After an extensive, months-long search that saw the Turlock Irrigation District comb through candidates from across the country, the water and electricity supplier announced on Nov. 5 that its next General Manager will be hired from within.
Ceres born and raised, Michelle Reimers was selected by the TID Board of Directors to succeed Casey Hashimoto as General Manager come Jan. 2, 2020 — a choice both she and the Board believe will bring a fresh perspective to the organization. After working with the District for the past 14 years, Reimers will serve as the seventh General Manager in TID history and is the first woman to take on the role.
“It’s almost surreal. I’m very excited, honored, grateful — all those words,” Reimers said. “One would say I’m not the typical GM selection…Typically, you don’t see too many female leads in this industry, and most GM positions usually have an engineering background or are attorneys.”
Reimers serves as TID’s Assistant General Manager of External Affairs, a position she’s held since September 2016. The Stanislaus State graduate was originally hired as the Public Information Specialist in 2006 and quickly climbed the ranks, earning the title of Public Information Division Manager in 2007, before being promoted to Director of External Affairs in 2013.
In addition to this experience with TID, Reimers also lives and farms in the District, giving her a rare combination of both field and office familiarity TID Board President Charlie Fernandes believes will serve her well in her new position.
“The Board believes Michelle’s unique blend of skills and vision for the District made her the best candidate for the position,” he said. “During her career, she has advised the District on a number of major issues and challenges, and we are fortunate to have her continued leadership in this new role.”
Reimers will replace Hashimoto, who announced in April his intent to retire at the end of the year after 34 years with TID and nine years as General Manager. He, too, approved of his successor.
“Michelle is a visionary leader who will help carry the interests of residents, farmers and industrial users forward as the energy and water sectors face increasing challenges,” Hashimoto said.
As Assistant General Manager, Reimers has directed state and federal legislative and regulatory efforts, been responsible for customer service and consumer programs and led all communications and brand management for TID. There have been countless accomplishments by the organization throughout her career, which include ongoing work to relicense Don Pedro, surviving four of the state’s driest years on record, managing the 2017 flood and constructing a new power plant for energy customers.
Through it all, TID has also continuously met its most important goal, Reimers added.
“We’ve done quite a few things in my 14 years, but I think that there’s also some importance to be told of the fact that we have been a very reliable utility. We’ve kept rates affordable; we are reliable and sometimes that goes unnoticed,” she said. “There’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes that allows us to have that stability.”
Until Reimers’ tenure as General Manager begins in January, she hopes to use the coming months to listen to TID customers and understand their needs. Issues she anticipates as she steps into her new role at the start of the year include the ongoing voluntary agreement negotiations with the State Water Resources Control Board in regards to river flows, in addition to dealing with new statewide gashouse emission regulations when it comes to energy.
Although she’s the first woman in TID’s 132-year history to serve as General Manager, it’s not something Reimers thinks about. She’s a trailblazer, she said, but not because of her gender.
“I’m a person with a different perspective and a different background than the traditional role, and to me that’s the difference. I’m bringing a different perspective and a community perspective, and that’s what’s important to me,” Reimers said. “I have an ability to build relationships, and in the world we’re living in today, sometimes we forget that really matters.”