With a career of more than 40 years with Nebraska Public Power District, including the past nine as president and chief executive officer, Pat Pope announced during Thursday’s board of directors meeting he plans to step down as president and CEO.

Pope said he expects to remain available to assist with transition and continue working on the district’s generation options for the future and rural e-connectivity initiatives.

In making the announcement, Pope told the board, “I didn’t know how long I would stay with NPPD when I began working here. As the years went by the opportunities kept coming, I stayed with the district and learned to appreciate what public power really means to our customers and the state.”

He said that 20 years into his 40-year journey, he was fortunate enough to be promoted to vice president, and the electric industry began to deregulate and decarbonization became an issue.

His tenure as president and CEO is the second longest in the 50 year history of NPPD, with Durwood “Woody” Hill serving 12 years from 1970 to 1982.

“It has been a pleasure working with Pat and I wish him and his wife, Jackie, the best in the coming years,” said board chairman Barry DeKay. “Some may be surprised with this announcement but Pat has been talking to the executive committee of the board for the past few months to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”

DeKay explained that as a result of those conversations, Tom Kent, currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been in discussions with the executive committee of the board to replace Pope.

It is expected that the executive committee of the board will recommend hiring Kent at the March board of directors meeting, NPPD officials said.

In looking at key developments in recent years under his leadership he pointed out that retail rates have remained stable going into a seventh consecutive year and wholesale rates for the past three years, Cooper Nuclear Station has earned excellence ratings from the Institute of Nuclear Plant Operators two of the past three evaluation cycles, a conversion project to burn hydrogen rather than coal as a fuel at Sheldon Station is currently in the design phase, and Gerald Gentleman Station continues to be one of the most cost effective power plants in the country.

Additionally, NPPD’s carbon free energy mix for Nebraska customers has averaged roughly 60 percent over the past five years, reaching 68 percent in 2019. “And while I know the future will be different, a solid foundation has been laid to help ensure the District’s ongoing success,” he added “After nine years as president and chief executive officer, now seems like a good time for me move on to the next chapter in my life. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and Jackie and I have lots bucket list items to begin checking off.”

Pope graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and earned a master’s degree in business administration in 1995. He joined NPPD in December 1979 as an electrical engineer.

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