Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Westar Energy CEO announces retirement

April 26, 2007


Westar CEO Haines announces retirement

The state's largest electricity utility is losing its top executive Jim Haines, a resident of rural Lawrence, to retirement. Enlarge video

Jim Haines, a rural Lawrence resident who helped lead Westar Energy Inc. out of debt, is retiring in June as the utility's chief executive officer, the company announced Wednesday.

Haines will be replaced by William Moore, Westar's president and chief operating officer, who has worked at the company during all but two of the past 29 years.

"We are confident that the company will continue to succeed under Bill's leadership," Charles Q. Chandler IV, Westar's chairman, said in a statement. "The board also thanks Jim Haines for his great leadership and unwavering commitment to Westar's success."

Haines originally left retirement in 2002 to become CEO. At the time, Westar's stock was at $8.50 a share, the company had debt of $3.6 billion and the operation was wrapping up a year in which it would lose $793.4 million, or $11.06 cents a share.

Under Haines' leadership, Westar soon sold Protection One Inc. - a monitored-security company that later moved to Lawrence - as well as Westar's stake in ONEOK, an Oklahoma natural gas company. The moves were designed to cut debt and focus on Westar's core purpose: generating electricity.

Last year, Westar reported $164.3 million in profit, good for $1.88 per share, on revenues of $1.61 billion, up $53.1 million from a year earlier.

"We are no longer focused on solving past problems," Haines said Wednesday in a letter to employees. "Now, from a solid base, we are focused on turning tomorrow's challenges into opportunities."

Westar, which recently broke ground on a $318 million peaking plant at the Emporia Energy Center, is the state's largest electric utility, providing service to about 669,000 customers. A total of 160 of its 2,200 employees work in Lawrence.


lmm 11 years ago

Yeah, now there is the answer..........

rhd99 11 years ago

ABW (anyone BUT WITTIG). CEOs are CEOs, greedy & egotistical. Jim Haines (though under him prices have SKYROCKETED) has been a breath of fresh air now that the pollutants of Wittig (knock on wood) are eliminated.

snowWI 11 years ago

How about implementing the most modern pollution control devices for the ANCIENT power plants in Topeka and Lawrence. These plants were built in the 1950s. Many were not required to upgrade because they were built before the clean air act in the 1970s. KCP&L utility in Kansas City is already making upgrades on existing coal plants so that they will be some of the "cleanest" in the country. Westar is way behind the curve. The Jaffrey Energy Center is also one of the dirtiest plants in the country.

Paul Geisler 11 years ago

Will you whiners get over your Wittig issues and move on!!! He hasn't been with Westar for over 5 years now so I think you should blame someone else if you think your electric rates are too high! Westar's infrastructure needs a lot of work, and the shareholders certainly don't want to pay for it!

Of course I'm sure you'll have plenty to say when all is said and done in the court of law which we should know more about on April 30..........afterwhich Westar will probably have to pay Wittig and Lake what arbitration awarded them in the first place, plus most of their legal fees!

Basically Westar screwed up when they slandered Wittig & Lake by posting their internal report on the Westar website which included a bunch of hyped-up allegations (a report which cost them $7M). Had they tried a more logical & civil approach Westar could have settled this issue in arbitration without having to pay any of their legal fees, and probably not as much of their compensation.

But let's not forget about the Feds who quickly jumped on Westar's bandwagon and started throwing around this term "looting". I still say there is something fishy going on between U.S. Attorney Richard "Dick" Hathaway, James Zakoura (the prosecutions lead witness), and Judge Julie Robinson (a former colleague of Hathaway's). Hopefully this will all come out eventually. Perhaps all the scrutiny of the eight U.S. Attorneys that were fired recently will reveal that Hathaway (and his boss Eric Melgren) was pressured to go after Wittig because of his cozy ties with Sebelius in the run-up to her campaign for governor??? I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of the Kansas Republicans pushed for that because they despised the fact that a rich corporate executive like Wittig was friends with a Democratic candidate for governor of a Republican state!

Sigmund 11 years ago

Interesting theory magnus, but Wittig is a crook. You forget to mention the bank loan fraud and money laundering convictions connected with that fraud still stand. It was the mistakes of the prosecutors that freed Wittig on the Westar looting case. Incompetent prosecution is different from innocence.

"But the three-judge panel said prosecutors didn't provide evidence that Wittig and Lake failed to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations on reporting that personal use, and the jury wasn't told what the SEC required. Without that evidence, the court said, Wittig and Lake aren't guilty of wire fraud and can't be retried on those counts because doing so would expose them to unconstitutional "double jeopardy."

No where does it say he didn't do just that the prosecution screwed up. He can still be charged with the conspiracy and circumvention counts and think he will be. You are asking us to believe he would defraud a ban, but not a public utility, and I'm just not buying it.

terrapin2 11 years ago

The bank case was a set-up as far as I'm concerned. Weidner's assistant handled the transfer and used the wrong account! Had the money come from another bank, and not Capital City Bank, the deal would have been legal! Not to mention, deals like that happen regularly in cities all across the nation. As for Wittig's guilt in the Westar case, you can go on believing what you want. He may have acted inappropriately at Westar but I still don't believe his actions were criminal. The Feds tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill and where has that taken them? The appellate court did poke some holes in the Feds case, beyond having pointed out the faults of the prosecution and the judges rulings. They blasted the Feds notion that their was some grand conspiracy to loot the utility and the Fed's repeated attempts to tie the Westar case to the bank fraud case. The Feds really need to give up on their fairytale story about how Wittig's personal loan to Weidner was a tit-for-tat so Capital City Bank could float $20M in loans to Wittig and other execs at Westar to buy stock after the merger with PUNM. How absurd to think that they would turn to a small-time local bank for that kind of corporate business. I guess we'll find out on April 30th if the Feds have the balls to try for a third trial, or enough sense to drop the case and let Wittig and Lake get on with their lives.

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