Joel Ivy

Joel Ivy, who has been Lakeland Electric’s top administrator for nine years, is leaving Lakeland in April for a job in his home state of Texas, the city of Lakeland announced today.

Ivy, a 62-year-old native of Pecos, Texas, has been named director of Lubbock Power and Light, a municipal utility serving more than 100,000 customers in northwest Texas. He assumes his position as director of utilities May 2.

The Lubbock utility is considering entering the retail electricity market, and Ivy has had experience in both municipal and retail electricity markets, a city of Lakeland news release notes.

Ivy was named general manager of Lakeland Electric in July 2012 after having served in leadership roles with utilities in California and New Mexico. He started his energy career in 1983 as a lineman in Texas, according to the Lakeland Electric website. His current salary is $245,015 a year.

“The decision to leave Lakeland Electric is very hard and is significantly based on being closer to my family, kids and grandchildren who all live in Texas,” Ivy said in a prepared statement. “I vowed to leave the utility better than I found it, and I know this is the case. I will truly miss my co-workers, friends and the Lakeland community.” 

Ivy is the second top city of Lakeland administrator whose departure was reported this month. Deputy City Manager Nicole Travis, who rose through the ranks at City Hall over 11 1/2 years, is returning to Tampa, where she starts a job on Jan. 24 as an administrator on Mayor Jane Castor’s senior leadership team leading special projects and economic development initiatives. 

Ivy’s boss, City Manager Shawn Sherrouse, said, “Joel Ivy has taken Lakeland Electric to the next level and has positioned our municipal electric utility for a stronger and more sustainable future. Because of his leadership, Joel is leaving Lakeland Electric more cost-effective, efficient, reliable, and resilient.  While I am saddened to accept his resignation, I do understand his desire to move closer to his Texas family.” 

Lakeland Electric this year decommissioned McIntosh Unit 3, the city’s last coal-burning power plant and has been exploring alternative energy sources. The McIntosh closure resulted in the layoffs of around 26 utility employees, drawing criticism from their union over the city’s process for notifying workers of the layoffs.

The utility also greatly built several solar farms, but has been criticized by homeowners who adopted rooftop solar for rate structures that they say penalize them.

Customer service improvements include a revamped website with personalized energy tools and real-time outage reporting.

Ivy’s community roles in Lakeland have included president of the Lakeland Rotary Club and board member of Volunteers In Service to The Elderly.

Lubbock’s City Commission today voted to hire Ivy after a three-month national search to find a replacement for David McCalla, who announced in September that he would retire after coming to Lubbock as utility director in 2014.

The Lubbock utility is smaller than Lakeland’s, with more than 300 employees and 100,000 customers, according to its website. Lakeland Electric has around 400 employees and serves more than 130,000 customers.

Editor’s note: Lakeland Electric has been a sponsor of LkldNow for several years but has no input into news coverage.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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  1. Mr. Ivy has been a shining example of someone who fully understands customer service and at the same time is a good business manager. While I never agree with all of his decisions, he has always taken time to respond to my questions which is a rare attribute not found in many others at the City of Lakeland. Most either ignore citizen’s questions or defer them to a lower-level staff member to answer as they will. I found him to be a breath of fresh air. We were fortunate to have him in our employee. Best of sucess to him in the future. He will leave a hole that will not be easy to adequately fill.

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