Michehl R. Gent, president and chief executive officer of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), announced today that he intends to retire at the end of 2005. Mr. Gent, 64, joined NERC in 1980 as executive vice president and was elected president in 1982.
"Leading this team of exceptional professionals for the past 23 years has been a genuine privilege and I will truly miss the close working relationships we have formed," stated Mr. Gent. "Working to transform NERC into an independent electric reliability organization has truly been the highlight of my career. Although Congress still has not passed legislation that would provide NERC with the authority to enforce its reliability standards, we have made great strides towards that goal. The time has come to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders."
Under Gent's leadership, NERC has grown from an organization of just five people to one that has more than 50 employees today. Mr. Gent has been at the forefront of the industry's efforts to improve the protection of critical and cyber assets, both before and after September 11, 2001. Most recently, he led the technical investigation into the August 14, 2003, blackout and over the past year he has overseen the successful implementation of many of the recommendations resulting from that investigation.
Prior to joining NERC, Mr. Gent was General Manager of the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group. Before that, he held management positions at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. He earned his BSEE at Texas A&M and MSEE at the University of Southern California, taught in the graduate schools of USC and Loyola, and is a registered Professional Engineer. Mr. Gent currently serves on several high-level energy policy committees and boards, including the United States Energy Association, the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions, and the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee.
"Mike Gent will be a hard act to follow," stated NERC Chairman Richard Drouin. "He has led NERC with absolute integrity, dogged determination, and a clear sense of mission for the entire electric industry. Mike has told the board that, even though he prefers to retire by the end of the year, he is willing to stay on until we have found a replacement. I'm sure that the entire industry will join me in wishing Mike all the best when he leaves NERC to spend more time with his family in sunny San Diego." Mr. Drouin also said that the Board of Trustees is about to appoint a special committee of the board to identify a successor for Mr. Gent and make the proper recommendations to the board.
NERC's mission is to ensure that the bulk electric system in North America is reliable, adequate, and secure. Since its formation in 1968, NERC has operated successfully as a self-regulatory organization, relying on reciprocity, peer pressure, and the mutual self-interest of all those involved in the electric system. Through this voluntary approach, NERC has helped to make the North American bulk electric system the most reliable system in the world. NERC membership comprises ten regional reliability councils that account for virtually all the electricity supplied in the United States, Canada, and a portion of Baja California Norte, Mexico.