Board of Directors and humbled to be given the opportunity to run this great organization," said Orchard, whose appointment was finalized by the board earlier this month following a national search. "That the board chose from among internal candidates speaks highly of the excellent work of SMUD's staff over the years."

Orchard joined the utility as a staff attorney in 1990 before eventually being named general counsel in 2001. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Northwest Public Power Association and as general counsel for the California Municipal Utilities Association.

"After many interviews, followed by through deliberation, it became clear that Arlen was the best choice to navigate SMUD through the increasingly complicated legislative and regulatory environment, while keeping our power generation running, making progress reducing our carbon footprint, and ensuring that electric rates remain affordable," board president Genevieve Shiroma said. "Arlen's expertise as SMUD's general counsel for more than a decade will serve our customer-owners very well."

SMUD is currently the sixth-largest community-owned power service provider in the United States. The company is the first large California utility to generate more than 20% of its energy from renewable resources, including hydroelectric power.

SMUD is currently seeking bids to provide owner's engineering services for development of the 2.7-MW New Slab Creek small hydro project.

The company was also the recipient of more than US$5 million in hydropower research and development grants from the Departments of Energy and the Interior in 2011.

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