Chip Pardee, the No. 2 executive for the Tennessee Valley Authority, is retiring at the end of the year.
Pardee, TVA's chief operating officer for the past three and a half years, announced Monday he will leave the federal utility in December. Pardee was paid $2.98 million last year, making him one of the highest paid federal employees in America.
He joined TVA in April 2013 after previously serving as chief operating officer of Exelon Generation and chairman of constellation Energy Nuclear Group, an Exelon subsidiary.
Over the past three years, Pardee has helped improve the performance of TVA's power generation fleet and used cheaper fuel and purchased power agreements to help lower the average price of TVA's delivered power by nearly 5 percent. In a news release Monday, TVA also said the improvements made under Pardee are helping cut air pollution and lower carbon emissions.
TVA said Pardee will work with President and CEO Bill Johnson to transition Pardee's responsibilities over the coming months.
The utility has completed construction of its last new nuclear power plant at Watts Bar and is replacing several of its coal units with new, more flexible natural gas-powered generation. That will further cut TVA's roughly 10,000-employee staff, which is down by more than 2,000 employees in the past three years.
TVA plans on cutting another $104 million in operating expenses and staff costs this year, and the utility has not decided if it will fill Pardee's position, at least as it has previously been structured.
TVA is the nation's largest public utility. It serves about 9 million people in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.