Q: What most notably stands out about your leadership style or what is an example of leadership success you can share with our readers?
As president of the nation’s third-largest not-for-profit community-based utility, my leadership approach has evolved over time.
I have transitioned from being vision-focused to directing my attention to what is possible.
In managing the board of Salt River Project (SRP), I have gained a deeper appreciation for the value of relationships. By building a strong rapport with SRP’s CEO and executive team we can work together for the betterment of our customers.
What impact has COVID-19 or the disruptions of the past 18 months had on you as a leader?
Our generation had never before seen the disruption of a global pandemic. For me, COVID-19 was a serious deterrent to my style of connecting with people in person.
I do not believe we will ever fully return to our pre-pandemic lifestyles, professionally speaking. The flexibility that the hybrid workplace offers to be more inclusive in our work, and to connect and create in new ways has brought positive changes.
What do you feel we can be doing as a business community to empower economic growth here?
SRP operates on three fundamental pillars: reliability, affordability and sustainability.
Our paramount dedication to reliability serves to drive our approach to economic development.
In addition, SRP ‘s nonprofit status allows us to be true to our mission.
As a business community, the more we can do to power our state’s smart growth with a focus on sustainability, the more all of us will benefit.
SRP understands the importance of sustainable initiatives that help to provide water and power to our customers while working to reduce carbon emissions, strengthen the grid to allow more customer choice and improve water resiliency.
More companies and customers expect that sustainability is part of all planning. A comprehensive and inclusive way to progress forward is by developing a stakeholder review process of a company’s sustainability goals. An example of this is what SRP did when we developed SRP’s initial 2035 Sustainability Goals: We hosted opportunities to gain public feedback from customers to inform the goals and ensure we considered all perspectives. The effort generated more than 4,000 comments, many of which were integrated into our updated initiatives.
What is new and notable for your company’s near future that will impact our economy?
Not only has SRP undertaken industry-leading 2035 Sustainability Goals, but we continue to balance affordability for our customers throughout the costly transition.
In addition, SRP has among the largest utility-scale battery investments in the Western U.S., with more than 800 megawatts in battery storage that will be operating on our power system by 2024 — and more projects that will soon be announced. It is enough to power more than 180,000 average-size residential homes during a four-hour period.
These early battery deployments help SRP and the industry gain experience with this technology, which will play a major role in reducing carbon emissions.
In addition, SRP is well on its way to reaching its goal to add 2,025 megawatts of new utility-scale solar energy by 2025, as part of SRP’s commitment to reducing carbon intensity (from 2005 levels) by more than 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2050.
With the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, SRP will be able to invest more in developing its own battery storage and solar energy systems, giving us direct dispatchability of these systems and first-hand, real-time access to performance analytics.
We also continue to work — just as we have for more than 100 years — to ensure a resilient water supply for our shareholders and the metro Phoenix area by partnering with the public and private sectors on innovative solutions. This critical issue is at the heart of what SRP does, and we look forward to working alongside community partners to ensure Arizona’s future.
Name of Leader: David Rousseau
Position of Leader: President
Organization Name: Salt River Project
No. of Years with Organization: SRP President since 2010; SRP Vice President 2006–2010; served on SRP’s board and council 1990–2006
Main Local Office Address: 1500 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85288
Phone: (602) 236-8888
Number of offices in Greater Phoenix: 11
Year Established Locally: 1903
City Nationally Headquartered: Tempe, AZ