Entergy Corp. of New Orleans said Monday that Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas Inc., will retire in 2016.
McDonald has been with Entergy for 34 years, including 16 as the leader of its Arkansas operations.
Entergy said that Rick Riley, vice president of transmission for Entergy Services Inc., will succeed McDonald as CEO. The company said McDonald will continue with Entergy Arkansas “into the first half of 2016,” working with Riley “to ensure a smooth transition.”
“Hugh’s 34 years of contributions to Entergy and its key stakeholders are immeasurable,” Theo Bunting, Entergy’s group president of utility operations, said in a news release. “At every step of his career, Hugh’s leadership and vision have been instrumental in making the right decisions on so many critical issues. He has been a passionate voice for our Arkansas customers and our employees, and he always acted with integrity, respect and compassion.”
McDonald became president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas in 2000. He led Entergy Arkansas’ 2005 decision to exit the long-standing system agreement, and he championed Entergy Arkansas’ move to join the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.
As part of the transition plan, Entergy on Monday named Riley group vice president of customer service and operations for Entergy Arkansas, a role he will fill as he prepares to take on the CEO post. Jim Schott, vice president of supply optimization for Entergy Services Inc., will succeed Riley as vice president of transmission. Riley and Schott’s new appointments are effective June 14.
As group vice president of customer service and operations, Riley will oversee customer service, economic development and resource planning.
Riley has been vice president of transmission since 2010, overseeing development and governance of transmission regulatory, compliance, planning and asset management strategies. He began his utility career in 1985 at Gulf States Utilities.
“Rick embraces our vision for Arkansas’ growth and is the right choice to lead Entergy Arkansas in the future,” Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said. “His three decades of experience in a wide array of roles provide him with an excellent foundation to meet the needs of Entergy Arkansas’ stakeholders. Additionally, the plan we have in place to have Rick serve with Hugh over the upcoming months will ensure a smooth transition at a very important time for Entergy Arkansas.”
In April, Entergy Arkansas said it would invest $62 million into its grid, including a new transmission line and substation to serve industrial and commercial customers. The company says that from 2014 to 2017, it will have invested $2.4 billion on generation, transmission and distribution improvements to the state’s electrical infrastructure.
Entergy Arkansas is currently seeking a rate increase for next year to cover improvements to the grid and pay for the purchase of an El Dorado power plant.
The proposed increase, filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission in April, amounts to about 13 percent for the utility’s typical residential customer. Entergy Arkansas says a residential customer using 1,000 kWh would see his bill rise by $13, or about 45 cents a day. The increase could show up on energy bills in about 11 or 12 months.