Westar names CEO successor

Mark Ruelle, Westar Energy's chief financial officer, was named Thursday to succeed the retiring Bill Moore as president and chief executive of the utility.

The announcement came during Westar's annual shareholder meeting in Topeka.

Ruelle, 49, became president and chief financial officer Thursday and will replace Moore when he retires later this year. Moore remains as CEO and a board member until the retirement date, which has not been announced.

Moore said he's stepping aside after more than three decades with the company to do things he has put off during his Westar career.

"I don't have a good work/life balance," he said. "I've put a lot of things off as part of this company, and it's time to go do some of those things — hunting, fishing, vacations without having to answer the phone."

Moore said he leaves the company in great shape.

"We're no different than any other business with challenges in this economy and the environmental regulations that are being put out there," he said. "There are always issues facing an electric utility in balancing customer and investor needs."

Westar board chairman Charlie Chandler, a Wichita banker, praised Ruelle's work.

"Mark was instrumental in Westar's return to being a strong, successful electric utility," Chandler said in a statement. "In addition to doing an outstanding job as CFO, Mark has been integral in developing and executing Westar's business strategy."

Moore said Ruelle is a good leader and communicator.

"He's well positioned to keep the company going," Moore said.

"A good steady hand, not only on the financial side where we've had to raise a lot of money to meet mandated projects on the environment, transmission and renewable energy, but he's also had the important issues associated with new technologies, IT and all the human resource issues."

Moore said he has made no decision on where he and his family will live.

"I've got a transition period here that's my main focus, and I'm working with Mark," he said. "We'll make those decisions over time."