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Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced the appointment of Darren Springer as General Manager (GM) of the Burlington Electric Department (BED) at a press conference at BED. Springer brings extensive experience in the energy field to the position, including at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Effective immediately, Springer will serve as acting GM, and Mayor Weinberger will ask the City Council to consider confirmation of the appointment at its October 15, 2018 meeting.
“The Burlington Electric Department is enjoying a sustained period of customer affordability, financial improvement, positive labor relations, innovation, and progress towards some of the most ambitious climate goals in the entire American power industry,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Darren has the temperament, experiences, and skills to ensure that BED continues to advance in all of these areas, continues to transform into an outstanding 21st century utility, and continues to lead Burlington’s efforts to become a Net Zero Energy City.”
Springer already knows BED well, having served as the Chief Operating Officer and Manager of Strategy and Innovation at BED since January 2017. In that role, he managed 35 employees across five divisions and led innovative initiatives, such as BED’s efforts to offer a first-ever rebate for electric vehicles, which includes an enhanced incentive for low and moderate-income customers. Springer’s work at BED has included development of an RFP to create a Net Zero Roadmap, which will analyze different paths for the City to achieve the Net Zero Energy vision and detail economic and environmental outcomes. Springer has also served in a leadership role in the progress BED has made towards creating a District Energy System.
Prior to his work at BED, Springer’s experience included serving as Chief of Staff for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, and as Deputy Commissioner for the Vermont Department of Public Service. While in state government, Springer successfully led efforts to advance significant solar legislation and Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard, policies that now provide the regulatory foundation for several of BED’s innovative programs. Across his professional experience, Springer has led staff with diverse professional backgrounds, managed significant budgets, and shown commitments to renewable energy and public service. Springer holds a Master of Studies in Environmental Law and a Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School.
“I am excited to serve as the next General Manager of Burlington Electric Department, and want to thank Mayor Weinberger for this opportunity,” said Darren Springer. “Burlington Electric has a strong record of providing affordable and reliable electricity, while leading the way when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy. That is a testament to the strong team at BED, and I am grateful to serve with that team as we work to take the next steps to achieve the Net Zero Energy City goal.”
Springer grew up in Florida, and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a B.A. in History and a Minor in Business Administration. He moved to Vermont in 2002 to attend Vermont Law School where he met his wife Stephanie. In 2005 Springer earned a Juris Doctor and Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. During law school he served as managing editor of the Vermont Law Review and clerked for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Following law school, Springer worked for four years at the National Governors Association as a Policy Analyst and later directed its program on Energy & Transportation, assisting governors and states with energy and climate policy development. From 2009 to 2013 Springer served as a Senior Policy Advisor and later Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. During that time, Springer worked to advance legislation that ultimately brought a $1 million energy efficiency financing program to Burlington Electric. Following his move back to Vermont, Springer served as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, helping to manage a staff with diverse professional expertise. Springer worked on a range of topics at the Department including energy legislation, utility rate cases, and developing new programs such as the Heat Saver Loan Program. As Chief of Staff to Governor Shumlin, Springer served as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and helped to manage 24 agencies and departments as well as the executive office staff and budget.
Springer and his wife Stephanie married in Stowe, Vermont in 2007, and returned to Vermont permanently after spending eight years living and working in the Washington, D.C. area following law school. Springer, Stephanie, and their children live in the New North End of Burlington, and their children attend school in Burlington.
In addition to his professional work, Springer has demonstrated a personal commitment to clean energy. As BED customers, Springer and his family have installed solar electric and solar water heating panels at their home, as well as energy efficient appliances and cold-climate heat pumps that provide efficient electric heating and cooling.
As he states in his cover letter, “As a Burlingtonian…I have seen first-hand the pride our community takes in our municipal electric utility. That pride is a result of the hard work of the BED team.”
