Beginning in January 2021, Phil Cook takes over as CEO and general manager of Graham County Electric Coop and Graham County Utilities. Phil was hired last February as the assistant general manager. “It’s a great opportunity to lead a cooperative such as Graham County Electric and Utilities that supplies essential services to our community,” Phil says.
Raised in the Gila Valley, Phil comes back home after working for the Central Arizona Project for 24 years. “It will have its challenges as the industry is changing,” he says. “We need to keep rates manageable, through timely system upgrades, implementing technology and looking for efficiencies.” With Arizona energy rules changing, regulated utilities will have to focus on new renewable-energy mandates. Phil believes each manager is selected in a time when the business has a need. “My strength is technology and predictive maintenance,” he says. “As the business environment changes, technology will be critical to the utility industry, and we need to adapt.” Items of focus will be finding ways to be more efficient, improving communication, reducing outages and planning for the future.
“After a fairly thorough talent search and interview process, Phil was selected to lead the cooperatives upon my retirement,” says Kirk Gray, retiring CEO and general manager. “Phil has the necessary skill sets and experience to lead the co-ops into a new era of renewable energy and technology. Phil is absolutely the right person for the job.”
Phil’s background in technology started when he entered the Marine Corps right out of high school. He lived in Safford through the seventh grade and moved to Pima, where he graduated. After the Marine Corps, Phil graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western International University. He worked at Phelps Dodge (now Freeport McMoRan) and worked at the Denver International Airport. He supervised the technical buildout of many technology systems that run the airport, including communications, fire protection, audio/visual and mobile data. In 1996, Phil was hired at Central Arizona Project and held several positions before retiring as director of technology in 2019.
In 2018, he and his wife, Becky (Boren), moved back to Pima where they both grew up. Phil continued to travel back and forth to Phoenix until retiring. They have three daughters, one son and one granddaughter. When he is not working on home projects, Phil plays golf, and enjoys hunting, fishing and exploring this great place where we live. If you see Phil in the office or at events, please welcome him to our co-op family.