Last week, The Gazette requested the salary and incentive payout history for Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte.
Utilities spokesman Dave Grossman provided the information late Monday – along with five pages of additional information “to provide some context.”
Here is the information that Grossman provided via email:
To provide some context, I’ve included the compensation for CEOs of some neighboring electric providers.
CEO of Xcel Energy = $1.18 million base salary. Total 2009 compensation including stocks and incentives = $7.02 million.
President and CEO of Black Hills Energy, (serves Pueblo and some rural areas of Colorado) $353,769 base salary. Total compensation including stocks and other compensation: $1.78 million in 2010.
CEO/President of Nebraska Public Power District – base salary = $395,000 base salary in 2010.
President and CEO of CPS Energy, the municipally owned utility in San Antonio, Texas = $360,000 base salary in 2010.
The 2010 Nebraska Public Power Executive survey reports $333,502 as the 50th percentile data point for base salaries. Utilities included in the survey: Austin Energy, Chelan County Public Utility District No. 1, Clark Public Utilities, Colorado Springs Utilities, CPS Energy, ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc., JEA, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Lower Colorado River Authority, MEAG Power, Nebraska Public Power District (Survey Sponsor), New York Power Authority, Omaha Public Power District, Orlando Utilities Commission, Platte River Power Authority, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Salt River Project, Santee Cooper, Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utilities District, Tacoma Public Utilities – Tacoma Power.
Many of the utilities in the survey only provide electric service. The CEO for Colorado Springs Utilities requires not just electric expertise, but also needs to effectively run natural gas operations and deal with the complexities of providing water to a large city far from a major water source. Wastewater service provides a fourth level of knowledge and expertise that a Colorado Springs Utilities CEO must possess.
Under Jerry Forte’s leadership, Colorado Springs Utilities has prepared for the future and delivered on the mission to provide safe, reliable and competitively-priced utility services to our customers and citizen-owners. Some of the accomplishments as chief operating officer and to date as chief executive officer:
Front Range Power Plant: We took the opportunity in 2010 to acquire 100 percent of this power facility, which went online in 2003. By owning the entire facility, we will increase the amount of natural gas-generated electricity received by the community, delay the need to build new electric plants and avoid potentially higher electric market prices.
Power Plant Emissions Reduction: In 2007, we began a partnership with Neumann Systems Group to test revolutionary technology to remove sulfur dioxide emissions. The partnership may enable us to meet new air quality standards at about half the cost of conventional technology. The technology may help Colorado Springs Utilities, and our customers, avoid more than $100 million in emissions control costs over the next several years. The equipment would be built here in Colorado Springs and eventually could be sold to other utilities in the U.S.
Power Plant Reliability Improvements: Initiatives to increase plant reliability have been very successful, resulting in industry leading plant availability and forced outage rates during 2009 and 2010, saving millions of dollars in avoided purchased power costs.
Cascade Hydro-electric Unit: We completed construction of our fourth hydroelectric unit on the north slope of Pikes Peak in 2009. The Cascade Hydro Facility brings our total hydro-electric generating capacity to 35 megawatts. Construction was financed with federal, low-interest, clean renewable energy bonds.
Manitou Hydro Plant Expansion: In December 2005, the one hundred year anniversary of the Manitou Hydro Plant, we added a new unit 543 kW unit. The water source for this unit is the Old North Slope Line.
Drake Conversion to Non Potable Water: Changing the plant’s cooling system from potable to non-potable water occurred in June 2004 and was designed to save three to four million gallons of drinking water per day in the summer months. This was especially important during the drought.
Natural Gas Pipeline Safety: In 2009, we removed the final portion of cast iron pipe – installed in 1907 – from our natural gas system. Replacing cast iron with new plastic pipe increases service reliability and safety.
Underground line rejuvenation: About 75 percent of our electric system is underground, offering citizens unobstructed mountain views and reliable service. In 2005, we started a cable injection program that extends the life of aged cable by 20 years or more. The process is clean, quiet and less costly than replacing buried cable.
Southern Delivery System Under Construction: Substantial progress has been made to advance the Southern Delivery System from planning to construction. With the major permits in place, significant construction activities are underway and moving forward this year. SDS will provide water for current and future customers. The project provides essential redundancy for an aging water system and better prepares us for future changes in our environment, such as drought, climate variability and water supply uncertainty on the Colorado River. It also maximizes the investment El Paso county residents have made in the Pueblo Reservoir.
The Otero Pipeline Expansion Project allowed an additional 13 million gallons a day of raw water delivery capacity for Colorado Springs.
Wastewater Treatment Improvements: The $80 million JD Phillips Water Reclamation Facility became operational in 2007, initially adding 20 million gallons a day of system treatment capacity and flexibility. The enclosed facility meets the needs of customers in the northern part of our community. In 2011, a new ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system was officially brought on-line at the Las Vegas Street Wastewater Treatment Plant and all of the flow through the plant is now being disinfected by this system. The UV system replaces the former chlorine gas to disinfect the wastewater effluent prior to discharge. The UV system offers benefits to both the plant and community and is another demonstration of our ongoing commitments to Fountain Creek.
Wastewater Collection Improvements: Since 2002, we have invested more than $150 million on wastewater collection system maintenance and improvements. This comprehensive program to assess and rehabilitate the more than 1,600 miles of pipelines with 370 creek crossings includes not only the pipelines, but also hardening of stream crossings and rehabilitation of more than 6,000 manholes. As a result, the quantity and magnitude of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) have been dramatically reduced and we are among statewide leaders in wastewater system investments. In addition, this investment in collection system integrity has paid dividends in wastewater treatment by significantly reducing inflow and infiltration and extending the existing treatment capacity.
