Following a lengthy nationwide search, SMUD’s general counsel Arlen Orchard has been named to succeed John Di Stasio as CEO and general manager, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District announced Wednesday.
Orchard, SMUD’s top lawyer and a 24-year company veteran, will start April 12.
“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, 54, in a statement. “That the board chose from among the internal candidates speaks highly of the excellent work of SMUD’s staff over the years.”
Di Stasio announced his retirement last fall after more than 32 years at SMUD.
More than 100 “very remarkable” candidates from both public and privately owned utilities across the country applied for the post, according to Genevieve Shiroma, president of SMUD’s board of directors. “What set Arlen apart is not only that he knows the business of keeping power plants running, but he also brings a vision for the utility of the future,” she said.
Orchard’s extensive experience with nearly every aspect of the utility business – from contracts to power plant operations to new technologies – gave him the edge, Shiroma said. With competitors like Google entering the utility market, she said, it’s becoming increasingly crucial that SMUD be able to deliver the best products at the best price to both business and residential customers.
Orchard has “a pulse on what’s happening nationally and knows how we can be nimble and offer programs to customers. We were inspired and confident that he will lead us into that next phase,” she said.
Shiroma said the seven-member SMUD board will set Orchard’s new salary at its public meeting on April 3. SMUD’s current CEO, Di Stasio, earns $425,000 a year.
Orchard joined SMUD in 1990 as a staff attorney and has served as the utility’s general counsel since 2001. He sits on the Northwest Public Power Association’s board of trustees and is general counsel for the California Municipal Utilities Association. He also serves on the directors boards of Capital Stage, a nonprofit professional theater company; the Greater Sacramento Urban League; and the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
SMUD serves about 625,000 residential and business customers through a network of natural gas and co-generation plants, as well as power generated through hydroelectric, wind and solar installations.
Call The Bee’s Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968.