Stoneham takes helm at power company

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FRANKLIN—With more than three decades of experience, Michael Stoneham is no stranger to the power business. Last Thursday he started his new job as the director of Franklin Power & Light.

“I can tell through the interview process that this department is well thought of in the community,” he said Monday morning, two days into his new job. “There seems to be a lot of pride on the part of the citizens in the light and power group here and I’m very happy to become a part of it and hope to contribute to this tradition.”

With the exit of longtime Power & Light Director Dave Howe in 2008 and his successor Dexter Trump earlier this year, Stoneham becomes the department’s third director in as many years.

Stoneham holds a degree in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University and has been working with electric companies since his college days.

“I paid for my education by working for the power company,” he said. He started working for Virginia Electric and Power Company at 19 years old and was offered a full-time position upon graduation.

After 36 years at VEPCO (which later became Dominion), Stoneham took an early retirement and became an independent contractor doing part-time work for Dominion.

City Manager June Fleming said that Stoneham brings a lot of experience to the department.

“We’re glad to have him,” she said. “He understands Franklin and the challenges that we face in the Power & Light Department.”

Stoneham said that he and his wife, Linda, both Hampton Roads natives, were interested in moving back to the Tidewater area from Henrico County, just outside of Richmond. He said that he found out about the job opening in the newspaper.

“My background was ideally in sync with the job requirements, and I felt like I could contribute something here and the community seems to fit our needs for coming back to Tidewater,” Stoneham said.

Stoneham and his wife are in the process of selling their home outside of Richmond and moving to Franklin.

“We intend to be full-time citizens of Franklin,” he said. “It’s wonderful; we’ve been well received, and people here are very friendly and open and want to go out of their way to help you.”

Although he hasn’t even been with the department an entire week, Stoneham already has a long to-do list.

“I’ve got a few things that I’m focused on immediately,” he said. Stoneham plans to get to know the employees better, become familiar with the city’s new contract with Dominion for the supply of electricity, the rate study and reviewing bids for a facility improvement project.

“My first big test will be to make sure I can remember everybody’s name,” he joked.

However, he is serious about the quality of service he expects the department to deliver.

“I just want to make certain that the tradition of excellent service that’s been provided by the employees thus far through Franklin Power & Light continues,” he said.

Stoneham and his wife will celebrate their 35th anniversary in November and have two adult children, John, who lives in Maryland with his wife, and Sarah, who lives in Alexandria.