Puget Sound Energy selects Mary E. Kipp, of El Paso Electric, as new company president

Kipp led El Paso Electric toward cleaner, coal-free electricity generation.

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) announced Monday, July 1, that it has named Mary E. Kipp, former CEO of El Paso Electric in El Paso, Texas, as its company president.

As president of PSE, Kipp will report to CEO Kimberly Harris and, according to a press release, is anticipated to take over as CEO of PSE once Harris retires in January 2020.

PSE spokesperson Christina Donegan said Kipp’s “spirit of collaboration” with customers and stakeholders and her in-depth knowledge of responsible practices in the utilities sector left an indelible impression on the company’s board members. Kipp’s commitment to clean and affordable energy — and her track record of achieving it — was cited as evidence that she shares the vision of PSE.

“El Paso [Electric] has been a leader on clean energy and carbon reduction,” Donegan said. “They were really the first of the utilities in their area to generate 100 percent coal-free electricity, and that’s something that’s really important here locally.”

“As we look at change, we need to make sure we’re making thoughtful, balanced progress, and not progress that’s either going to negatively impact safety, reliability or our customer’s bills,” Kipp said. “It was a little difficult taking a different position than some of our utility peers, but because it was what our customers wanted and because it made economic sense, we were able to do it.”

Kipp mentioned Thomas V. Shockley, her predecessor at EPE’s helm, as a mentor who emphasized transparency and involvement with community members — a modus operandi she assured will continue in her role as PSE president.

“It’s been a privilege to know and serve the El Paso community,” Kipp said. “Energy providers, we rise and fall as the community rises and falls, and I hope that I have that same privilege when I go to Puget, because community involvement is at the core of who I am.”

Before stepping into her role as EPE’s chief exec in 2015, she spent eight years there working in a variety of roles: risk management, human resources, external affairs, regulatory, customer service, environmental and even legal.

“Kimberly [Harris] has been someone who I’ve always had a lot of respect for, and to be able to learn from her and follow in her footsteps, I just couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Kipp said. “I’m really excited about the work her and her team have done.”