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John G. Edwards

Ex-Harrah's chief tapped for Sierra Pacific position

7 May 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Sierra Pacific Resources' board on Tuesday elected Phil Satre, former chief executive officer and chairman of Harrah's Entertainment, as its nonexecutive chairman.

He will succeed Walt Higgins, who stepped down as CEO on Aug. 1 and who will leave as chairman on the same date this year.

Satre, 59, of Reno has served on the board since 2005 and was elected to a new three-year term at the annual meeting April 28. The board selects a chairman yearly.

Satre said the board is keen on developing renewable energy, including wind, solar and geothermal power. He acknowledged the work by Higgins and CEO Michael Yackira to return the company's utility subsidiaries, Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co., to investment-grade bond ratings and to restore the company's common stock dividend.

Satre acknowledged that his ties with the casino industry are important for the utility, but he said several other directors also have experience with the gaming industry.

"All of our board members bring special expertise and experience from their industries," company CEO Michael Yackira said.

The board has decided to continue having a separate chairman and CEO for the foreseeable future, Satre said. The board last year elected Yackira to succeed Walt Higgins as CEO but asked Higgins to stay on as chairman.

"It was our express intent to continue to have a nonexecutive chairman," Satre said. "That's probably a growing movement of corporations where it's considered to be good governance."

Yackira is the only Sierra Pacific executive who serves on the board.

Satre said his role will continue much as it has since his designation as lead independent director last August. He will serve as a liaison between the board and executives.

"I don't manage any parts of the business. I'm not an executive of the company, and I'm not a spokesman (for the company)," Satre said.

Higgins had planned to stay as chairman only long enough to assist with the transition, Yackira said.

Satre served as CEO of Harrah's for 10 years. He now serves as director of Nordstrom, Rite Aid Corp., the National Center for Responsible Gaming and the Nevada Cancer Institute. He is vice chairman of the National World War II Museum and a trustee of Stanford University.

Higgins, a former Navy captain and submarine officer, first served as CEO and chairman of Sierra Pacific Resources from 1993 to 1998. He left the company but returned in 2000 after Nevada Power merged with the Northern Nevada company.

Ex-Harrah's chief tapped for Sierra Pacific position is republished from
John G. Edwards
John G. Edwards