Since his appointment as interim CEO of Grand River Dam Authority in July, Mike Kiefner’s focus has been to continue to move the utility company into the 21st Century.
“I want to see us moving in the same direction we were under the leadership of Kevin Easley,” Kiefner said. “It was not so long ago that FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) considered us one of the worst managed utility providers in the country. With Kevin in charge, we worked very hard to improve that relationship by following the rules and developing a culture of compliance, and today GRDA is considered one of the better-managed projects. ”
The Chief Operating Officer of GRDA since 2004, Kiefner has been a part of the utility industry for many years.
After earning a Bachelors degree from the University of Central Oklahoma, he spent several years as a teacher and coach in the Oklahoma City area.
“I taught Sociology, economics and history, and coached wrestling and tennis for 12 years. I really enjoyed that phase of my life but it was time to move on. I had always had a desire to go to law school so I attended OCU at night and during my summer vacations,” he said.”
After earning his Juris-Doctrate, Kiefner went into private practice specializing in energy law. He then went on to serve as general counsel for a savings and loan company.
In 1994, he took a position as a staff attorney for the Oklahoma Senate. In 2004 he accepted the post of COO with GRDA.
“I had the opportunity to work in the energy field when I was with the senate as attorney for the science and technology, energy, business and labor committees, so I was familiar with those issues when I came to GRDA,” he said.
Kiefner continues to hold the position of COO while acting as general manager, a job appointed to him by the GRDA Board of Directors last month.
“There haven’t been a lot of surprises and I haven’t had to make many changes. The job of CEO is more challenging, and I am much busier,” Kiefner said.
The appointment came immediately following the Blue Green Algae outbreak in the waters of Grand Lake.
“That was a difficult situation and a first for GRDA but you have to be prepared for the unexpected. It helps to have the support of a sophisticated board and a willing and responsive staff,” he said.
Always following the learning curve, he recently earned NERC systems operator certification.
“I felt like I needed to know more, and I believe that education never ends. You should always strive to learn,” he said.
As for the future of GRDA, Kiefner says he wants to continue to move in a positive motion as long as he is the interim leader.
“I hope to continue moving GRDA into the 21st Century. We will continue to be a good steward of the lake. We are constantly trying to improve in that area and we always take into consideration all of the different stakeholders around Grand Lake,” he said. “We will continue to provide our services in the highest quality possible.”
Kiefer resides on Monkey Island with his wife, Sandy.