Vol69-12 December 2019

SMECO CEO announces retirement

SMECO president and CEO Austin J. Slater, Jr., submitted his retirement letter to the Board of Directors at the monthly board meeting held Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

In his letter, Slater recounted his tenure as CEO for the past 17 years as rewarding. “I have proudly worked for our cooperative for more than 33 years,” Slater said. “It is impossible for me to imagine my life without the time devoted, relationships made, and rewarding accomplishments I’ve experienced and shared with so many people here at SMECO and in the Southern Maryland community.”


Slater joined SMECO in 1979 as senior vice president of the Finance and Accounting Department. He left in 1995 to become the lead for utility management practice for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). He served as CEO and general manager of Tideland Electric Membership Corporation in North Carolina before returning to NRECA as vice president of national consulting and training. Slater returned to SMECO in December 2002 as the CEO.

Scott White, Chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, said, “Joe’s leadership of the co-op has been transformational. His impact on SMECO, our employees, our members and the Southern Maryland community has been truly noteworthy. We completed the Southern Maryland Reliability Project, installed smart meters throughout our service area, built a new engineering and operations facility, and invested in technological upgrades that benefit all of SMECO’s members. It takes great leadership skills to run an organization like SMECO, and Joe has displayed courage, vision, confidence, inspiration, and dedication in his role as CEO.”

To allow time for the board to select a replacement and ensure a smooth transition, Slater said that he would continue in his role as long as necessary, but that the process should be completed and a new CEO should be in place in March 2020.

The cooperative has grown under Slater’s presidency
2003 2019
Total customers 128,046 166,275
System peak 720 MW* 1,010.7 MW**
Total miles of line 8,909.1 10,345.4
Number of substations 44 54
Capital credits refunded to date: General refunds $42,767,565 $82,381,682
Capital credits refunded to date: Estates $8,173,000 $19,864,927
Total full-time employees 450 471

*January 2003
**January 2018

SMECO weathered major storms during Slater’s presidency