Seattle City Light CEO pay is not out of the ordinary
It is often pointed out that Seattle City Light’s CEO is the highest paid employee in the city, far more than even the mayor.
Actually, according to The News Tribune, with a $322,503 annual salary in 2016 ($340,000 reported elsewhere), Seattle City Light CEO Larry Weis was the second-highest paid employee at the city. Fire Battalion Chief Richard Schultz pulled in $360,303.
Pay is a consideration as Mayor Jenny Durkan replaces the utility’s top executive. While a $340,000 annual salary, with an 8 percent bonus, may seem high to many, the price tag for the soon-to-exit CEO is on par with his public utility colleagues. And it’s far below his counterparts in the private sector.
For example, here are a few public utilities:
- Chelan County PUD General Manager Steve Wright: $345,000 annually, with 1-5 percent payment each year he remains with the utility.
- City of Richland Energy Services Director Bob Hammond: Between $9,287.20-13,932.53 monthly salary (up to $167,190 annually).
- Clark Public Utilities CEO Wayne Nelson: $270,000 annually, with a $400 monthly car allowance
- Snohomish County Public Utility CEO (12th largest public utility in America): $329,600
- Tacoma Public Utilities CEO Bill Gaines (retiring in December): $387,650 annually (highest paid public employee in Pierce County).
If you’re in the market for a utility CEO job, however, private companies are the way to go. The jobs may pay around the same six-figure salary as a public utility, but private CEOs also earn considerable bonuses and other equity to push their pay into the millions.
Private energy companies:
- Avista Corporation CEO Scott Morris (Spokane): $3,773,712 total; $1,883,564 in cash (Morris took home $5.5 million in 2014).
- Eversource Energy CEO James Judge (provides electricity to Massachusetts, Connecticut): $4,566,520 total; $3,159,690 cash.
- Nextera Energy, Inc. CEO James Robo (various areas in United States): $16,086,450 total; $5,032,300 in cash.
- PacifiCorp CEO Sefan Bird (Oregon, Washington, California): $1.1 million total; $338,000 base pay, with $738,784 in bonuses.
- Portland General Electric CEO James Piro (Portland, Ore): $3.2 million; $836,431 base pay with $680,574 in bonuses; $41,517,452 in equity.
- Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris (Washington state): $3.8 million; $900,000 base pay with $2,885,301 in bonus incentives.
Seattle city employee pay
Putting the mayor of Seattle aside — with their $175,000 annual salary — Seattle City Light employees accounted for six of the top 10 most highly paid employees at the city in 2016, according to The News Tribune.
- Richard Schultz, Fire Battalion Chief: $360,303
- Larry Weis, Seattle City Light: $322,503
- Ricardo Castro, Fire Captain: $299,019 (base pay is $291,962)
- Michael Yi, City Light: $289,370 (base pay is $113,814)
- Cao Pham, City Light: $279,021 (base pay is $107,522)
- Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle Police Chief (resigning at the end of the year): $273,275
- James Hannigan, City Light: $266,353 (base pay is $129,006)
- James Baggs, City Light: $264,586
- Earl Boyd, City Light: $258,174 (base pay is $103,863)
- James Woodbury, Fire Chief: $254,605 (base pay is $165,908)
Overtime pay is a considerable portion of city employees’ salaries, which is why many of the highest paid Seattle workers took home far beyond their base pay in 2016.
A recent analysis by the Puget Sound Business Journal found that 634 city employees earn more than one-third of their paychecks from overtime. There are 10 workers who get more than half of their pay in overtime, too. Of the 22 city employees who earn more than $100,000 in overtime, 14 work at City Light.