After serving a 34-year distinguished career at Entergy, with 16 at the helm of Arkansas’ largest utility, Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, Inc., will retire in 2016, Entergy Corp. announced today.
To ensure a seamless transition, Rick Riley, currently vice president of transmission for Entergy Services Inc., has been named group vice president of customer service and operations for EAI, and will transition to McDonald’s role as president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas when he retires in the first half of 2016. Jim Schott vice president of supply optimization for Entergy Services Inc. succeeds Riley as vice president of transmission. Riley and Schott’s new appointments are effective June 14.
“Hugh’s 34 years of contributions to Entergy and its key stakeholders are immeasurable,” said Theo Bunting, group president, utility operations. “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, who became president and CEO of EAI in 2000, led Entergy Arkansas’ decision in 2005 to exit the long-standing System Agreement. McDonald championed Entergy Arkansas’ move to join the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, gaining greater access to more economic generation resources and saving Arkansas customers $46 million in the first year of participation.
McDonald will continue with Entergy Arkansas into the first half of 2016, working closely with Riley to ensure a smooth transition. In his new responsibility as group vice president, Riley will oversee customer service, economic development and resource planning. Riley has been vice president of transmission since 2010 where he was responsible for development and governance of transmission regulatory, compliance, planning, and asset management strategies for Entergy. 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,” said Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault. “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 announced a $62 million grid investment including a new transmission line and substation to serve industrial and commercial customers. Last year, EAI announced a proposed plan to acquire a generating unit at the Union Power Station near El Dorado. The $237 million investment will help modernize Entergy Arkansas' generation fleet and position the utility for growth for less than half the cost of a comparable, newly-built alternative. All total, from 2014 to 2017, Entergy Arkansas plans to invest $2.4 billion on generation, transmission and distribution improvements to the state’s electrical infrastructure.
Jim Schott most recently served as vice president, supply optimization where he led the Utility’s supply growth initiative. In this role, he worked with various departments across the company to ensure alignment in the development of generation and transmission projects designed to modernize Entergy’s grid and support the growing electricity demands of the region. Schott will report to Mark Savoff, executive vice president and chief operating officer. His duties with the supply optimization initiative will transition to other employees.
“Jim’s work the past two years on the generation and transmission portions of our growth strategy has provided outstanding preparation for his new role as leader of our transmission organization,” said Savoff. “He understands the needs of our customers, and he will be an excellent addition to the Operations team as we support the utility’s growth strategy.”
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $12 billion and approximately 13,000 employees.