Springer is a member of the Vermont Bar, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Energy Action Network and the Vermont Natural Resources Council. He also has served as a Policy Fellow on Climate Change and Renewable Energy at the University of Vermont, and in that capacity authored a law journal article on the future of utility regulation published earlier this year in the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review.
Building on Past Success at BED
Springer will lead a department with many recent successes, including:
· Making Burlington the first American City to source 100 percent of electricity from renewable generation in 2014;
· Completing two comprehensive labor agreements with BED employees in 2015 and 2018 without resorting to arbitration;
· Receiving a December 2016 Moody’s Investors Service credit rating upgrade to “A3,” affirmed in November 2017, as a result of forward-looking financial policies, renewable power supply, competitive rates, and strong management;
· Completing an extensive re-organization that resulted in millions of dollars in cost savings for ratepayers;
· Achieving a decade of rate stability;
· Leading a six-fold increase in the number of Burlington solar installations from 2012 to 2017.
The department also has ambitious future goals, including:
- Becoming a Net Zero Energy City across the sectors of electric, thermal, and ground transportation over the next 10 to 15 years;
- Advancing the District Energy System, which would capture the heat generated by the Joseph C. McNeil Generating Station biomass plant and distribute it to customers as a heating service;
- Finding new ways to encourage people to move away from transportation that’s powered by fossil fuels, and toward electric vehicles, electric buses, and other modes of transportation that are powered by renewable energy.
The Mayor’s office began its search for a new BED GM in July 2018. The extensive process included:
- Meeting with BED employees to understand their priorities for the next leader of the Department.
- Posting the position locally, state-wide, and nationally in July 2018, a process that included targeting diverse communities and conducting supplemental recruitment efforts.
- Reviewing resumes that met minimum requirements and initial interviews of both in-state and out-of-state candidates by the following search committee, led by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Jordan Redell: Tom Dunn, President & CEO of the Vermont Electric Power Company; Jim (Duke) Dutra, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Chief Steward; Sabina Haskell, Electric Light Commissioner; Mike Kanarick, Manager of Customer Care and Communications; Scott Moody, Electric Light Commissioner; Karen Paul, City Councilor; Mark Stephenson, Owner & General Manager, Vermont Energy Contracting & Supply; Lynn Reagan, Human Resources Manager for BED.
- Interviewing three finalist candidates presented to the Mayor for consideration by the search committee.
At the conclusion of the search, Springer’s skills and experience working with regulatory bodies and leadership on many of BED’s top priorities made him an outstanding candidate to continue the momentum and progress of the City’s ambitious agenda to become a Net Zero Energy City.
“My congratulations to Darren on his appointment as the GM of BED,” said City Councilor Karen Paul, a member of the BED GM search committee and former Chair of the Electric Commission, who joined the Mayor and Springer for the announcement. “I have no doubt that he will be a visionary leader for this amazing public asset that we all value so dearly. There is much work to be done and the road ahead, while exciting and filled with opportunity, will have its challenges. Electric power is a competitive industry and those who are nimble, deliberative, innovative, and collaborative will excel in the years ahead. Now is the time for bold leadership tempered with seasoned knowledge and the ability, above all, to bring people together. Darren’s deep commitment to BED, to our City, and to each employee’s contribution to the greater good will serve all of us well as he leads BED for the years to come.”
“Darren Springer is an outstanding choice to lead the Burlington Electric Department,” said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. “It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to work with Darren at this exciting time of transformation and innovation in all things energy to benefit customers. The planet needs energy leaders like Darren Springer.”
“Having worked with Darren Springer for years, I know that he has a great skill for understanding the complexities, legally and technically, of our evolving clean energy economy,” said Senator Chris Bray, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. “Perhaps even more importantly, he has the ability to take that knowledge and find opportunities to develop innovative programs that deliver both economic and environmental benefits to customers. The Mayor has chosen well.”
For more information, please see the attached resume and photo of Darren Springer. Photo taken this morning at the press conference held at BED, by Adam Rabin of BED.