Mark W. Schwirtz, chief executive officer of the Trico Electric Cooperative since 2006, has resigned the position to become chief executive officer of Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative based in Amarillo, Texas.

Charlie Emerson, Trico’s manager of engineering, is going to serve as interim CEO. Emerson has been with Trico more than 30 years, according to Trico spokeswoman Romi Carrell Wittman.

“I wasn’t looking to leave Trico,” Schwirtz said. “But this was a perfect fit.”

Golden Spread both generates and transmits electricity for 185,000 customers on the Oklahoma Panhandle as well as 24 percent of the land area of Texas, including the Texas Panhandle. Marana-based Trico is a non-profit electric cooperative serving 40,000 customers in northwest Tucson, Marana, Corona de Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Three Points and Arivaca. It buys all its power from the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Benson.

Schwirtz submitted his resignation in October, according to Wittman. His last day in the position is this Friday, Dec. 5.

During Schwirtz’s tenure “he has achieved several corporate milestones, including positioning the company so it can better meet the future challenges of the energy market,” a release said.

“We’re going through a rate case right now,” Wittman said. “We face future energy challenges, as all utilities are, in terms of energy availability. Mark’s been looking at power supply issues, structuring the company to keep our rates down, and putting staff in place to do so.”

“The core and heart of the company remain the same,” Schwirtz said.

Trico’s board of directors has begun a nationwide search to fill the executive position. It hopes to have someone in place “in the next four to six months,” the release said.

“We’ve put out ads in cooperative publications across the country, looking for someone with co-op experience,” Wittman said.

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