Kirkwood to retire after 13 years leading Pascoag Utility District


BURRILLVILLE – The general manager and CEO of a Burrillville-based utility company, who is credited with making significant strides in the enhancement of Pascoag’s water system, as well as upgrading electrical service and overseeing recent progress in a planned merger, is soon set to retire.

Michael Kirkwood will retire effective June 30 after 13 years of leadership with the Pascoag Utility District.

Kirkwood, who has held numerous positions in the energy field over the past four decades, received a master’s of science degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He joined the quasi-public utility company in 2011, coming from a position as director of market and regulatory affairs at EquiPower Resources in Connecticut. Kirkwood previously worked for companies including BG Group, National Grid, Mirant New England, NSTAR and Commonwealth Electric Company.

As PUD’s chief executive, Kirkwood has been responsible for for all matters related to operations and financial performance. The public power entity provides electric distribution service to approximately 5,000 customers, and water production and distribution to more than 1,000 customers.

In 2021, Kirkwood was recognized with a distinguished service award by the Northeast Public Power Association.

Over the past year, he has been among the leaders in an effort to merge PUD with the Harrisville Water District to create the Clear River Electric and Water District, or CREW, a new entity set to own and operate the current electric distribution system in Pascoag and Harrisville, as well as the water production and distribution system in the villages of Harrisville, Pascoag and Oakland.

The merger, which was approved by customers in a vote in April, is on track to officially take effect on January 1 of 2025.

Kirkwood, now 68, told NRI NOW he’s been planning the retirement for years, but described success with the planned merger as, “the cherry on top.”

“I pushed hard and worked with great people on both sides to make it happen, and luckily the timing worked out to get the new company in place before I leave,” he said.

The change must now receive final approval from the General Assembly, and the state legislature is expected to vote on the issue in their 2024 session, before it ends in June.

And starting Monday, July 1, William Guertin, who is currently second in charge as PUD’s assistant general manager, will take over the lead role.

“Bill is a lifetime Burrillville resident, and has over 30 years here at PUD, so he will be a perfect fit,” said Kirkwood.

Members of the Burrillville Town Council issued a proclamation this month thanking the utility leader for his dedicated service, and pointing to achievements at PUD during Kirkwood’s tenure. The CEO, it noted, oversaw refurbishment of Pascoag’s two water tanks, bolstering the efficiency and reliability of the water distribution network; secured crucial funding that facilitated the upgrade of Pascoag’s substation, a milestone marked by the installation of Rhode Island’s first battery storage system; and had integral involvement in the tangent generator project, which significantly contributed to the reduction of peak demands for customers.

And of course, “Mike’s instrumental role in the successful merger between Pascoag Utility District and Harrisville Water Department stands as a testament to his strategic vision and dedication to fostering collaboration for the betterment of the community,” notes the proclamation.

For Kirkwood – other than the merger – the greatest source of pride from his time at PUD has been the improvements made to the water system.

“We now have a water system that is in as good a shape as our electric system,” he said. “Refurbishing the water storage tanks, installing a SCADA data system, cleaning and lining the water mains, installing new hydrants and valves, etc. has completely modernized a system that was in really poor shape when I got here.”

He said he can’t think of a better way to have spent the last third of his career. A native of southeastern Massachusetts, Kirkwood lived in Greenville through most of his 13 years at PUD, but sold his home last year to move back to the neighboring state in Fairhaven.

“My time with PUD could not have gone any better, even considering some of the challenges we’ve had,” said Kirkwood. “I came in as an outsider, and everyone here welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home from day one.”

“PUD has been an amazing experience for me,” he added. “It’s like that old saying goes, when you love your work, it doesn’t seem like work at all.”

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  1. Congrats to you Mr. Kirkwood for all your years of dedicated service to the Pascoag & Harrisville communities. You will be missed! Enjoy retirement, you’ve certainly earned the privilege! Also, congrats to Mr. Guertin on the promotion, couldn’t go to a better individual! Cheers!

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