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Williams resigns as head of Denton Municipal Electric

Phil Williams, general manager of Denton Municipal Electric, resigned from his post effective Friday.

City Manager Todd Hileman has named Deputy City Manager Bryan Langley as an interim general manager to oversee the utility’s daily operations until a replacement can be found.

Williams did not return a call for comment.

Denton Municipal Electric is a city department that provides electricity to most of the city. Some of the electricity comes from a coal-fired power plant, but an increasing amount of it is purchased through long-term contracts with wind and solar farms.

It’s unclear why Williams, 62, resigned. However, his resignation comes one week after the City Council held a closed-door session over the how DME awards its contracts.

No one has said publicly in the past week whether any state laws or city policies were violated. Some DME employees were placed on leave as the city launched an investigation into the utility’s contracting practices.  

DME is in the middle of a $1.1 billion expansion and upgrade of the city’s electric grid, work that has come with lucrative, multimillion-dollar contracts. The expansion includes the $265 million Denton Energy Center,  the controversial new power plant that will use natural gas-fired engines to make electricity.   

Although the final contract amounts were never disclosed, the two primary contracts for the Denton Energy Center are estimated to be worth about $100 million each.

Williams is 40-year veteran of the electric utility business. He joined the city in 2006 as the finance and accounting manager. He beat out 42 applicants in a nationwide search to become DME’s general manager in 2008.

Williams held finance and operational management positions at TXU from 1977 to 2003. After he left TXU, he served as chief financial officer for Bryan Texas Utilities and Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative before coming to Denton.

Records show he was the second highest-paid employee in the city, with an annual base salary of about $229,000.

The city will conduct a national search to replace Williams, an effort that should take three to four months, Langley said.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.

FEATURED PHOTO: Phil Williams, Denton Municipal Electric general manager, addresses the City Council about the gas plant planned for Denton's west side during a meeting Sept. 13. (DRC file photo)