Brian Probolsky, CEO of the controversial Orange County Power Authority, was fired by board members behind closed doors on Wednesday afternoon in a split vote after years of debate. 

His dismissal comes after a turbulent two years in which he oversaw the agency’s creation and successful launch, followed by four failed audits, including one that found he improperly approved contracts without the board’s approval. 

[Read: State Auditor Lambasts OC’s Green Energy Agency Over Transparency and Contracting]

Probolsky’s last day will be on May 30, and while the board has identified an “internal candidate,” to take over as acting CEO they have not yet accepted. 

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Probolsky highlighted the agency’s successful launch and focused on his successes in hiring a staff.

“In the past 24 months, I helped Orange County power Authority grow from an idea into one of California’s largest and greenest retail energy providers,” Probolsky said.

The push to fire Probolsky came from Irvine Councilmembers Kathleen Treseder and Tammy Kim, along with Buena Park Councilman Jose Trinidad Castaneda, who all voted to remove Probolsky. 

County supervisor Don Wagner voted against firing him, while Fullerton Mayor and chair of the board Fred Jung abstained from the vote. 

Huntington Beach Councilman Casey McKeon was absent from the meeting. 

“I want to publicly thank our CEO for getting this agency to where it is,” Jung said after they announced Probolsky’s dismissal. “Hopefully this isn’t an exercise in futility for us all.”

In an interview after the meeting, Kim said that Probolsky’s firing was “inevitable,” due to how much focus he’d picked up during the audits.

But, she said, the power authority’s issues run beyond the CEO’s office. 

“I think it was a systemwide issue and in many ways, one could argue that he was taking direction from the former chair,” Kim said. “The people who structured the original board iteration, which was Mike Carroll and Farrah Khan, how much of it was their responsibility and how much was him simply taking instructions, I don’t know.” 

“I think it’s important that we move onto the next chapter.” 

Carroll, who previously served as chair of the board at the agency, and Khan did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite firing him, Kim, Castaneda and Treseder praised Probolsky at the end of the meeting. 

“I really appreciate Mr. Probolsky’s efforts at creating this agency,” Treseder said, who made removing Probolsky and improving the power authority a cornerstone of her campaign. 

Kim also complimented his work, and called the previous board “challenging,” to work under. 

“You’ve held composure and grace under pressure,” Kim said. “I just applaud all your work and all your efforts. Kudos to you.” 

Castaneda praised the team Probolsky built at the agency, and shared hopes that it would help continue the agency’s development. 

“It is telling that despite the challenges and the uphill battles we’ve all shared together, you’ve provided so much leadership in bringing a team that will bring about this vision of transforming Orange County,” Castaneda said. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work you’ve done.” 

Probolsky’s firing also attracted attention from state Senator Dave Min, who previously called for Probolsky to either resign or be fired. 

“While we are still a long way from fully restoring public trust, this was the right choice by the Board of Directors and a step toward greater accountability,” Min said in a statement.

Jung said he abstained from voting because of McKeon’s absence in a phone call with Voice of OC after the meeting, and declined to comment when asked which way he would’ve voted on the issue. 

According to his contract, Probolsky is entitled to around $120,000 in severance pay, but no final figure was announced by the board at the meeting. 

The agency includes the cities of Buena Park, Fullerton, Huntington Beach and Irvine, and was founded with the goal of expanding access to more renewable energy throughout the county. 

Instead, most of the agency’s existence has been overshadowed by questions around a systemic lack of transparency and whether or not Probolsky was qualified to lead the agency, given his lack of experience or training in running an electric utility.

Those questions grew to a boiling point after four audits found the agency failed to properly inform the public during its rollout and regularly raised questions over how money was being handled and if the board had enough oversight of its staff. 

One of those audits also found that Probolsky had improperly approved contracts on his own without bringing them to the board.

[Read: Cloudy Contracts, Audits and Lost County Support: A Rough Year For OC’s Green Power Agency]

The audits prompted the county supervisors to pull out last December, and set off a series of discussions in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Fullerton over whether or not they should leave as well. 

Irvine no longer appears to be on the fence about leaving, with both Treseder and Kim pledging to stay in at the meeting. 

The agency is in the midst of implementing an improvement plan responding to the complaints raised by auditors, with a goal of improving transparency and implementing new oversight measures of staff. 

[Read: OC’s Controversial Green Energy Agency Tries Winning Back Public Trust]

Probolsky reported the agency is now over halfway done with implementing the new plan, and over the last month rolled out new policies like evaluations of their contractors’ performances and assuring they have sufficient cost details before signing a contract.

With Probolsky’s departure, Jung is now the only remaining board member or staff member from the agency’s birth in Dec. 2020, after general counsel Ryan Baron resigned earlier this year following complaints that he contributed to the agency’s opaque structure. 

[Read: OC Green Power Agency’s Top Lawyer Resigns Before Possibly Being Fired]

While there were multiple other attempts to fire Probolsky, most of them stalled after he filed a whistleblower complaint against former board members alleging they were trying to remove him to implement their own corrupt scheme. 

[Read: Chaos Grips OC’s Green Power Agency, CEO Under Fire, Files Whistleblower Complaint]  

The agency did investigate his whistleblower complaint, but a report of their findings was never released. 

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.

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