Wastewater Master Planning: In 2007-2009, long-term wastewater master planning efforts identified lower-cost alternatives to serve long-term growth on the eastern portion of the City. This solution eliminated the need for a new treatment plant and related pipeline interceptor, and instead would provide for treatment through the Las Vegas Street Wastewater Treatment Plant and allow for improved use of treatment capacity at the JD Phillips Water Reclamation Facility.
Water Main Replacement Program: This long-term capital program provides for ongoing evaluation and replacement of water distribution infrastructure, including pipelines and vaults, to ensure safe and reliable drinking water for our customers. Using asset management data to identify and prioritize critical mains, the current 20-year program will invest $6-7 million per year in this infrastructure. As a result of this investment, the average disruptions in water service per 1,000 customers has decreased 25% over the last three-year period.
Watershed Access: With public input we completed a watershed access concept plan for proposed access on South Slope and began trail construction in 2010. Also last year our wildland fire team in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service conducted a successful, low-intensity prescribed burn on the North Slope of Pikes Peak to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.
City Parks Irrigation: In 2010, city parks irrigation systems were improved by installing efficient sprinkler heads, rains sensors and irrigation controllers in an effort to help the city conserve water and stretch their budget. These improvements and a tiered water conservation rate applied to 132 parks led to a water decrease of nearly 40 percent.
Smart Grid Technology: Automated Meter Reading is now fully deployed throughout Colorado Springs. The project was completed in the first half of 2010, one year ahead of schedule, $4.7 million under budget and with a reduction of 70 positions. More than 535,000 meters are now automated. In the future this system will enable new services that can be used to help our customers better manage their bills.
Customer Satisfaction: J.D. Power and Associates has consistently ranked our community-owned utility as top performer in the region and nation in areas such as power quality and reliability, price, billing and payment, communications, corporate citizenship and customer service
System Growth (from 2002-10): System growth over the last eight years was extensive. Electric total circuit, which includes overhead and underground transmission and distribution lines, grew 11.7%. The underground portion of the distribution system grew 19.7%. The total electric circuit miles grew to 3,543 miles. Likewise, the gas distribution system grew 15.1% with a total of 2,368 miles. The water potable distribution system grew 10% with a total of 1,958 miles. And, the wastewater collection system grew 11.6% with a total of 1,629 miles.
Energy Vision: Because we are a citizen-owned utility, we have a tremendous opportunity to partner with customers to address how electricity is used and produced. Our proposed energy vision establishes goals for renewable energy, electric rates and customer energy efficiency. All three are critical to achieve a balanced energy plan that addresses environmental and economic concerns. By 2020, Colorado Springs Utilities will provide 20 percent of its total electric energy through renewable sources; help reduce average customer electric use by 10 percent; and maintain a 20 percent regional cost advantage.
Fountain Creek Commitment: We are committed to improving our system and protecting area streams. We have invested more than $120 million on wastewater collection system maintenance and improvements and we will invest a total of $300 million by 2018. As a result, our spills per 100 miles of pipe are among the lowest in the nation, and we are among statewide leaders in wastewater system investments. In addition, this investment in collection system integrity has paid dividends in wastewater treatment by significantly reducing inflow and infiltration and extending the existing treatment capacity.
The Fountain Creek Recovery Project provides our customers and downstream neighbors added protection from accidental spills. The project can divert contaminated water from Fountain Creek to an 18.5 million gallon recovery pond. The water is then transferred to our Las Vegas Street wastewater plant for treatment.
Air Force Academy Solar Array: Colorado Springs Utilities is working with the USAFA to build a six megawatt solar array on the Academy. The project is funded by the USAFA using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. Financed by federal stimulus funds, the array will help the Academy meet its power requirements and serve as a model for other military installations. We expect construction to be complete this spring.
Energy Efficiency: We’ve responded to customer interest in renewable resources by launching the Renewable Energy Rebate Program encouraging the installation of solar photovoltaic generating systems at customer homes and businesses. This helps protect the environment, diversifies our energy supply, creates energy independence and reduces summer peak capacity requirements
We also partnered with the Governor’s Energy Office to offer our customers additional savings on the purchase of energy-saving appliances, furnaces and hot water heaters. Our Environmental Center has become a one-stop shop for all things energy and water efficiency, featuring an extensive resource library, hands-on displays and Xeriscape demonstration garden.
Economic Development: We award contracts to most qualified, cost-conscious bidders. Yet, with a focus on helping improve our local economy, our staff has still been able to award an average $64.4 million in local contracts each of the last three years by reaching out to our business community and keeping contractors informed of our procurement procedures to give them the best possible chance of securing work from us. Local contracts account for 37.4 percent of total spending, surpassing our goal of 30 percent.
Competitive Energy Bills: Utility bills are 13 percent lower in Colorado Springs compared to the national average, according to the 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index. Colorado Springs Utilities keeps its electric rates low through efficient operations and by generating most of the electricity for the community at its local power plants. A proactive hedging program, long-term contracts and use of underground storage help keep natural gas rates low and relatively stable.
Gas Pre-pay Program: We launched our natural gas pre-pay program saving customers about $150 million over the next three decades. In addition, we’ve maintained some of the highest bond ratings for utilities in the country. Only six other utilities – private or public – have better ratings than us. This means we can continue to secure capital, qualify for low interest rates and save millions of dollars for our customers.
Workforce Optimization: Even through tough economic conditions we’ve been able to eliminate 200 positions without layoffs while serving more customers. An additional $16 million was cut from our operations and maintenance budget without significantly compromising customer service.
Employee Volunteerism: Year after year we break records for donating thousands of hours to local charities and nonprofit agencies to make our community a better place. Last year was another record-breaking year for employee volunteerism – nearly 23,000 hours in total.