March 14, 2006
ROSEMEAD, Calif., March 14, 2006—William R. (Bill) Gould, the visionary utility executive who helped pioneer the now commonly accepted use of renewable power and energy conservation to meet California’s electricity needs, has died.
Gould, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Southern California Edison (SCE), died on Saturday in Long Beach. He was 86. On Gould’s watch—1979 until his retirement in 1984—SCE earned worldwide attention with its emphasis on energy conservation and its commitment to developing renewable and alternative energy resources, such as wind and solar power.
“Far ahead of his time, Bill Gould saw the need for diverse energy resources,” said John E. Bryson, chairman, Edison International. “In addition to leading the development of our nuclear plant at San Onofre, he championed alternative energy sources as an important component of California’s resource mix. This was a pioneering position among large-company CEOs, and it had considerable impact.”
A resident of Long Beach, Gould was born and raised in Provo, Utah. After graduating from high school in 1937, Gould studied mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, naval architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and naval science at Dartmouth College.
After a tour of duty in the United States Navy, Gould joined SCE in 1948 as a mechanical engineer at the company’s Long Beach power plant, which the company sold in 1998. From humble beginnings—he did his first work from an upturned packing crate in the basement of the power plant—Gould became the company’s 10th chief executive, and the second engineer to hold that position.
Gould helped lead several major projects, including the construction of the Pacific Intertie, a major electricity transmission line linking Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a 2,200-megawatt power station in north San Diego County. In the early 1980s, he championed alternative energy programs to generate electricity to complement nuclear energy.
During Gould’s career at SCE, the company experienced phenomenal growth and received international recognition for innovation, research and technology. It was during this era that SCE became the nation’s second largest investor-owned electric utility.
Gould’s foresight was demonstrated in a widely circulated letter to employees in the 1980s, when Gould said that the utility’s policy was “to devote our corporate resources to the accelerated development of a wide variety of future electrical power sources which are renewable rather than finite.”
A member of the company’s board of directors until 1992, Gould was named California Industrialist of the Year in 1982 and, in 1983, he went to the United Nations Environmental Station in Kenya to accept, on behalf of SCE, the prestigious John and Alice Tyler Ecology-Energy prize. Also in 1983, Gould was named the “Electric Industry Man of the Year” by Electric Light and Power magazine.
Gould served as a director for several companies, among them ERC Environmental and Energy Services, Joy Technologies, Kaiser Steel, Beckman Instruments (now Beckman Coulter), and Union Bank.
Gould served as a bishop and president of the Long Beach East Stake of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and participated in several community, professional, and cultural organizations, among them the Edison Electric Institute, Long Beach Community Hospital, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the United Way, and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
In 1992, to honor Gould’s extraordinary contributions to the electric utility industry, the company established the William R. Gould Award for Engineering and Operational Excellence to recognize individual employees whose sustained career achievements in engineering, operations and environmental protection enhance the company’s leadership role in the industry. Since its creation the award has been presented to 30 Edison International employees.
Gould is survived by his wife, Millie Johnson Gould. His first wife, Erlyn, died in 1992. He also is survived by a daughter, Erlyn Madsen, sons Bill Jr., Gilbert, and Wayne, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 18, at 2 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4142 Cerritos Ave., Los Alamitos, Calif. Viewing will be held at the same location at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in honor of William R. Gould to the William R. and Erlyn J. Gould distinguished lecture on Technology and the Quality of Life, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, 295 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112-0860. (801) 581-3421.
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Based in Rosemead, Calif., Edison International (NYSE: EIX) is the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group.