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The Empire District Electric Company Announces New Operations Officers

Business Wire
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Following yesterday’s meeting of the board of directors of The Empire District Electric Company, Mr. D. Randy Layne, board chairman, announced changes to the Company’s senior management team. Effective March 1, 2015, Mr. Blake Mertens, who currently serves as vice president – Energy Supply, will become vice president – Energy Supply and Delivery Operations. Mr. Brent Baker will assume the role of vice president – Customer Service, Transmission, and Engineering effective March 1, 2015, replacing Mr. Martin Penning who will retire on February 28, 2015.

Blake Mertens (Photo: Business Wire)

Blake Mertens (Photo: Business Wire)

As vice president – Energy Supply and Delivery Operations, Mr. Mertens will have responsibility for the electricity generation function and operations and maintenance of the line, substation and water systems.

He will assure the continued cost-effective availability of electrical energy through the overall guidance of operation and maintenance of all existing Company power plants, development of new generation options, coal and rail service procurement, gas procurement, gas hedging, and bulk power marketing and unit commitment. He will also be responsible for line, substation and water system operation and maintenance as well as compliance with environmental and NERC regulations.

Mr. Mertens joined the Company in 2001 as staff engineer in Energy Supply. Positions he has held include combustion turbine construction project manager, manager of Strategic Projects, assistant director of Strategic Projects, director of Strategic Projects, Environmental, and Safety and vice president – Energy Supply.

Prior to his employment with Empire, he was an energy consultant for Black & Veatch of Overland Park, Kansas.

Mr. Mertens is a licensed professional engineer. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University and a Masters of Business Administration at Missouri State University.

Mr. Mertens currently serves as vice chair for the board of the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center in Joplin and as a board member of the Joseph E. Newman Innovation Center. He has been an active leader in various youth athletic programs in Carl Junction.

Mr. Baker will become general manager – Customer Service, Transmission, and Engineering, on November 1. In this capacity, he will be responsible for the commercial activities of the Company including all aspects of customer service and marketing, transmission and distribution engineering, system performance, land management, and transmission operations as well as compliance with FERC and NERC regulations.

Effective March 1, 2015, Mr. Baker will assume the role of vice president – Customer Service, Transmission, and Engineering.

Mr. Baker joined the Company in 2002. Positions he has held include structural engineer, senior structural engineer, manager of Construction Design and director of Customer Service.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri. Mr. Baker is a registered professional engineer.

He currently serves as president of the Downtown Joplin Alliance. He also serves as a board member of Children’s Haven of Southwest Missouri and the Republic, Missouri, Business and Industrial Development Association. He is the past president and state director for the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers Southwest Chapter and is an advisory committee member for Project Lead the Way. Mr. Baker is on the executive board of the Young Professionals Network of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Based in Joplin, Missouri, The Empire District Electric Company (NYSE: EDE) is an investor-owned, regulated utility providing electricity, natural gas (through its wholly owned subsidiary The Empire District Gas Company), and water service, with approximately 217,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. A subsidiary of the company provides fiber optic services. For more information regarding Empire, visit

Certain matters discussed in this press release are “forward-looking statements” intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements address future plans, objectives, expectations, and events or conditions concerning various matters. Actual results in each case could differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements, by reason of the factors noted in our filings with the SEC, including the most recent Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.

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