General Counsel Named Interim CEO
By Rich Heidorn Jr.
CEO Brad Jones abruptly left NYISO this week and will be replaced, at least temporarily, by General Counsel Robert Fernandez.
The ISO’s Board of Directors announced Fernandez’s appointment as interim CEO in a press release Wednesday.
Kevin Lanahan, vice president of external affairs, declined to elaborate beyond the press release, except to say Jones’ departure was “a personal decision by Brad.”
Stakeholders told RTO Insider that senior ISO officials have told them the news was a surprise to them. “It’s a really big mystery … it came out of nowhere,” said a stakeholder, who, like others interviewed for this story, asked not to be identified. “Usually there’s a transition announced. We’re shocked. … We’re all sort of in the dark on this.”
A second stakeholder said the ISO’s vice presidents were not informed of Jones’ departure until Wednesday morning — shortly before the press release was issued — so they could brief their subordinates. “Secrets like this don’t keep very well. So, the limited subset of people who did know didn’t know for long,” he said.
Asked whether Jones had fallen out with stakeholders, he said “there’s always dissatisfaction” with ISO actions. “I guess they wouldn’t be doing their jobs right if they didn’t piss most of the people off” occasionally. But he said Jones had a reputation for being “even-handed and open to input. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say a bad thing about the guy — which is pretty unusual.”
Jones, who joined NYISO from ERCOT, was commuting regularly from the ISO’s offices to his home in West Texas, according to sources. He had said he would not move permanently to New York while he had school-age daughters in Texas. He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The Board of Directors tapped Fernandez as interim CEO at a meeting Tuesday. Stakeholders said Jones attended a Liaison Committee meeting with the board Tuesday and that there was no hint that it would be his last.
Lanahan declined to say whether the board intended to keep Fernandez as CEO or would launch a search for a successor.
NYISO Board Chair Ave Bie, former chair of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, praised Gonzales in the ISO’s release, calling him “extremely talented” and saying he “will ably guide the company as we move forward during this transition period.” She did not respond to a request for comment.
Fernandez was named the ISO’s general counsel and chief compliance officer in 2000 after stints at Long Island Lighting Co. and independent power producer Sithe Energies. He has been involved in “all aspects of corporate governance, including market participant committee decision-making, appeals to the Board of Directors, as well as enterprise risk management,” the release said.
He earned his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, a Master of Laws in taxation from New York University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University.
Jones, a registered engineer with a master’s degree in finance, joined NYISO in October 2015 from ERCOT, where he had been senior vice president and chief operating officer. Though born in Florida, Jones has spent most of his time in Texas, where he and his wife raised their six children. (See New NYISO Head Brings Broad Experience.)
Tom Kleckner and Michael Brooks contributed to this article.