Columbus, Neb. (Press Release) – With a career of more than 40 years with Nebraska Public Power District, including the past nine as President and Chief Executive Officer, Pat Pope announced during Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting.he plans to step down as President and CEO.
He expects to remain available to assist with transition and continue working on the District’s generation options for the future and rural e-connectivity initiatives.
In making the announcement to the Board Pope said, “I didn’t know how long I would stay with NPPD when I began working here. As the years went by the opportunities kept coming I stayed with the District and learned to appreciate what public power really means to our customers and the state.” He acknowledged that 20 years into his 40 year journey he was fortunate enough to be promoted to Vice President, and the electric industry began to deregulate and decarbonization became an issue. His tenure as President and CEO is the second longest in the 50 year history of NPPD, with Durwood ‘Woody’ Hill serving 12 years from 1970 to 1982.
“It has been a pleasure working with Pat and I wish him and his wife Jackie the best in the coming years,” said Board Chair Barry DeKay. “Some may be surprised with this announcement but Pat has been talking to the executive committee of the Board for the past few months to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”
DeKay explained that as a result of those conversations, Tom Kent, currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer has been in discussions with the executive committee of the Board to replace Pope. It is expected that the executive committee of the Board will recommend hiring Kent at the March Board of Directors meeting.
“Today the District enjoys a strong financial position, wholesale and retail rates are stable and very competitive, and our operations are running well,” he commented. In looking at key developments in recent years under his leadership he pointed out that retail rates have remained stable going into a seventh consecutive year and wholesale rates for the past three years, Cooper Nuclear Station has earned excellence ratings from the Institute of Nuclear Plant Operators two of the past three evaluation cycles, a conversion project to burn hydrogen rather than coal as a fuel at Sheldon Station is currently in the design phase, and Gerald Gentleman Station continues to be one of the most cost effective power plants in the country. Additionally, NPPD’s carbon free energy mix for Nebraska customers has averaged roughly 60 percent over the past five years, reaching 68 percent in 2019.
“And while I know the future will be different, a solid foundation has been laid to help ensure the District’s ongoing success,” he added “After nine years as president and chief executive officer, now seems like a good time for me move on to the next chapter in my life. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and Jackie and I have lots bucket list items to begin checking off.”
“I want to thank the Board and the entire NPPD team for giving me one of the best experiences an old Nebraska farm boy could have hoped for. NPPD is a great organization made up of wonderful people and I have no doubt it will serve the residents of Nebraska well for many years to come.”
Pope graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and earned a master’s degree in Business Administration in 1995. He joined NPPD in December 1979 as an Electrical Engineer and has also held the positions of Distribution Planning Engineer, District Operations Superintendent, Regional Operations Superintendent, Regional Manager, Energy Control Center Manager and Vice President of Transmission Services.
He was appointed Vice President of Energy Delivery in October of 2003 followed in November of 2004 being named Vice President of Energy Supply. In January of 2008 he was appointed Vice President & Chief Operating Officer and in April of 2011 he was appointed President & CEO.