Santee Cooper Board names Mark Bonsall new CEO
Board approves Charles Duckworth as Deputy CEO, Chief Planning Officer
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – The Santee Cooper Board of Directors today named Mark Bonsall, a proven utility executive who most recently served as CEO of the Salt River Project (SRP), as its new President and CEO. Bonsall brings 41 years of experience with one of the nation’s largest, strongest and most progressive public power utilities, as well as a distinguished record as an innovative change agent focused on customers and employees.
The Santee Cooper Board also approved the hiring of Charles Duckworth as Deputy CEO and Chief of Planning. Duckworth, who also has more than four decades of experience at SRP, will focus on future resource planning for Santee Cooper.
Bonsall retired from SRP last year and takes the helm of Santee Cooper immediately.
Bonsall has a strong background in public power finance and operations. SRP is one of the Southwest’s largest and most progressive power utilities, and one of the nation’s largest public power companies with nearly 5,100 employees, more than 1 million electric customers and 8,801 megawatts (MWs) of generation available to serve its peak load. Under Bonsall’s tenure, SRP increased revenues to eliminate the need to borrow money for the foreseeable future, while also increasing the competitiveness of its customer rates.
“Mark brings demonstrated leadership and expertise in all areas that are important to Santee Cooper’s customers and to the state. In addition to building SRP’s financial strength, he has made key decisions that reduced customers’ rates,” said Dan Ray, Santee Cooper Acting Chairman. “He closed a large coal-fired generating station and replaced it with a mixture of gas-fired capacity and utility-scale renewables. Additionally, his leadership and focus on high quality customer service helped SRP earn 42 separate JD Power awards. With these qualifications and experience, Mark will personally lead the reform team, ensuring that Santee Cooper’s reform effort is substantial and credible.”
“Santee Cooper is a cornerstone to the quality of life and economic prosperity that many South Carolinians enjoy today, and there is still work to be done,” Bonsall said. “I understand the frustration many have over the cancelled nuclear project and debt associated with that, but I know that Santee Cooper can pay off that debt and maintain low customer rates and excellent customer service. South Carolina benefits from a healthy energy sector that includes public power. My job is to prove to customers and the state that Santee Cooper should remain part of South Carolina for generations to come.”
Bonsall today begins a series of listening sessions with Santee Cooper employees, customers and other stakeholders. He will also work with managers and Board members preparing the utility’s restructuring and reform proposal, which Santee Cooper expects to submit to the state Department of Administration later this year.
"The sequence of events leading to suspension of the V.C. Summer project has tested the trust of state leaders and customers in Santee Cooper, which is understandable,” Bonsall said. “I am committed to working with the state and our customers to rebuild that trust.”
Duckworth is an electrical power system planner and strategist with deep experience in traditional and alternative fuel sources, most recently as Chief Strategy, Resource Planning and Acquisitions Executive at SRP. His accomplishments include expanding SRP’s generation portfolio by nearly 6,000 MWs improving its reliability and increasing its diversity at the same time. He led initiatives to add over 600 MWs of wind, biomass, solar, solar plus batteries, and geothermal renewable generation for SRP customers. That and the purchase of another 2,500 MWs of natural gas generation helped reduce CO2 intensity and keep customer costs among the most competitive in the Southwest.
“Santee Cooper is fortunate to have someone with Charlie’s expertise in transforming generation capacity and keeping customer costs low,” Ray said. “That experience will be critical as Santee Cooper works to maintain our own low customer costs while we evaluate options to further increase our own generation diversity going forward.”
Duckworth said, “Santee Cooper is consistently recognized for its excellent reliability in generation, transmission and distribution, which tells me there is a great team in place. I look forward to seeing what else we can accomplish in these key areas to bring even more benefit to all of Santee Cooper’s residential, commercial, industrial and wholesale customers across South Carolina.”
Duckworth has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Northern Arizona University and an MBA from Arizona State University.