Lanny Nickell Named COO of Southwest Power Pool as Barbara Sugg Forms Team

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Southwest Power Pool named Lanny Nickell as executive vice president and chief operating officer at a board of directors meeting Tuesday in Little Rock, the company said in a news release.

Nickell is a two-decade veteran of the regional electric transmission organization, which has its headquarters on Worthen Drive in west Little Rock. Most recently, the University of Tulsa-trained engineer was SPP’s senior vice president of engineering.

SPP President Barbara Sugg, recently tapped to be the nonprofit corporation’s next CEO, praised Nickell’s commitment to the organization and to its culture: SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states and provides energy services on a contract basis.

“I’m confident that our operations, engineering and information technology groups will thrive under his leadership and vision,” Sugg said in a statement. She will take over soon for retiring CEO Nick Brown.

“After more than three decades of leadership at SPP, it’s with great pleasure and confidence that I see a new leadership team taking shape,” Brown said in the release. “SPP and its customers are in good hands with Barbara and Lanny at the helm.”

“It is a rare situation when a board is called upon to fill both the CEO and COO positions at the same time,” said Larry Altenbaumer, chair of SPP’s board. “It is even rarer for a board to have the luxury of the opportunity to select an individual of Lanny’s caliber to become its new COO. He is a natural complement to SPP’s new CEO, Barbara Sugg, and together — with the other outstanding leaders within SPP — they will help create SPP’s next amazing chapter in providing extraordinary value to SPP’s members and end use customers.”

As SVP of engineering, Nickell’s duties included developing regional transmission expansion plans, overseeing financial congestion hedging services, administrating regional resource adequacy policies, and providing engineering support to reliability and market operations. He developed a vision and strategy for SPP’s 165-person engineering organization and its leadership, the company said.

Nickell brings 27 years of transmission planning and operations experience into the new position. He joined SPP in 1997 as an operations engineer, became part of the management team in 1998, and was promoted to vice president of operations in 2008.

He now serves as staff secretary for SPP’s Markets and Operations Policy Committee and on several community and charity boards. His Tulsa degree is in electrical engineering, and he’s a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

“I’m excited about SPP’s future and consider myself blessed to be part of its executive team,” Nickell said in the release. “I look forward to working closely with Barbara in her new role, our board of directors and our tremendously talented staff and stakeholders as we continue building upon SPP’s vast history of success. I’m confident we will find new and creative ways to maximize value in the services we provide to our members and customers.”  

In other news, members elected Bronwen Bastone of New York City to the board of directors. The company said Bastone has about 20 years of human resources and human capital strategy experience.