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Vera Water and Power GM Kevin Wells to retire; Jim Fields will take place

Dec. 1, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 1, 2022 at 8:27 p.m.

Kevin Wells is retiring as general manager of Vera Water and Power, ending a 49-year tenure with the Spokane Valley-based utility.

Vera announced earlier this week that Wells is stepping down effective Dec. 31. He will be succeeded by Jim Fields, who is Vera’s chief financial officer and assistant general manager.

Vera’s board of directors conducted a national search for Wells’ replacement.

Fields said in a statement he believes the board selected him as general manager because they valued the continuity he would bring to the role.

“If we can do this transition seamlessly for the customers, we’re going to be a success,” Fields said.

Fields has worked for Vera for more than 28 years. He became assistant general manager in 2008.

Fields said he’s committed to continuing to provide low rates and reliable service to Vera customers.

“I have seen the Valley grow a lot since I’ve been here,” Fields said. “What that has meant is a huge investment in infrastructure, and we will continue that to meet future needs of our customers.”

As assistant general manager, Fields worked alongside Wells, who involved him in the managerial duties at Vera, including union negotiations and meetings with Bonneville Power Administration from which Vera buys electricity, Fields said.

“Kevin has worked closely with me to prepare me for this position,” Fields said.

Wells was unavailable for additional comment on his decision to retire.

Wells began his career with Vera as a part-time water meter reader in 1973. He became general manager in 1992, taking over from Joe Custer, who hired Wells as a teenager.

During Wells’ tenure, Vera’s district grew from 3,000 customers to 13,000. He also managed regulatory issues, water rights and government compliance, in addition to securing the lowest-priced wholesale electricity for distribution on Vera’s system.

Wells oversaw new construction of electric and water infrastructure to meet growing demand for utility service as population increased in Spokane Valley. Under his leadership, Vera doubled the number of substations and increased its water wells by 40%, according to a company release.

Vera serves more than 13,500 customers and employs 41 people.

“It’s always been my privilege to work for (the customers),” Wells said in a prepared statement. “The reason we exist is to serve them.”

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