The Orange County Power Authority, on Wednesday, April 19, announced the dismissal of its current CEO Brian Probolsky effective May 30 after OCPA directors voted 3-2 in favor of his removal.

Vice Chair Director Dr. Kathleen Treseder, Director Tammy Kim and Director Jose Casteneda voted to remove the CEO, while Director Don Wagner voted against removal. Director Fred Jung abstained. 

The directors voted 3-2 to appoint an acting Chief Executive Officer by June 1. Absent from the meeting was Probolsky, who has been with the power agency since January 2021.

The board has selected an internal candidate for the role, but has not made a public announcement. In a phone call with Irvine Weekly, Kim said the announcement would be made once the candidate accepts the role, and that she felt the removal of Probolsky would help quell public concerns.  

“I don’t think an agency can run off the reputation of a single person, but since that’s been the case we obviously have to make the change. We’ll see where people are at – is this truly to promote the movement of community choice energy, or is this reality just a political stunt to thwart the entire movement – we’ll find out,” she said. “People have used him as the sole excuse – the sole reason of its success, so we’ll find out what the truth is soon enough.” 

As one of the newest appointed OCPA directors, Kim said there were already a lot of changes taking place inside the agency and that the vote to dismiss Probolsky was not a reflection of the agency.

“We were on our way in making improvements, but again there was still a call for his departure,”  she said. “It was a step in moving on, it was not a reflection of where the agency is at – but for me it’s for us to move on, to be able to recruit other cities, and have some quiet and calm. It’s been so turbulent.” 

The removal of Problosky from the position of CEO does not come as a surprise to OCPA customers, as a series of state and local audits found that Probolsky lacked crucial energy sector experience prior to being appointed for the role within OCPA.

Last year, an Orange County Grand Jury found major issues with OCPA’s public communication, and emphasized the importance of the CEO’s responsibility when it comes to “effective oversight.” 

“OCPA cannot claim it has effective oversight of its contractors with a CEO who had no prior relevant energy industry experience, no COO, no Director of Power Purchases, and no other senior level employee with the appropriate expertise for hands-on oversight,” the OCGJ report read. 

After the announcement, Jung thanked Problosky. 

“I would like to publicly thank our CEO for getting this agency to where it is, much of that credit belongs to him,” he said.   

In Irvine, local leaders have shared their thoughts on the news regarding Probolsky’s dismissal. In a statement, Senator Dave Min said he hopes this move can begin restoring public trust between the public and OCPA. 

“With new leadership, the OC Power Authority can now finally focus on putting ratepayers first,” he said. “While we are still a long way from fully restoring public trust, this was the right choice by the Board of Directors and a step toward greater accountability. While I am hopeful OCPA can now operate with integrity, I will continue to monitor the fiscal impacts this transition poses.”

This is a developing story. 

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