CALLING IT QUITS | SierraSun.com

CALLING IT QUITS

Jamie Bate
Sierra Sun

Peter Holzmeister, general manager of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, tendered his resignation on Wednesday. The move comes about a week after district directors granted him a 7 percent pay raise on a 3-2 vote.

Holzmeister’s resignation follows a contentious last six months that included a high-profile battle over a 50-year, coal-fired electricity deal that was eventually abandoned by the district. The discord between board members and staff over the contract debate, as well as the split vote on Holzmeister’s raise ” from an annual income of $137,492 to $147,430 ” are likely reasons for the resignation, according to board member Ron Hemig.

Efforts to reach Holzmeister Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful. His resignation is effective Aug. 16. He was with the district for about 24 years.

In a statement, Hemig called the resignation a “great loss,” which he laid at the feet of two of his colleagues whom he did not name.

“I doubt that we can find somebody as thoroughly capable as [Holzmeister],” Hemig said. “Anybody who has attended or watched recent PUD meetings could see this coming. Peter has suffered intolerable treatment, particularly from two board members. Any reasonable person would have done the same thing.”

Directors Pat Sutton and Bill Thomason voted against Holzmeister’s raise on April 4, while Hemig and directors Tim Taylor and Joe Aguera voted in favor.

A special meeting has been called by the board for 4 p.m. Friday at the district headquarters to discuss the resignation, Sutton said Thursday. Following a call to order, public comment will be taken and then directors will go into closed session.

Whether directors will report out of closed session is unclear.

Board vice president Sutton will chair the meeting as board president Taylor is out of town.

Sutton said she was disappointed that Hemig commented about Holzmeister’s resignation ” and possible reasons for it ” prior to Friday’s meeting.

“I’m sorry he felt compelled to issue a statement,” she said. “The board needs to collect its thoughts. That was the purpose for the meeting.”

Sutton said discussion at Friday’s board meeting could include whether or not there are alternatives to Holzmeister’s timetable.

Hemig, meanwhile, said the board must unite to fill the position in a “coordinated and expeditious manner.”

“The board must also realize that it needs to immediately repair damaged relationships with remaining district staff before others follow Peter,” Hemig said. “I am not confident that all members of this board fully grasp the critical nature of these two objectives.”

Calls to Thomason and Aguera for comment were not returned as of Thursday afternoon.

The electric contract, which Holzmeister supported, was not only criticized locally, but also by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because of coal’s role in climate change.

Had district directors approved the contract prior to Dec. 31, 2006, it would have gone into effect days before a state law, backed by Schwarzenegger, doing away with such deals.

While there was some support in Truckee for the contract, which would have supplied the district with coal-fired electricity from a yet-to-be-built power plant in Utah, critics blasted Holzmeister and his staff for not pursuing green-power options more aggressively.