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Twitty aims to finish strong in final months

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John Twitty is marking his calendar as his retirement looms, but he hopes to end his career the same way he led it, paving the way for his successor.

Twitty, CU general manager, sat down Feb. 8 at Houlihan's South with Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson as part of the monthly 12 People You Need to Know series. There were more than 60 in attendance.

"There's other fish to fry out there," 57-year-old Twitty said of his retirement from CU, effective June 10. "I want to go see those things while I'm still young enough to enjoy them."

For the next four months, Twitty will continue to run the business as usual, though he admits his June deadline has created some changes.

"It's increasingly difficult to get respect," he said jokingly.

In reality, Twitty wants to finish with dignity and hopes to be remembered for what he considers his two greatest managerial assets - soft skills and solid results.

"I want to run all the way through the finish line," he said. "I hope I can continue to do that through June 10."

Twitty is lending aid when needed in the search for his successor, which is under way by a Board of Public Utilities' search committee.

"I suspect there will be a chance for me to provide oversight," Twitty said of his successor, adding that he will likely help the new hire network in the city and with other state energy companies. "I can only hope that the people in the great community of Springfield and Greene County will be as supportive of the new general manager as they have with me.

"I have every confidence that our board will select a great successor."

Twitty, who was appointed general manager in 2002, changed the company's nonunion salary and benefits plan into a performance-based system in 2003-04, saw the company through ice storm response and recovery in 2007, and helped gain approval for construction of the the recently completed Southwest Power Station Unit 2, a $697 million, four-year project.

His decision to vacate his post following construction of the 94,000-square-foot, 300-megawatt facility was no coincidence, Twitty said. The project, which he estimates brought in 90 percent of its labor force from within 100 miles, was a chance to end his CU career at the top of his game.

"There's always new projects down the road, but you could say that literally forever," he said. "Southwest 2 was a good ending place."

His only Southwest 2 regret was its two-year delay, after failing to meet approval of voters in 2004. The project was approved in 2006, but it ended up costing an additional $100 million because of changes that occurred over the time period, he said.

Olson opened the breakfast event to questions following the interview.

Instead of offering a question, Wayne Morelock, co-owner of Morelock-Ross Builders, impressed upon other attendees the importance of City Utilities when it comes to construction in the community, as builders must work closely with CU staff.

"You will be sorely missed," Morelock said of Twitty.

After retiring in June, Twitty hasn't ruled out the possibility of working again in the utilities industry. He said, however, he wouldn't be pursuing a managerial position.

"Everybody wants to be a consultant," Twitty said, speculating on his future.

"I'm not exactly sure what a consultant is, but I'm sure I'll be one at some point," he said with a laugh.

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