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Q&A with Tom Husted, CEO of Valley Electric Association

Tom Husted has electricity in his blood.

His father heads a utility, as does his brother, so it made sense that Husted, too, would go into the business.

Since 2006, Husted has been CEO of Valley Electric Association, a member-owned electric utility based in Pahrump.

In 1963, farmers in Pahrump and Amargosa valleys who were not being served by existing utilities decided to start their own utility, called Amargosa Valley Cooperative. Two years later, that organization, plus the Amargosa Power Co., Beatty Utility Co. and White Mountain Electric Cooperative consolidated to reduce costs. They then became known as Valley Electric Association.

The association provides power to 6,800 square miles in Nevada and California, mainly along the border, bringing power to 45,000 people. It also holds federal government contracts at the Nevada National Security Site and Creech Air Force Base.

The association does not create power, but invests in and builds out transmission lines.

Husted serves on several state task forces that deal with renewable energy and electricity transmission issues.

What’s your proudest personal accomplishment?

This goes back to how I started. I’ve been in this business for 30 years. For 20 years of that as a CEO. I was hired for my first CEO job in Kansas to fix an ailing utility that was about to be taken over by the banker. I was given one year to turn that around before the banker was going to come in and take over the utility. That was my first CEO job at 31 years old. I was able to do that, and I’ve been recruited throughout my career to come in and help utilities that were in trouble, to take over. So that’s been a tremendous accomplishment. Valley Electric did not fit that category, but it was a utility that was going through unprecedented growth in a community that was going through unprecedented growth.

What do you look for when hiring?

We look outside the region due to the very specialized positions we have within this industry. Valley Electric is a very unique business. We recruit a very special person. We look for people who have a mentality to look outside of the box. We have to. We have to be very creative. We’re a small company, but that does not eliminate us from all the things that an electric utility or any utility has to take on. We compete with Fortune 500 companies. When we recruit, we have to recruit people that have to be able to go from ground level to 30,000 feet with the operation of this company and their responsibilities. We have quite a stable of very accomplished people. My goal is to recruit the best people in the country to work for us.

What are your hobbies?

They vary and there are many. I’ve got a Harley-Davidson addiction. I’ve got several motorcycles. I’ve got an old 1949 Jeepster that one of my daughters and I show. A lot of outdoors stuff, when I have time. I have to admit that my hobbies haven’t been attended to to the best that I would like.