James Haines, the former chief executive of El Paso Electric, has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Westar Energy. He takes over the company on Dec. 9.
Haines was hired Saturday. He returns to the Topeka-based utility after a six-year absence to replace David Wittig, who resigned from Westar on Friday. Wittig is currently facing federal indictment charges, including fraud and money laundering.
Haines was Westar's chief operating officer until 1996. He retired from the El Paso Electric in November 2001 and has been working as an adjunct professor of business at the University of Texas-El Paso.
Westar has more than $3 billion in debt and a credit rating that Standard and Poor's is considering downgrading further into junk status.