Cover photo for Ronald Owen Nichols's Obituary
Ronald Owen Nichols Profile Photo

Ronald Owen Nichols

September 16, 1953 — June 6, 2019

Ronald Owen Nichols

September 16, 1953 — June 6, 2019

Ronald Owen Nichols
September 16, 1953 - June 6, 2019.

Ron Nichols passed away June 6, 2019 at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, California from complications related to a stroke. He was being treated for Stage IV metastatic gastric cancer at the City of Hope in Duarte, California. He was 65. He resided in Arcadia, California at the time of his passing. Arrangements are under the direction of Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services, Monrovia, California.

Born in Denver, Colorado on September 16, 1953 to Jack and Bonnie Nichols, he lived there with his older brother and his parents until moving to Danville, California when he was 15.

Ron was one of those fortunate people in life. He did what he loved and loved what he did. Often described as one of the brightest minds in the utility industry, Ron's career spanned nearly 40 years. Ron had that unique ability to synthesize complex solutions to seemingly intractable technical, financial, personnel and political problems facing today's utility industry. He was able to bring everyone up to his level with grace and humor. To a person, everyone who ever worked with Ron said "We worked hard and laughed a lot."

Ron graduated from UC Davis in 1975 with a degree in Agricultural Economics. During his senior year, Ron interned with the newly created California Energy Commission, where he wrote a paper on the economic barriers limiting improved energy conservation in residential housing. He found that building codes did not provide the right incentives. The Energy Commission subsequently responded by prioritizing needed changes to the building standards to influence energy efficiency measures in California. In the mid-1970s, when California's utilities had plans for numerous new nuclear- & coal-fired power plants. Ron oversaw a team to craft regulations & requirements for new power plants in California.

After three years at the Energy Commission & two years with the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Ron and a DWR colleague, Lloyd Harvego, started Resource Management International, a consulting company dealing with water & energy infrastructure planning and development. The company expanded to 14 offices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia with 425 employees. After selling the company in 1997 to Meztler Group, which was subsequently renamed Navigant in 1999, Ron stayed on to head up the company's energy practice for another 10 years.

During his consulting years Ron worked on many projects including Long Island Power Authority, which at the time was the largest and most complex municipal financing in the nation. He also worked for two years with California Department of Water Resources and the Governor's Office on the California Energy Crisis in 2000 and 2001, which had been brought about by deregulation of the California Energy market. Ron worked closely with DWR to renegotiate contracts with power suppliers & investor-owned utilities to purchase power under long-term contracts. Ron's work with DWR also included efforts at increasing power supply, improving energy conservation, and stabilizing the electricity industry in California.

In 2010, the Mayor's Office of the City of Los Angeles called to speak to Ron about becoming general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP). By virtue of Ron's extensive career in the utility industry, he was uniquely qualified to deal with the nexus of Southern California politics, water, 3 electric utility issues.

After 3 years at LADWP, Ron joined Southern California Edison in 2014. He was elevated to President in 2016. At SCE, he was known for championing programs to improve air quality and health outcomes in Southern California's environmentally impacted communities. In 2017, he partnered with the Greenlining Institute in launching the Clean Energy Access Working Group to identify and remove barriers associated with clean energy technology deployment in underserved communities. He also served as the executive sponsor of SCE's Asian Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group. Ron was passionate about transportation electrification as the key to meeting California's 2030 greenhouse gas and air pollution reduction goals. Ron Nichols was instrumental in establishing a new organization, Veloz, a nonprofit organization with the goal to accelerate the shift to electric cars through public-private collaboration, public engagement & policy education innovation. Ron was a founding Board Member of Veloz. Ron's work in the energy business earned him many accolades, most recently as Smart Electric Power Alliance's 2019 Power Player of the Year.

Ron was passionate about skiing and enjoyed heli-skiing with his brother-in-law, Lowell Shields. Ron was also a collector of Riva classic wooden boats and enjoyed plying the waters of Lake Tahoe and Lake Coeur d'Alene with his Rivas.

Ron is survived by his wife of 29 years, Cheryl Shields. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his brother Terry Nichols, and nephew Telan Nichols, as well as aunts, uncles and a multitude of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins from both his mother's extensive family and his father's side of his family, most of whom hail from Washington & Alaska. Everyone in Ron's family idolized Ron and they all looked up to him.

A Celebration of Life is being held at the Edison International Corporate Headquarters, June 29, 2019 at 9:30 am. A second Celebration of Life will be held in Sacramento at the Firehouse Restaurant and Courtyard, 1112 2nd St., Sacramento, CA on July 11, 2019 from 5 to 7pm. Ron, with his sense of humor and passion for all he did, will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
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Funeral planning is funded through the purchase of whole life insurance from National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Madison, WI (NGL). A qualified Forest Lawn Planning Advisor who has been both licensed by the California Department of Insurance and appointed as an agent of NGL can answer any questions. Forest Lawn Mortuary (licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs as Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services) is an agent of NGL. National Guardian Life Insurance Company is not affiliated with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, aka The Guardian or Guardian Life.

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