Author:                  Published: Nov. 19, 2019          Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • PJM Interconnection’s Board of Managers has appointed Manu Asthana as its new president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the grid operatorannounced Monday.
  • Most recently, Asthana served as president of Direct Energy Home, combining Direct Energy’s retail electricity and home-services businesses in North America. The electric and natural gas provider serves 3.4 million customers.
  • The grid operator has a lot on its plate in the near term, from applying federal regulatory orders to allow energy storage to compete in its market to progressing with its delayed capacity auction.

Dive Insight:

Asthana will be the first PJM CEO to bring a competitive retail electricity focus to the job.

“The electric industry is rapidly changing, and PJM needs to continue to evolve,” Ake Almgren, chairman of PJM’s Board of Managers, said in a statement. Asthana will “lead PJM into the future.”

Phil Harris and the most recent CEO, Andy Ott, were both appointed from within PJM and Terry Boston led the transmission and power operations sector of Tennessee Valley Authority before serving as PJM CEO.

The decision comes after a series of changes in PJM’s leadership. This summer, PJM announced five executive appointments focused on system reliability, competitive wholesale electricity markets and infrastructure planning.

Ott stepped down this summer. Sue Riley, the interim president and CEO since Ott’s departure, will return to her position on PJM’s Board of Managers after Asthana takes over.

“Manu comes to PJM with a wealth of experience from the electricity value chain, and we are confident that he will bring new and important perspectives to the organization,” Almgren said.

Asthana declined interview requests before starting his job, but according to his LinkedIn profile, he served as president of Direct Energy Home in North America for more than three years, until December 2018. He was at Direct Energy for a total of eight years, and at TXU Energy, another retail electricity provider in Texas, for 12 years, where his roles included trading and managing assets as well as chief risk officer.