The path to hire the next Lafayette Utilities System director is unclear after two candidates withdrew leaving one internal applicant vying for the utility's top job.
LUS Engineering and Power Supply Manager Jeff Stewart is the last man standing of the five who initially applied last year to become the utility's first permanent director since 2018.
LUS Director: 3 engineers are in the running for Lafayette Utilities System director job, $250K salary
Stewart was a finalist for the position alongside James Jason Terry of the Kissimmee Utility Authority and Paul A. Jakubczak for the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, both of Florida. Two additional applicants were previously removed from consideration after one withdrew and another was disqualified by LUS's consulting engineer Burns & McDonnell.
Terry and Jakubczak were scheduled for interviews with subject matter experts for the LUS job this month, which have been canceled. LCG spokesperson Jamie Angelle could not say whether the pair gave any reasons for their withdrawal from the job search.
Stewart, who has been with LUS since July 2001, is the only local or internal applicant to seek the utility's top job. His job interview with experts was delayed, suggesting Mayor-President Josh Guillory may seek to revamp the director search.
The LUS Director position is the highest paid job within Lafayette Consolidated Government, at around $250,000 a year, though that could change with the next director.
Angelle said Friday the administration is not yet prepared to say how it will move forward with the job search.
"The mayor-president is just trying to work through what would be the best way to move forward," Angelle said.
"Would it be fair to (Stewart) if this is the circumstance in which he got it? (There are) different things like that he (Guillory) would have to look at."
CONSIDER SUBSCRIBING TODAY: Help support local journalists like Andrew Capps
Stewart previously led LUS as interim director for over a year after the July 2018 retirement of former Director Terry Huval following the revelation that LUS had improperly paid its sister utility LUS Fiber for $1.7 million for unused services and that former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux had explored a plan to sell the city-owned utility.
As interim director, Stewart led LUS through Hurricane Barry and oversaw its annual budget of about $237 million for roughly 68,000 electric customers. He also guided the utility through a second revelation of suspect payments between LUS and Fiber for a questioned power outage monitoring system.
According to people with knowledge of the situation, Stewart was not involved in establishing either set of questioned payments between the sister utilities.
Since leaving the interim director position, Stewart, who holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University, has led the development of LUS's vision for the future of its energy supply chain and helped launch the system's first online power outage map and notification system.
Energy future: LUS looks to shift power supply to as much as 60% solar by 2023
Stewart spearheaded the two-year process to develop LUS's integrated resource plan, which mapped the utility's long-term needs for power generation and weighed the likely retirement of its coal-fired power plant near Alexandria in the coming years.
Follow Andrew Capps on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Lafayette candidate remains in search for LUS director job