JMEC Board of Trustees Launches Search for Next Chief Executive
Search Follows Michael Hastings Recent Retirement Announcement
ESPAÑOLA, N.M., October 18, 2023 – The board of trustees of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, Inc., (JMEC) has launched a national search for the cooperative’s next chief executive. Michael Hastings, the JMEC’s current CEO and general manager, notified the board at the trustee’s September meeting of his plan to retire. His last day will be Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
“Michael set a very high bar as our cooperative’s professional staff leader,” said Dennis Trujillo, JMEC’s board president. “His deep experience, incredible work ethic and ability to work alongside trustees and staff to get difficult things done will be hard to match. We are determined to keep to that exceptional standard when we select who next will take on this critical role.”
The search effort will work to balance attributes such as experience in executive leadership, electric cooperatives and the energy sector as well as relevant professional education and training. The national search will include consideration of eligible, local candidates.
“In the end, this is about our members,” added Trujillo. “They are better served today because of Michael’s leadership, and we are committed to keeping what is in the best interests of our members at the forefront of this process to find his successor.”
Trujillo called out just a few of the transformative improvements that occurred under Hastings’ watch with the board’s governance:
- Prioritizing transparency and member communications through special member and district meetings.
- Improving JMEC’s operations by implementing recommendations from a forensic audit completed early on in Hastings’ tenure.
- Steering the cooperative through crushing pandemic-related revenue losses as well as Medio fire- and Cerro Pelado fire-related revenue and infrastructure losses.
- Navigating JMEC’s first rate increase in 10 years that helped stabilize the cooperative’s finances while staying the third lowest rate among the 11 cooperatives served by Tri-State G&T at the time. Due to other rate cases since then, JMEC’s rates are now the second lowest among Tri-State’s New Mexico cooperatives.
- Completing an exhaustive State of the Cooperative assessment which is now guiding long-deferred maintenance and investment in our electric system that will make it safer and more reliable for our members.
- Completing long-delayed Right-of-Way agreements with our neighboring pueblos.
- Doggedly addressing roadblocks to JMEC’s planned 50 percent buyout of the Tri-State wholesale power contract that have delayed the cooperative’s offering more solar to members.
- Bringing quality, high-speed internet to our members at their overwhelming request in a way that will pay for itself.
- Beginning much needed bylaw amendments requiring member approval – an initiative that had not happened for 30 years. One of the positive effects of the bylaws that have been updated so far – with a now-achievable quorum requirement, the power of the vote has been returned to members.
Hastings came out of retirement to serve JMEC, joining the cooperative in March 2021. Previously, he served as the chief executive at cooperatives in Illinois and Virginia; was a founding board member of National Renewables Cooperative Organization, a nationwide cooperative established to provide renewable energy generation projects for U.S. cooperatives; served as general counsel for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives as well as for the Kansas Department of Revenue and more. He holds a law degree, an MBA and a degree in accounting.
While the board of trustees is looking to complete the search as quickly as possible, “We must have the right candidate, not just a right-now candidate,” Trujillo said. “JMEC has had a succession plan in place for more than a year. It includes provisions for an interim leader if such is needed.”