Edison regional president settles in to Toledo communityWritten by Danielle Stanton | | email@example.com
Two decades after starting work as an electrical engineer in a male-dominated industry, Linda Moss has emerged as one of the new high-powered leaders in Northwest Ohio.
Moss, 48, became regional president of Toledo Edison in May. Her new domain is comprised of a 340-employee company, 310,000 customers in eight counties, 1,000 miles of transmission lines and 7,000 miles of distribution lines.
“I’ve always found it to be a great career path,” Moss said. “I understand it to be dominated with men, but not a challenge I wouldn’t overcome. I’ve always had a successful career. It’s been a good opportunity with me. It put me in a position to come into this role.”
Moss’ career trajectory started 26 years ago when she hired on at Potomac Edison — which became part of Toledo Edison’s parent company FirstEnergy in 2011 — at age 22. She had just graduated with an electrical engineering degree from West Virginia University.
Her first job was as a distribution lines engineer. Not only was her work in a male-dominated industry, but she worked on the operational side, something even more unusual for women, Moss said.
“The way I approached my career was one job at a time. I was focused on doing well in the position I held at the time. I always aspired to more and to take my career to the next level,” she said.
At one point, Moss was in charge of the construction of a brand-new transmission operations center. Calling the experience “invaluable” and “incredible,” Moss said she learned a lot about company operations, knowledge she brought with her to Toledo Edison. She also earned her master’s degree while working full-time.
“I can’t honestly say 26 years ago I thought I’d be in this position [as regional president],” Moss said. “I’m very humbled by the position. I think people recognize you for the work you do and the job you hold.”
Dennis Chack, president of Ohio operations for FirstEnergy, said he has no doubts Moss will serve her new customers well as the leader of Toledo Edison.
“Running a utility company requires a diverse set of skills, and Linda’s success in so many operational roles in our company, coupled with her engineering background and her management experience, made her the right person for this job,” Chack said.
Moss said Toledo rolled out the welcome mat for her after she relocated 400 miles from Hagerstown, Md., to assume her new post.
“Toledo is wonderful,” she said. “It’s just such a welcoming town and everyone here has made me feel a part of their family.”
Moss has spent the past seven months acclimating to a new city, new people and new responsibilities and said that to fill the big shoes left for her — by previous Toledo Edison regional president Randall Frame, who was promoted to regional president of Ohio Edison — she’ll continue to stay the course.
That means maintaining the company’s level of reliability and safety. People take utility companies for granted until they flick their switch and get nothing, she said, which is how it should be. People expect great service and she intends to exceed those expectations.
“Looking at Toledo Edison, we have the highest reliability rating of all public utilities in the state of Ohio,” Moss said. “We’ve held that level for three years.”
Moss wants to keep that rating and continue to help customers affected by storms, high winds or other outages restore their power as soon as possible. Her objective is to spend money on what’s called “reliability” projects, such as the $12 million recently spent on a Fulton County substation.
Toledo Edison spent $23 million on reliability projects in 2013. That includes $6 million on tree trimming, $6 million on pole replacement and $3 million in equipment upgrades. Another substation is planned for 2015 in the Perrysburg area, she said.
“Toledo Edison has provided excellent reliable service,” Moss said. “The challenge is to continue to provide this service.”
As she focuses on product delivery, she’s also keeping an eye to safety. Moss said she will maintain the company’s safety and first responder program, in which first responders learn about electricity and how to deal with electrical emergencies, such as downed power lines.
“Safety, it’s our highest priority,” she said. “Dealing with an invisible entity can be fatal. We respect it and try to provide safety services as best as possible.”
After two decades in the utility business, Moss has experienced a first at Toledo Edison. The company owns the Edison Plaza building, a high-rise in Downtown Toledo, making Moss a landlord for the first time. She said it’s given her the valuable opportunity to form relationships with her tenants, which include the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Growth Partnership and many nonprofits.
She is currently gearing up for a new $2.8 billion program by FirstEnergy that will funnel money to Toledo Edison for projects to improve service, Moss said. Employees are now identifying equipment that needs replacing, like transmission lines and poles, in anticipation of the new money that may arrive in January or February. There’s no word yet on how much Toledo Edison will get, she said.
“It’s a fairly new project and we’re still working through the details,” Moss said
Moss’s husband, Jerry, made the move with her to Toledo, along with their 21-year-old daughter, who is attending Owens Community College, majoring in accounting. They also have two other grown children and three grandchildren.
When Moss is not working or serving on multiple boards, she enjoys playing golf and is already looking forward to the spring. She’s also involved in the community through Toledo Edison.
Moss did not identify any changes she would make as the new regional president, saying Toledo Edison was “well-run” for many years before her tenure. If she can maintain service and safety and customer satisfaction, then she will consider herself a success, she said.
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