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New head of Seattle City Light says he’s worth the $340,000 salary

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SEATTLE -- Mayor Ed Murray has appointed a new CEO of Seattle City Light, a position that has been surrounded by scandal in recent years.

Larry Weis, the current head of Austin Energy, will step into the role on Feb. 1, 2016, if his appointment is confirmed by the Seattle City Council.

Weis replaces former City Light head Jorge Carrasco, who retired in May amid months of intense scrutiny.

Carrasco came under fire for giving more than 20 tons of city-owned copper wire to two thieves posing as Native Americans. The men said children needed the wire for craft projects.

Carrasco’s honesty was also called into question when he lied in a radio interview about asking the city for a massive pay raise.

If his appointment is confirmed, Weis will get a base salary of $340,000 a year, making him the highest paid city employee. In comparison, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole makes $250,000 a year. Mayor Ed Murray makes just over $175,000 a year.

“It’s what I could make working other places. It’s competition,” Weis said of his salary.

“As customers you can be assured that the utility is being run by a professional who has a lot of experience and knows how to keep my bills and my reliability and everything else running as best it can,” he said. “And even saying that, the pressure is on me to perform, right?”

Weis is a native of the Northwest who previously worked for Snohomish County PUD and Pend Oreille PUD. He is the current general manager of Austin Energy, the third largest city-owned utility in the country.

“Larry stood out among our many applicants from across the country,” Mayor Murray said in a statement. “He is an accomplished and recognized leader in the nation’s utility industry. In Austin, he demonstrated strong financial management skills and deep concern for the welfare of his employees. Under Larry’s leadership, City Light will continue to support a vibrant economy as the nation’s greenest utility, while providing access to affordable service to all of Seattle families.”

Seattle City Light is among the 10 largest publicly-owned utilities in the United States, serving around 750,000 residents in the Seattle area.