Energy Department appoints new BPA Administrator

Elliot Mainzer has been acting Administrator since July

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Elliot Mainzer has been appointed administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, effective Monday, the U.S. Energy Department announced on Monday.

Mainzer was appointed as the agency's acting deputy administrator in February and became acting administrator in July. That's when then-BPA Administrator Bill Drummond and Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker were put on administrative leave amid an investigation into discriminatory hiring practices at the agency. In October, the Department of Energy's inspector general issued a report that concluded that BPA consistently manipulated applicant rankings between 2010 and 2012 in ways that discriminated against veterans and other applicants, and that it did not initiate corrective actions to fix the problems once it was made aware of them.

BPA markets hydropower generated from the federal dams on the Columbia River system. It also owns and operates most of the region's power grid that transmits energy to the Northwest and other regions.

Mainzer has been with BPA since 2002 and has held a variety of other management positions within BPA's power, transmission and corporate sections. He has worked in the energy industry for more than 16 years, the Energy Department said in a news release.

The agency is based in Portland and has about 1,000 employees in Clark County, mostly at its Ross Complex transmission facility north of Vancouver.

"The Bonneville Power Administration is vitally important to serving the energy needs of the Pacific Northwest and contributes greatly to the Energy Department's mission. Elliot Mainzer has the proven experience to lead BPA during this important time and I look forward to working with him to serve BPA's customers, constituents and employees in the months and years to come," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., praised the appointment. "Now, more than ever, BPA needs strong leadership, and I'm pleased that Elliot Mainzer has been promoted to serve as administrator of this critical agency," she said.

Mainzer received an undergraduate degree in geography from the University of California — Berkeley and master's degrees in business and environmental studies from Yale University. He lives in Portland.

Decker resigned from BPA effective Jan. 3 and will take a job in March with the Colorado-based Mid-West Electric Consumers Association, said BPA spokesman Doug Johnson.