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Mele retires to take ERCOT job

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 by Jo Clifton

After General Manager Larry Weis announced last week that he was leaving Austin Energy to become the chief executive officer of Seattle City Light, many utility observers thought that Cheryl Mele, AE’s chief operating officer and deputy general manager, was a very likely prospect to take over the top spot. However, on Monday, Mele announced that she will be joining ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, as COO and senior vice president. Her new job entails electric grid operations as well as wholesale operations. She will be retiring from Austin Energy after 24 years of service on Dec. 31 and plans to start her new job on Jan. 18. In her current position, Mele has been named as the highest-paid woman at the city of Austin, with a salary of $218,899. She declined to say how much she would be paid at ERCOT, but she did allow that she would be getting a raise. According to the Austin American-Statesman, “In 2009, the highest paid ERCOT executive was then-CEO Bob Kahn, who earned $585,000.” Kahn was also a former Austin Energy executive. Mele told the Austin Monitor, “I’m going to miss the people at Austin Energy and providing service directly to the community.” She will no longer be worrying about Austin Energy’s line crews when there is bad weather, she said, but when there is bad weather across the state, such as the extreme cold snap that affected the entire state a couple of years ago, she will be worrying about the whole grid.

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