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Maritime Electric is the only employer John Gaudet has known in his professional career.
And after 39 years with the company, Gaudet has decided to retire at the end of the month as president and CEO.
"I've been able to participate in so many things over the years at Maritime Electric. It really leaves me with a great sense of satisfaction," said Gaudet on Friday. Jason Roberts will be taking over as president and CEO on Aug. 1.
Based in Charlottetown, Maritime Electric is owned by the Newfoundland and Labrador-based company Fortis Inc. Maritime Electric has about 83,000 customers on P.E.I. and 185 employees.
Gaudet was born and raised in Charlottetown. He has a diploma in engineering from UPEI and a bachelor of electrical engineering from the (now former) Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). Gaudet began his career with Maritime Electric in 1981 as an engineer in training, and became the company's president and CEO on April 1, 2016.
Gaudet is only 61. Last fall, he had a health scare that turned out to be nothing. But it made him think about the future. Gaudet's wife is also retired. So, the couple's plans are to take the summer off and have a staycation. Gaudet still plans to do some volunteer work and spend more time with family and friends.
A moment that stands out for Gaudet is the company's response to repair one of two submarine cables in the Northumberland Strait that were severed in December 1997 by a ship's anchor. At that time, Gaudet was new to Maritime Electric's executive management team.
"That happened during a significant ice storm," he said. "It's late in the year. The weather window for being on the Northumberland Straight was very narrow. And, it's well known that ice moves in and any marine activity would be ended."
The repairs were completed on Dec. 26, one day before that window closed. Without the repairs being completed, Maritime Electric would have resorted to more on-Island energy options at a significant cost to customers.
"Fortunately, we were able to bring that project to a close before that happened," he said. "That will always stay with me. I don't think customers noticed any of that. But that's the role of a service provider - to take the efforts necessary to do what is required ... I think that was the most pressure filled, sleepless period in my life that ended well."
The other thing that Gaudet will remember is the way the company's employees have pulled together during COVID-19 and continued to provide an essential service. "It was a trying time, especially early on where we really didn't know what was going to happen next," Gaudet said.
"Excited to say the least. This is a huge opportunity for me. John is an exceptional leader and he was an amazing mentor to me and he got me ready for this position. I feel very good about where we are as an organization right now and the opportunities ahead of me." - Jason Roberts
Roberts joined Maritime Electric in 2000. In 2006, he became the company's director of regulatory and financial planning, a job he held until he was promoted in 2017 to serve as vice-president of finance and chief financial officer and corporate secretary. Roberts is originally from Norris Point, N.L. He has a bachelor of commerce degree from Memorial University and completed a Chartered Accountant (CPA) designation in 1997.
"Excited to say the least. This is a huge opportunity for me," Roberts said. "John is an exceptional leader and he was an amazing mentor to me and he got me ready for this position. I feel very good about where we are as an organization right now and the opportunities ahead of me."
Roberts said the top priority for the company in the next 12 months is to continue to get through COVIV-19 and provide essential services for customers. The company is also waiting on a decision from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission about an application for proposed rates.
Gaudet is a proud Islander, and proud that he grew up in Charlottetown near Rochford Square, only a short walk to the Maritime Electric building on Kent Street.
"I've been very fortunate. I was raised here and had my career here, where I was born. A lot of young people don't have that opportunity anymore, maybe they don't want that. But I'm from an age where family and friends and neighbours means a lot, and through this job, I've been able to work with a lot of people across the Island," said Gaudet. "Sometimes people were not happy with Maritime Electric. But, at the end of the day, they were able to put down their differences and welcome me into their home as a fellow Islander. The memories of that really are very good to me."