By Rich Heidorn Jr.
NERC is looking for a new CFO and general counsel, allowing CEO Jim Robb to reshape the organization’s senior management as he enters his second year on the job.
The Electric Reliability Organization announced on Tuesday that Scott Jones — its CFO, chief administrative officer and treasurer — had resigned and that General Counsel Charles “Charlie” Berardesco would be retiring in August.
There was no indication that Jones was on his way out earlier this month, when he gave several presentations at the quarterly meetings of the Board of Trustees and Member Representatives Committee in St. Louis. Berardesco also made no public mention of his retirement plans at the meetings. (See NERC MRC, Trustees Meeting Briefs: May 8-9, 2019.)
“I heard Scott was being forced out and they’re giving Charlie a retirement party,” one former senior NERC official who is still in contact with former colleagues said in an interview. “When you see two senior guys leaving at the same time, it’s clear somebody’s cleaning house.”
Berardesco, who joined NERC in 2012 from Constellation Energy, will retire on Aug. 31, NERC said. He served as acting CEO for about five months after the November 2017 resignation of former CEO Gerry Cauley following his arrest on domestic abuse charges in an incident involving his then-wife.
Robb joined NERC from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council in April 2018.
The former official said that Robb was selected by the board as “an independent guy who could come in and do what was necessary to take NERC into the future” after Cauley’s departure. “I’m sure he’s taken this last year to learn and evaluate any dysfunctions within the company.”
But Jean Cauley, Gerry Cauley’s ex-wife, said she suspects the moves may have been orchestrated by the board after Ken McIntyre, NERC’s vice president of standards and compliance, left the organization in March after less than three years.
Jean Cauley and the former NERC official said McIntyre was well regarded and was being groomed by Gerry Cauley as his successor.
“The board would have done a follow-up. They wanted to know why [McIntyre left]. If he told them, they would have started things rolling,” Jean Cauley said. McIntyre did not respond to a request for comment.
Jean Cauley said Berardesco and Jones had attempted to prevent her and staff from talking to board members about management problems at NERC after Gerry Cauley’s arrest for assaulting her.
She told police that her husband pushed her into a wall and a bathtub after she discovered him having cybersex with a “young female employee of his.” She suffered a broken spine in the assault and now needs a walker. Gerry Cauley resigned about a week after the incident. (See Cauley Resigns; NERC Launches Search for Replacement.)
“Scott was telling everybody I was unbalanced and a nut case and not to be believed,” Jean Cauley said in an interview.
“The board finally wised up and started seeing some of the deceit that’s been going on at NERC for years,” Jean Cauley said.
Cauley and several former NERC employees have described Berardesco as an abusive manager.
“Charlie is flat-out mean. He yells. Throws things,” she said.
“He was pretty rough on people,” the former executive said. “One of Charlie’s favorite things to say was, ‘I have more money than God.’ … If he liked you, you were fine. lf he didn’t like you, it was hell on wheels.”
NERC’s announcements gave no indication of any dissatisfaction with either Jones or Berardesco, neither of whom responded to RTO Insider’s requests for comment.
“Charlie has done an outstanding job during his tenure at NERC,” Board Chair Roy Thilly said in a statement. “He was instrumental in leading NERC as interim CEO during our time of transition.”
Jones, who joined NERC in December 2014 as senior director of finance, was promoted to vice president of finance in May 2016 and CFO in August 2017.
“During his tenure, Scott elevated the caliber of our financial processes and procedures and brought a high level of expertise to our accounting and budgeting processes that will benefit NERC and our many stakeholders well into the future,” Robb said in a statement.
Thilly and Robb declined requests for comment.
NERC said Controller Andy Sharp will serve as interim CFO, responsible for oversight of business plans and budgets and day-to-day financial administration, while the organization searches for Jones’ successor.
With the latest moves, NERC will have replaced three of its top officials since Cauley’s departure. Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer Marcus Sachs, then one of seven direct reports to CEO, was forced out in November 2017 and replaced by Bill Lawrence. (See NERC Parts Ways with Chief Security Officer.)
NERC’s proposed 2020 business plan also reduces Robb’s direct reports to five from eight. Two direct reports were reduced to one with Lawrence’s appointment. Michael Walker, a direct report as SVP/chief enterprise risk and strategic development officer, now is chief of staff for the E-ISAC. Also eliminated as a direct report was Tina Buzzard, the associate director to the office of the CEO, Cauley’s former administrative aide.
At its meeting in May, the board announced the appointment of two new vice presidents: Howard Gugel, director of engineering and standards, and Mechelle Thomas, chief compliance officer.