Michael L. Smith assumes the helm of Oglethorpe on Nov. 6, replacing Tom Smith, no relation, who had held the post for nearly 14 years. Oglethorpe’s six-member executive committee that Tom Smith put in place has been running the company since his illness and will continue until the new president is in place.
Oglethorpe’s board conducted a national search but wound up selecting someone from within the same building.
“We were impressed with Mike’s work experience, industry knowledge and leadership capabilities and are confident in his ability to continue to move Oglethorpe forward in order to meet the energy needs of our members,” said Benny Denham, chairman of Oglethorpe’s board of directors.
Mike Smith has been president of Georgia Transmission Corp. since 2005, the autonomous company that operates the network transporting the electrons from Oglethorpe’s 7,000 megawatts of generation to the 38 electric membership corporations across the state that own both companies.
Oglethorpe generates electricity with natural gas, water power, coal and nuclear fuel. The new president will face growing pressure from the solar industry to allow customers to lease their rooftops to outside firms that would sell them electricity in return, something Georgia law does not allow. Legislation pending before the General Assembly would change that if enacted, and Oglethorpe and the state’s other electric utilities would lose some of their monopoly status.
Another major issue for the new president is the question of cost overruns during the expansion of Plant Vogtle. The schedule has already been delayed, and the plant’s owners are suing the contractor over who is to blame for exceeding the budget.
Mike Smith said he’s eager to build on the legacy of Tom Smith.
“I look forward to the challenge and opportunity to provide our members with reliable and cost-effective electric service,” he said.