BPA CEO Mainzer To Leave Agency At End Of Month, Will Become New CEO Of California Independent System Operator

Elliot Mainzer, who has served as administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Bonneville Power Administration for the past seven years, will leave the agency at the end of August.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) on Thursday (Aug.6) announced that Mainzer will become its new president and CEO. He will succeed the retiring Steve Berberich on September 30, 2020.

“It’s been a tremendous honor to serve as BPA administrator and CEO, said Mainzer. “I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Energy, the BPA community, our customers, tribal, state and federal officials, members of the environmental community, and our other regional partners for collaborating with us to strengthen and modernize BPA and position the agency as an engine of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability for many years to come.”

Mainzer was sworn in as the 15th administrator in BPA’s 83-year history on Feb. 20, 2014 after serving as acting administrator since July 2013.

Mainzer became acting administrator in the wake of a Department of Energy Inspector General report indicating that BPA had discriminated against veterans in its hiring practices and retaliated against employees who attempted to report the discrimination. That led to the suspension of BPA Administrator Bill Drummond, who had only served six months, and Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker.

— CBB, July 19, 2013, HOUSE COMMITTEE SEEKS DOCUMENTS RELATED TO BPA HIRING PRACTICES; MAINZER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR

“Mainzer served as administrator during a period of significant industry change,” said BPA in a press release. “In response, he led the development of BPA’s 2018-2023 strategic plan, which serves as a roadmap to sustain BPA’s financial strength, modernize BPA’s assets and system operations, provide competitive power products and services, and meet transmission customer needs efficiently and responsively.

“A central element of the strategic plan has been a focus on grid modernization and preparing BPA to adapt to evolving energy markets and new technologies. Mainzer also advanced new approaches to transmission planning and advocated for an enhanced regional resource adequacy program and a reinvigorated Northwest Power Pool.”

The press release said that throughout his 18-year career at BPA, “Mainzer focused on the opportunities and challenges of large-scale renewables integration and helped enable BPA to connect more than 5,000 MW of wind energy to its high-voltage transmission system.”

In recent years, said the press release, “he has also worked to strengthen regional partnerships and understanding of shared interests within the Columbia River Basin on the complex issues associated with salmon recovery, hydroelectricity, tribal culture, navigation, irrigation, and rural economic development.”

“Energy markets, technologies and public policies will continue to evolve at a rapid pace,” said Mainzer. “I am confident that with a continued focus on collaborative relationships, customer responsiveness, disciplined cost management and business agility, BPA will successfully address the market, technological and environmental challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Mainzer will continue to serve as administrator through Aug. 31. DOE says it will announce an acting administrator at a later date.

The CAISO Board of Governors said it made its appointment following a highly competitive nationwide search.

“Elliot’s demonstrated success leading a large, complex power and transmission organization will serve CAISO, our customers and stakeholders well,” the CAISO Board of Governors said in a statement. “We are happy to have a leader so knowledgeable about integrating renewables and passionate about building on CAISO’s organizational strengths and momentum toward low-carbon electricity.”

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead the creative and innovative team at CAISO and to enable California to reliably and safely achieve its ambitious clean energy and climate goals,” said Mainzer. “I also look forward to working closely with our colleagues across the West to build on the success of the Western Energy Imbalance Market and further strengthen regional coordination and technology innovation.”

“Elliot brings exceptional leadership experience, wide-ranging contacts and inclusive strategic thinking to the CEO position,” the Western Energy Imbalance Market Governing Body said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Elliot as we continue to enhance and expand the financial, environmental and reliability benefits of the WEIM.”

Mainzer joined BPA in 2002 and has held a variety of management positions in the agency’s Power, Transmission and Corporate organizations, including trading floor manager and manager of transmission policy and strategy. As executive vice president of Corporate Strategy, he led BPA’s strategic planning process and provided policy leadership and cross-agency coordination on renewable resources, market design, climate change, and integrated planning.

Mainzer, a San Francisco native, earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees in business administration and environmental studies from Yale University.

Berberich served 14 years with CAISO, the last nine as CEO. “He led efforts to shift California’s grid to advanced clean resources, including solar, wind, storage, demand response and distributed energy programs,” said a CAISO press release.

“He was instrumental in upgrading energy management and market software, and guided the CAISO management team to create the Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM) which will include entities serving 82% of the load in the West, and to establish CAISO as Reliability Coordinator for most of the Western Interconnection. As president of the group of the largest transmission operators worldwide, he put CAISO at the forefront of global efforts to decarbonize electric service.”

Also see:

— CBB, April 2, 2020, COUNCIL BLASTS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL TO FORCE BPA TO SELL AT MARKET RATES, SELL TRANSMISSION SYSTEM; ‘DETRIMENTAL SCHEMES’ https://www.cbbulletin.com/council-blasts-trump-administration-proposal-to-force-bpa-to-sell-at-market-rates-sell-transmission-system-detrimental-schemes/

— June 5, 2019, NW SENATORS OBJECT TO TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL TO SELL OFF BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION ASSETS; ‘A REALLY LOONY IDEA’ https://www.cbbulletin.com/nw-senators-object-to-trump-administration-proposal-to-sell-off-bonneville-power-administration-assets-a-really-loony-idea/

— CBB, Oct. 3, 2019, BONNEVILLE POWER SIGNS WESTERN ENERGY IMBALANCE MARKET IMPLEMENTATION AGREEMENT https://www.cbbulletin.com/bonneville-power-signs-western-energy-imbalance-market-implementation-agreement/

— CBB, June 25, 2019, BONNEVILLE POWER MOVES STEP CLOSER TO JOINING WESTERN ENERGY IMBALANCE MARKET; AIMED AT STRENGTHENING FINANCIAL HEALTH https://www.cbbulletin.com/bonneville-power-moves-step-closer-to-joining-western-energy-imbalance-market-aimed-at-strengthening-financial-health/

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