By Rich Heidorn Jr.
NERC placed CEO Gerry Cauley on a leave of absence Saturday after he was arrested for domestic violence at his home outside Atlanta.
According to local media reports, Cauley, 64, of Duluth, Ga., was briefly held Friday in the Gwinnett County jail on charges of battery/family violence, a misdemeanor. (See related story, Cauley Arrest Tied to Relationship with NERC Subordinate.)
The NERC Board of Trustees posted a notice saying it “is aware of the personal incident involving” Cauley and naming General Counsel Charles Berardesco as interim CEO. Cauley is on a leave of absence “until further notice,” the board said, adding that it is “taking steps to ensure the work of NERC continues seamlessly.”
Reached by phone before the statement was posted, NERC Board Chairman Roy Thilly declined to say whether he had spoken to Cauley but said he had been released from jail.
“I don’t want to discuss any further what our process is,” he said. “Obviously the board is aware, and we need to proceed very deliberately and expeditiously to determine what the facts are.”
Asked whether NERC was aware of any prior history of domestic abuse, Thilly said, “Not to my knowledge.”
A FERC spokeswoman said the agency had no comment.
Cauley, who has led NERC as CEO for nearly eight years, is a familiar face in D.C., often testifying before Congress and FERC.
He holds a bachelor’s in math and electrical engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a master’s in nuclear engineering from the University of Maryland and an MBA from Loyola University.
He served as the program manager for grid operations and planning at the Electric Power Research Institute and served five years as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before joining NERC in 1996.
As vice president and director of standards, he helped prepare NERC’s application to become the FERC-certified Electric Reliability Organization after the 2005 Energy Policy Act gave the commission the power to enact mandatory reliability standards.
He left NERC in March 2007 to become CEO of SERC Reliability Corp., returning as CEO in January 2010.
He earned $757,481 in salary and $80,985 in other compensation in 2015 according to NERC’s IRS form 990. NERC, which employs about 230, has a 2018 budget of almost $73 million.
Berardesco, who goes by “Charlie,” joined NERC as general counsel in July 2012 after more than nine years at Constellation Energy, where he served as senior vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.
Before Constellation, Berardesco practiced law and served in executive positions at Fusara, a consortium of AIG, Kemper and Prudential, and HCIA, a health-care information company.
He has a bachelor’s in political science from Duke University and a law degree from George Washington University, where he was managing editor of The George Washington Law Review and now serves on the dean’s board of advisors.
According to his NERC biography, his other nonprofit endeavors include serving as chair of Duke University Chapel’s advisory board; board chair of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and a member of the Business Council of the Human Rights Campaign.
Among his awards and recognition: named one of the top 10 “GC’s to Watch” by The Corporate Board magazine; named a Leader in the Law by The Daily Record; and winner of the Out and Proud Corporate Counsel award by the National LGBT Bar Association.
He earned about $494,000 in 2015.