Glendale Water & Power leader resigns

The general manager of Glendale Water & Power resigned Wednesday, citing personal reasons.

Glenn Steiger — who became general manager of the city-owned utility in 2008 — also stepped down from his post as president of the Southern California Public Power Authority, a joint powers organization that includes Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.

Reached by phone after the announcement, Steiger said he did not immediately have plans for the future.

“I enjoyed my time at Glendale, I really did,” he said.

A city spokesman declined to elaborate on Steiger’s reasons for resigning, citing privacy considerations.

Steiger championed new technology during his tenure and was a key figure in bringing so-called smart meters to the city. Although controversial for some customers, the meters were hailed as a way to encourage people to cut back on electricity and pinpoint unknown water leaks, saving water.

The $70-million project — $20 million of which came from federal grants — “has been considered the best implementation of such technology in the country,” according to a city statement regarding Steiger’s resignation Wednesday.

Steiger’s departure comes roughly two months after the City Council approved raising water rates over the next four years to lift the water side of the utility out of an estimated $21-million budget hole. Steiger has told the council that the utility also needs to raise electricity rates and issue tens of millions of dollars’ worth of bonds to prevent laying off 85 employees.

Despite the financial difficulties, Steiger has made the utility a leader among other public agencies, officials said.

“Recognition from across the country has been bestowed upon [Glendale Water & Power] during his tenure,” City Manager Scott Ochoa said in the statement. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Zanku Armenian, president of the Glendale Water & Power Commission, said under Steiger, the utility “has made pretty important strides.”

“The question for the future leadership will be, ‘Where do we go from here?’” Armenian added.

As the city searches for a replacement, Ochoa plans to ask the City Council to let Public Works Director Steve Zurn temporarily take the helm of the utility in addition to his regular duties.

“While Mr. Steiger’s departure will be felt throughout [Glendale Water & Power], I am confident that the existing management team is prepared to handle the day-to-day operations of the utility, as well as execute the larger strategic challenges that are on the horizon,” Ochoa said in a letter to city employees.

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