The Board of Directors of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) today voted unanimously to enter into a three-year employment contract with General Manager Becky Motal.
“This contract should serve as a strong endorsement of the visionary leadership that Becky Motal has brought to this important job,” said LCRA Board Chair Tim Timmerman. “She and her team quickly improved an organization that many people – inside and outside of LCRA -- believed was too big and too bureaucratic to change quickly, if at all. And she has done it in the face of a historic drought, a devastating wildfire and intense pressure to reduce costs. The change that has occurred within LCRA in Becky Motal’s first year is truly remarkable. It’s important we keep that momentum going.”
The contract, which Motal signed Wednesday, includes the option for two one-year extensions. Motal’s compensation will be set by the Board during her annual performance review in August. She currently earns $325,000 a year.
Motal, 62, became LCRA’s tenth general manager – and the first female to serve in that role in the organization’s 77-year history – on July 2, 2011. The move came about two weeks after the deadline for LCRA’s 43 wholesale electric customers to sign 25-year contract extensions. Ten customers announced that they were leaving LCRA because electric rates were not competitive, and other customers announced that they were reducing the amount of electricity they were buying from LCRA. Approximately 69 percent of LCRA’s revenues come from the sale of electricity.
As general manager, Motal immediately began a pivotal companywide reorganization designed to streamline LCRA and reduce overhead to make LCRA more competitive in the power markets. The sweeping reorganization, which she announced Aug. 25, dissolved five separate business units within the organization and restructured LCRA to focus on the product lines of water, generation of electricity and transmission of electricity. Motal and her executive team took a hard look at staffing levels and decided to offer a voluntary severance package to eligible employees. There are 314 fewer positions included in the FY 2013 Business Plan than in the FY 2012 Business Plan, representing 133 positions eliminated through the voluntary severance program, about 50 layoffs and more than 100 vacant open positions that were not filled.
Just weeks after announcing the re-organization, Motal successfully led a new executive team in LCRA’s response to wildfires that devastated Central Texas and threatened several of LCRA’s electric generation and transmission assets. Also during her first year as general manager, Motal and her staff held community conversations related to the current record-breaking drought and questions about future water supply issues in Central Texas, completed and submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality a new proposed Water Management Plan – the rule book for managing water supply in lakes Travis and Buchanan, took significant steps toward selling LCRA’s water and wastewater systems, implemented emergency drought relief measures that resulted in a historic decision to not provide Highland Lakes water to most downstream farmers, and launched a pilot project to determine if gravel pits can serve as downstream water supply reservoirs as part of an effort to increase water supplies.
Motal reinforced LCRA’s commitment to be efficient, cost-conscious and a worthy steward of energy and water resources in the organization’s business plan for its new fiscal year that begins July 1. The FY 2013 Business Plan outlines two crucial goals for LCRA – freezing nonfuel rates for LCRA’s wholesale power customers for the next four years and finding 100,000 acre-feet of new water supplies in the next five years. The plan cuts about $40 million in expenses and frees up other money to pay for development of new water supplies. It also sets aside money to pay for important energy projects including the replacement of the Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Horseshoe Bay and the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones transmission projects.
“The long-term water and electric supply projects LCRA is leading are crucial for the future of the Central Texas region and require unswerving focus and continuity of leadership,” Timmerman said. “Becky has proven that she is the right person to lead LCRA during this challenging and critical time. With so much riding on LCRA’s success as a public provider of water and power, the Board is pleased that Becky has agreed to continue leading the organization.”
Motal has worked at LCRA for more than 25 years, including stints as manager of Economic and Financial Planning and Executive Manager of External Affairs.
Motal is not the first general manager to have an employment contract. The LCRA Board of Directors approved some form of employment agreements with previous general managers.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to continue leading a great organization that provides valuable services for so many people,” Motal said. “LCRA accomplished many important things in the past year, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the employees, the leadership team and LCRA’s Board of Directors. There is much more work to be done and I look forward to the challenges in the future.”