A LP&L Employee’s Call of Duty to Protect the Environment
Darla Ward has been leading LP&L’s environmental and pipeline safety regulatory compliance efforts since 2009.
As an environmental compliance specialist, Ward’s role is to ensure LP&L is abiding by local, state and federal environmental regulations. She manages 20 different air, water, waste and pipeline permits and is responsible for reporting to environmental agencies at the national and state levels, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
“A permit is essentially a guideline of regulations for us to follow. For instance, we have to ensure any waste we’ve generated that can’t be reused – such as batteries or lightbulbs – are disposed of in proper landfills,” said Ward. “These permits are in place so we can make sure electricity gets to our customers safely and efficiently while staying environmentally compliant.”
In addition to her degrees and multiple professional certifications in the field, Ward’s experience with Texas rules and regulations runs deep, having spent 10 years as a compliance investigator with TCEQ. In this role, she was on the flip-side of compliance, verifying that organizations were following the mandated regulations within their permits, and issuing fines if they weren’t.
Her time there gives her a unique understanding of why these regulations exist and how important it is to abide by them.
“Having anything short of a perfect compliance record not only affects our customers and community, but it could lead to costly fines for LP&L,” continued Ward. “Fortunately, I work with a very dedicated and capable team, and we have maintained a clean record.”
Ward had an interesting journey to her current career in the energy industry. Prior to her life at LP&L and TCEQ, she received a teaching certificate from Texas Tech University and taught in the secondary education system for seven years. Looking to make a career change, she considered going into nursing but took a chemistry class that changed her future.
“I was at a crossroads in my life,” said Ward. “It wasn’t until I learned about environmental compliance that I found my true passion. Plus, I’m able to work out in the field versus in a classroom or office all day.”
Outside of work, Ward tends to her honeybee hives, spends time with her two children and new grandson and wrangles her three dogs.