Utilities

APS CEO Don Brandt Will Retire in November

Pinnacle West CEO Don Brandt.
Pinnacle West CEO Don Brandt. YouTube
Don Brandt is stepping down.

Brandt, the CEO of Arizona Public Service and its parent company Pinnacle West, will retire November 15, 2019, the company announced Wednesday.

APS President Jeff Guldner, who was promoted to that position last year, will replace him, the company said in a news release.

His departure comes in the midst of a challenging year for the state's largest and most powerful utility. It has taken a beating in the court of public opinion amid complaints of corporate greed, disclosures of political spending more profligate than previously known, and the heat-related death of a customer after the utility cut her power in September 2018.

This spring, regulators at the Corporation Commission, particularly Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, finally forced the company to disclose the millions of dollars in dark money it spent on political campaigns in the past five years.

click to enlarge Protesters gather on June 20 outside the Phoenix Art Museum, where APS CEO Don Brandt was slated to receive an achievement award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. - ELIZABETH WHITMAN
Protesters gather on June 20 outside the Phoenix Art Museum, where APS CEO Don Brandt was slated to receive an achievement award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
Elizabeth Whitman
A formal complaint filed by local activist Stacey Champion elevated longstanding concerns that the utility was making too much money off of its captive customers.

In June, it emerged that 72-year-old Stephanie Pullman died of heat-related causes last September after APS cut power to her house on a 107-degree day over $51 she owed the utility.

Brandt is still scheduled to appear before Corporation Commissioners on September 4 to answer 67 questions related to APS' disconnection policies, its rates, and other customer deaths.

A spokesperson for APS did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the timing of Brandt's decision or the factors that led to it.

In its release, the Pinnacle West board released a statement that it had worked "for some time" to "develop an orderly succession plan."
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Elizabeth Whitman was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from March 2019 to April 2020.