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December 6, 2013
From City of Alameda Press Release
General Manager Balachandran Leaving for Riverside Public Utilities
Girish Balachandran has been hired to serve as the General Manager of the City of Riverside’s Public Utilities (RPU). RPU is seven times larger than Alameda Municipal Power, has 107,500 electric customers and 64,600 water customers. The utility budget is $326 million and it has 652 approved positions. His last day in Alameda will be January 3.
Mr. Balachandran has been the General Manager of Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) since January 2007. He joined Alameda at a time when the department, then called Alameda Power and Telecom, was facing a crisis related to running its telecommunications business. Over the next two years, he led the effort to resolve the crisis, culminating with the sale of the underperforming telecom system to Comcast at the end of 2008.
“When Girish arrived in Alameda in 2007, the utility was in turmoil with a failing telecom business,” said Public Utility Board President Madeline Deaton. “Through a structured and collaborative process which included the City Council, Public Utilities Board, AMP employees and community, he guided the organization out of crisis and into stability."
“Although he will be missed, we all wish Girish the best in his new venture at Riverside Public Utilities," Deaton said.
“Girish turned AMP into one of the most successful public utilities in California,” said City Manager John Russo. “During his tenure he led AMP with an open communication style, a willingness to resolve difficult issues and a focus on strategic planning, resulting in a solid foundation to ensure AMP’s success in the future.”
“Riverside is an exciting challenge for Girish, he will serve the community well,” said Russo. “They’re lucky to get him; we will miss him.”
During his tenure in Alameda, Balachandran instituted a culture of strategic planning that has actively involved the Board and employees. He also led the development of goals and initiatives to maintain or achieve excellence in the utility's six Key Performance Areas of Safety & Compliance, Customer Satisfaction & Community Value, Reliability, Fiscal Performance, Environment, and Workforce.
Additionally, Balachandran led the effort to establish a five-year rate adjustment plan and financial policies that instituted reserve policies and bond coverage ratios. By implementing these changes as well as cutting financial losses of the telecom system by selling it, the bond rating of AMP was increased two notches from A- to A+ by Fitch and Standard & Poors.
Balachandran also led the employees of AMP to achieve the number one ranking in California for residential customer satisfaction. He worked to strengthen the culture of safety at AMP, which has resulted in more than five years without a lost work day incident.
In 2011, the utility was recognized by the American Public Power Association when it received the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Platinum designation for achieving excellence in various areas of utility operations.
In 2012, Balachandran worked with the community and the Board to sell excess renewable power for a short period of time and reinvest the proceeds of the sale in reducing greenhouse gas emissions even further. This initiative leveraged existing assets for the long-term benefit of the community.
Prior to joining Alameda, Balachandran worked for the City of Pasadena for one year as an analyst and the City of Palo Utilities for 16 years in various positions, including as Supply Resources Manager for four years and as Assistant Director of the Utilities Department for five years.