LCRA General Manager Tom Mason announced today that he is resigning, effective July 1.
Mason, the ninth general manager in LCRA's 76-year history, has held the position since November 2007.
"This is an organization that builds and maintains large infrastructure assets like dams, power plants and transmission lines, but I've always believed that its greatest asset is its people," Mason said. "I am honored to have worked with so many dedicated public servants. I will miss them all."
Mason told his bosses, the 15-member LCRA Board of Directors, of his decision at a meeting today. He informed the organization's approximately 2,200 employees via email a short time later.
LCRA Board Chair Tim Timmerman praised Mason for the job he has done and wished him well.
"Tom Mason has managed LCRA in a time of great change," Timmerman said. "He has helped the organization refocus on its core business and has made it more transparent. I join the entire LCRA Board in expressing our gratitude for his leadership."
Timmerman said that the soonest a decision could be made on Mason's replacement would be at the June 15 LCRA Board meeting.
Mason, an environmental attorney, began working at LCRA in 1987 and was promoted to general counsel in 1999. Eight years later, he succeeded outgoing general manager Joe Beal.
Mason immediately pushed for greater organizational transparency, simplifying LCRA's business plan and annual report and posting an electronic check register online. The efforts were recognized by State Comptroller Susan Combs, who presented LCRA with a gold certification as part of LCRA's membership in the Texas Comptroller's Leadership Circle. LCRA is the first river authority to achieve this level of recognition.
Mason also worked to strengthen relationships with LCRA's customers.
About 70 percent of LCRA' s revenue comes from the sale of electricity to 43 cities and electric cooperatives. Their contracts were set to expire in 2016. LCRA has been negotiating with those customers to renew their contracts through 2041. With Mason's leadership, the largest of those customers – the Pedernales Electric Cooperative – renewed its contract with LCRA in November 2008, ending five years of negotiations. To date, 33 of the 43 customers have renewed.
Along with shoring up wholesale electric contracts, Mason drove the organization to be more competitive by looking for efficiencies and cutting costs. The business plan for Fiscal Year 2012 calls for a three-year freeze on the operating and maintenance portion of electric rates.
Also during Mason's tenure:
- The organization collaborated with stakeholders throughout the basin to develop a Water Supply Resource Plan that was approved by the Board in October. It serves as a road map for meeting the lower Colorado River basin's water needs to the year 2100.
- LCRA began a process to update its Water Management Plan, which establishes how much water is available during drought as lake levels fall.
- LCRA worked with property owners, elected officials and regulatory agencies to route and build transmission lines that will bring electricity from wind farms in West Texas to the rest of the state.
"This is an organization that has always tackled tough projects – from protecting the region during floods to providing clean drinking water during droughts," Mason said. "Every employee should be very proud of the work that LCRA has done to improve the quality of life of the people of Texas."
Mason said that there is only one certainty in his immediate future. "I plan to do nothing but rest for the next three or four months," he said.
"When I came to LCRA in 1987, I thought I would stay no more than a year or two," Mason said. "I never dreamed my career here would span almost 24 years. Public service is a noble career and I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the public as a member of such a dedicated team."