Utility manager praised for community involvement

Kelly Sloan, The Business Times

As Western Slope area manager for Xcel Energy for 25 years, Fred Eggleston not only represented the utility in the community, but also was involved in the community. It was a role Eggleston said he cherished.

Now that’s retired, others said Eggleston leaves a legacy of service.

Eggleston announced his retirement earlier this year. An event marking the occasion was held at the Avalon Theater in downtown Grand Junction.

“I love this job. I would love to stay with this job. But I have reached a point where I have accomplished what I want to and now it’s time to play,” Eggleston said.

Eggleston joined what was at the time Public Service of Colorado in 1990 and served as Western Slope Area manager for 25 years. During that time he was the public face of the utility and also served as a community and local government liaison.

Kelly Flenniken, former executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, succeeds Eggleston.

“Fred has been a really good friend of mine since I moved here, one of the first people I met here through my capacity at GJEP,”  Flenniken said of Eggleston, who served on the GJEP board of directors as treasurer. “As I applied for, and was accepted for the role at Xcel, he was a mentor to me, teaching me about the utility industry and things about this community I did not know.”

Flenniken said Eggleston did more than just manage the company’s assets and operations in the region. “He has been integral to the company the last 25 years. He has managed through a lot of tricky and tumultuous situations and he has taught this community about who we are as a company and the things we care about and hold dear to ourselves and our corporate vision. He helped advance that, talking to the community not only about what we do, but who we are.”

Wade Haerle, chief executive officer of EIS solutions, worked with Eggleston at Xcel and spoke of his community involvement as well as his leadership during a natural gas explosion in Grand Junction in 2013. “Fred is a solid community leader. Everyone knows that. But he is also the calm head in a storm, as demonstrated by his leadership in the command center for the Seventh Street natural gas explosion.”

Eggleston described Xcel Energy as a “quality company.”

“I was able to represent a company I feel very strong about, being a very good company that stands by its programs and stands by its people.”

Eggleston was heavily involved in the community professionally and personally. “Community means everything. My job has had me involved directly with the community. I have represented Xcel to the community, and I represent the community to Xcel. And during that two-way street, I have been involved in a lot of different organizations and committees.” Eggleston said one activity he was most proud of was helping establish Grand Valley Transit. “To me, that’s the biggest payoff I’ve seen.”

Eggleston also recalled the Seventh Street explosion, and how the community came together in response. “Seventh taught me a lot about how good this community is. When we went in o that agreement we had with the city, on day one we all decided we were going to ignore who is liable and we are going to take care of the people. The commitment the community made to its people, and helping them get back in their homes, that is a testimony to the strength of this community.”

Eggleston said he was later called to testify about that experience in Washington, D.C., and added, “280 CEOs of gas companies were utterly astounded that Xcel and Grand Junction could go hand in hand and work an emergency and treat the people they way needed to be treated.”

As for what’s next, Eggleston said, “For six months I’m saying  absolutely ‘no’ to everybody and fishing and golfing. After six months, we’ll see.”

One Response to "Utility manager praised for community involvement"

  1. Rob Osborn   July 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Congratulations Fred! We’ll Miss YOU!