LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles city officials say they have found the right person to replace Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general manager Ron Nichols.
Marcie Edwards, who was just named Anaheim's city manager in July 2013, was nominated Thursday by Mayor Eric Garcetti to run the DWP, the largest public electric utility in the U.S.
Garcetti described Edwards in a statement as a person with the "toughness and expertise necessary to take on the status quo at the DWP and deliver real, lasting change for DWP customers."
If approved by the Los Angeles City Council, she will take charge of a water and power utility that serves more than 4 million customers and is in the middle of an $8.9 billion capital program expected to involve the issuance of $1 billion in bonds annually for several years.
For Edwards, who spent the first 24 years of her career at LADWP, it's a return to her roots.
"In my discussions with Mayor Garcetti, he made the mission at hand abundantly clear — to run this department like a business and leave politics at the door — and that is a mission I will gladly accept," Edwards said in a statement.
She began at LADWP as a clerk typist at the age of 19 rising through the ranks working in a series of increasingly responsible positions.
Those positions included steam plant assistant, plant equipment operator, load dispatcher, and finally assistant general manager in marketing and customer service. She then left to run Anaheim's water and power utility for 13 years before being named city manager last summer.
"She was the first woman to work in many of those positions — and now she would be the first woman to head LADWP," said Mel Levine, president of the LADWP board of commissioners.
After Ron Nichols, outgoing LADWP chief, told the department's board of commissioners he planned to step down in October, they convinced him to stay through Jan. 31, and then fervently began searching for a replacement, Levine said.
"The one name that came up from everywhere was Marcie Edwards," Levine said. "A cross section of people I had spoken with from the utility industry, from the environmental world, from the city world, from the water and power industry — all said if you could get Marcie Edwards to come back, she would be the perfect general manager."
Levine said they had a number of good people emerge as candidates, but Edwards stood out as the right choice.
"She is an insider-outsider," Levine said. "She is well-known and has come up through the ranks, but she has been gone for 13 years; and during that time, LADWP has, candidly, lost its luster."
The commission president added: "In case you can't tell, we are excited about her."
The LADWP commission will consider Garcetti's nomination of Edwards at its Feb. 4 meeting. Her appointment then has to be approved by the City Council. Levine said they hope Edwards will start by mid-February.
Current DWP Assistant General Manager Jim McDaniel will serve as the acting general manager until Edwards' confirmation.