After nearly four decades spent keeping Brantford’s lights on, George Mychailenko will retire as chief executive officer of Brantford Power Inc.
Mychailenko, an electrical engineer, became CEO of the city-owned utility after the electricity industry deregulated in 2000.
He oversaw the completion of Brantford’s transition from a 5,000 volt to 27,000 volt system, a 20-year process that more than quintupled the city’s power capacity.
“As you go through your career there are challenges that come up, and you look at them and you solve them,” Mychailenko said. “With the 5,000 volts, the capacity was limiting, and we decided we had to increase the voltage.”
The conversion program involved replacing every hydro wire, pole and insulator on the grid. It began in the early 1990s while Mychailenko was director of engineering and operations with the Hydro-Electric Commission of Brantford, Brantford Power’s predecessor.
“We’ve basically rebuilt the city within the last 25 years,” Mychailenko said. “It’s a dramatic capacity jump that really does put the city in a good position for the future as far as increasing loads or any new industries that may want to have additional loads.”
He cited the construction of the new power substation on Powerline Road, done in co-operation with Brant County Power Inc., as another significant achievement during his tenure.
“That’s a major installation for a utility our size,” he said.
Mychailenko began his career with the Public Utilities Commission of Brantford in 1976, becoming the director of engineering before filling the same position at the Hydro-Electric Commission.
“When I started, we had a lot of lead splices and slowly moved to plastic cable,” he said, reflecting on how the system has modernized as the city expanded.
Transformers that ran underground were replaced by the ubiquitous green vertical boxes that now dot suburban lawns.
“(The system) has always been progressing – new technologies, new materials and so on,” Mychailenko said.
Mychailenko’s engineering background helped him stay informed about water and transit issues and monitor ongoing projects.
“(As an engineer) you have a better insight as to what may or may not be a problem,” he said. “You can ask very pointed questions about what’s going on.”
He chaired the Brantford Chapter of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and lent his professional expertise to a number of advisory councils and boards, including the Ontario Energy Board and the Municipal Electricity Association’s research and development committee.
He is particularly proud of the utility’s exemplary safety record, which earned Brantford Power the president’s award from the predecessor to the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Brantford Power board chair Scott Saint praised Mychailenko for his “outstanding service and longstanding commitment to Brantford Power, the electricity industry and the community.”
“His leadership leaves a legacy that positions Brantford Power for a progressive future,” Saint said.
In retirement, Mychailenko looks forward to continuing his non-profit work with Rotary Sunrise International and the Brant Community Healthcare System.
He may be stepping away from his Market Street desk, but the lifelong learner knows he will always keep an eye on the industry that powered his career.
“I wouldn’t mind keeping my hand in it one way or another, but it’ll be different than trying to run something,” he said with a laugh.
Mychailenko will officially retire on Jan. 4, 2013.