The board of directors, which met in closed session in Raleigh, hired T. Graham Edwards of the Isle of Palms, S.C., for an annual salary of $530,000.
"I am thrilled about the opportunity afforded me to lead the ElectriCities organization," Edwards said. "There are many challenges facing the electric utility industry today and I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to working with the ElectriCities' board of directors, its staff, the commissioners of the two power agencies and the communities that ElectriCities serves.
Edwards replaces Jesse Tilton III who resigned in November after 13 years with ElectriCities. Tilton's resignation occurred following unrest from both public officials and ratepayers over recent rate hikes. Under his leadership, the wholesale cost of electricity increased by 14 percent in August 2008 and then rose another 4 percent in February. Tilton's salary was $436,283. His total compensation package, including 401K benefits and an automobile allowance, was $458,000.
Following Tilton's resignation, ElectriCities' interim CEO was Art Hubert, the organization's chief operating officer.
Edwards, who will start June 22, will oversee the management of ElectriCities' two public power agencies, the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency, which includes Wilson and 31 other municipalities in the eastern part of the state, and the N.C. Municipal Power Agency, which services 19 municipalities in the Piedmont and western part of the state. The two power agencies provide electricity to more than 500,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers and manage annual revenues of $1.2 billion.
Edwards recently retired after serving as president and CEO of the Midwest Independent System Operator, in Carmel, Ind., from 2006 to 2009. He also served on the organization's board of directors since 2001 and became its chairman in 2005.
MISO, a nonprofit, provides open electric transmission access in 14 Midwest states and parts of Canada.
Edwards began his 23-year career in the public power utility industry with the South Carolina Public Service Authority, known as Santee Cooper. He was the CEO of Santee Cooper from 1993 to 2000. He also worked in several senior level positions, including executive vice president and chief financial officer. Santee Cooper, with annual revenues of $1.2 billion, serves South Carolina's rural electric cooperatives and two municipally owned utilities with electricity from co-owned nuclear and coal generating facilities.
"Graham brings ElectriCities a wealth of proven generation, transmission and competitive rate utility experience," said Strib Boynton. ElectriCities board chairman. "He is well recognized as a proven leader in the public power business."