Phyllis Currie is unique in the power industry. For starters, Currie, an African American woman, came to lead a public utility only after she had retired. Unlike many industry leaders, Currie, general manager of the Pasadena Department of Water & Power, attributes her success to her ability to deal with the vicissitudes of municipal politics and finance and to fund major capital projects?not to engineering acumen, the traditional route to the top. Although noting that she was an ?outsider,? Currie said she was able to finesse the job because ?I knew the city structure.? ?My position was at the same level as the assistant general manager for water and power, and they had not had a woman or a person of color at that level,? she said. Currie started in the utility business at LADWP in 1992 as chief financial officer. She had worked in the city administrative office for 20 years, much of that time developing capital project budgets and financing. When Currie worked at LADWP, women in the department labored mainly as secretaries, entry-level engineers, and human resources administrators. But today, Currie is a leader in California?s public power industry. Later this month, she will be installed as the new president of the Southern California Public Power Authority, which includes 12 municipal utilities, including her old employer, LADWP. She also is active in the Electric Power Research Institute. When Currie took over Pasadena?s muni in the midst of the energy crisis, she said her biggest immediate challenge was ?making sure we were not captive to a volatile energy market.? She quickly pushed through construction of two new turbines with a combined capacity of 90 MW and repowered two existing units. She said the move?along with the city?s long-term power-purchase agreements?helped maintain relatively low electricity rates in Pasadena. Currie?s new priority is to push for $500 million to $800 million in upgrades in the city?s aging electricity transmission network. Another key priority for Currie is to implement a 20 percent renewables portfolio standard by 2017. The city department has one small hydropower project and has invested in a landfill gas and wind power project that will provide 6.5 percent renewable power. ?The challenge for us is that we don?t need any more resources right now,? Currie said. But new resources could be needed when the city?s power-purchase contract with the Bonneville Power Administration expires in 2008.