Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced the appointment of Neale Lunderville as the interim General Manager of the Burlington Electric Department during a news conference at BED. Most recently, Lunderville served as chief executive officer of NG Advantage, an energy company he co-founded in 2012 that delivers compressed natural gas to industrial users. Lunderville also served as Secretary of Administration and Secretary of Transportation for Governor Jim Douglas, and as the Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Officer for Governor Peter Shumlin. Weinberger has asked the City Council to approve the appointment at its July 14, 2014 meeting.
“Neale has distinguished himself as a proven leader and manager in the public sector at the highest levels of state government leading large, complex organizations and efforts in his past roles serving both Governor Shumlin and Governor Douglas,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I expect Neale to play a pivotal transitional role in helping prepare BED and the next permanent GM to build on the Department’s record of success.”
Lunderville is a native Vermonter who was born in Burlington. Lunderville’s contributions to Vermont communities extend beyond his professional work to service on various boards and charitable organizations, including Preservation Trust of Vermont, Champlain College, and the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
“It is an honor to be asked by Mayor Weinberger to lead such a vibrant, forward-thinking organization like Burlington Electric,” said Lunderville. “It’s exciting to be part of building on BED’s successes to foster healthy communities with energy efficiency and renewable power, while boosting the City’s economy with reliable, competitively priced electricity.”
City Councilor Karen Paul, a member of the BED GM search committee and former Chair of the Electric Commission, joined the Mayor and Lunderville for the announcement and stated: “As a Burlingtonian who has been long-engaged in the management of BED both as a past commissioner and as a current City Councilor, I am thrilled that the Mayor has tapped a proven leader of Neale’s caliber to guide BED through this important phase in its evolution and to prepare the Department for the arrival of our next permanent GM.”
Weinberger also announced that he had named Tom Buckley, BED’s Manager of Customer and Energy Services, to be the acting GM effective immediately and until the time when the City Council confirms the Mayor’s interim GM appointment of Lunderville.
“I appreciate Tom’s willingness to serve briefly as acting GM,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I’m confident that his years of experience and deep knowledge of the workings of the Department will ensure smooth operations until our interim GM begins work.”
“I’d like to thank Mayor Weinberger for the trust he has placed in me to manage BED during this brief period of transition,” said Buckley.
To: City Councilors
From: Mayor Miro Weinberger
Date: July 1, 2014
Re: Appointment of Interim General Manager at Burlington Electric Department
I respectfully submit for your consideration and approval Neale Lunderville as interim General Manager (GM) of the Burlington Electric Department (BED) for the next six to nine months, until no later than April 15, 2015. I am requesting City Council approval of this appointment at your July 14, 2014 meeting.
Extensive search for permanent GM
Since early this year, searching for the next permanent GM for BED has been a major focus of my Administration. The thorough search process for BED’s next GM included:
- Four separate BED team meetings – with line workers, office staff, senior managers, and McNeil staff – where I solicited input regarding the GM position and the future needs of the Department from as many BED employees as possible.
- Advertising nationally for the position, including targeting diverse communities and supplemental recruitment efforts by my office.
- Review of resumes and initial interviews of both in-state and out-of-state candidates by a seven-person search committee led by my Chief of Staff Mike Kanarick, and including:
- Charlotte Ancel, Energy Attorney, Sheehey Furlong & Behm;
- Chris Dutton, former CEO of both Green Mountain Power (GMP) and Vermont Electric Power Company;
- Susan Leonard, Director of Human Resources;
- Spencer Newman, Electric Commission Chair;
- Karen Paul, City Councilor and former Electric Commission Chair; and
- Mark Stephenson, Electric Commission Member and former Electric Commission Chair.
- My interviews, with Mike Kanarick’s assistance, of all finalist candidates presented to me for consideration by the search committee.
This extensive effort has greatly informed my understanding of Burlington’s energy future and impressed upon me the importance of finding the right person to lead the Department in the uncertain and exciting years ahead. At this point, however, despite this considerable effort, I do not feel we are ready to end the search for that person.
Further, in recent weeks, as I have been approaching this conclusion, it became clear that there is an individual who has the skills and background to provide strong leadership to BED, who has excelled at a number of short-term, senior governmental assignments, and is ready to serve our City. Thus, I have concluded that our best path forward is to temporarily suspend the City’s search for a permanent GM and to seek your approval of Neale Lunderville as interim GM.
In reaching my decision to go the interim route, I consulted with the search committee, Electric Commission members, other individuals intimately familiar with the Department’s workings, City Councilors, and utility experts around Vermont, and I have found broad support and excitement for Neale’s appointment.
Goals of interim GM appointment
Neale’s primary assignment during the months ahead will be to provide steady leadership to a Department that provides critical services to Burlington every day. As I detail below, Neale has the right management experience, financial skills, governmental and industry background, and communication skills to effectively perform this essential work.
My intent is not for BED simply to tread water for six to nine months. Neale also will be tasked with overseeing a strategic review of all elements of BED’s operations and to provide recommendations on future steps the next permanent GM should take to build on BED’s record of success. In his numerous past high-level assignments, Neale has shown himself to be innovative, tough-minded, and well-suited for this important review.
Track record as a dynamic, effective leader and manager
Neale has distinguished himself as a proven leader and manager in the public sector at the highest levels of state government leading large, complex organizations and efforts in his past roles as Secretary of Administration and Secretary of the Agency of Transportation (VTrans) for Governor Jim Douglas, and as the Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Officer for Governor Peter Shumlin.
Neale’s effective leadership stems from qualities that the BED GM needs and that will transfer to an organization like BED:
- Strong finance and management skills – Neale has effectively managed large, complex budgets in difficult fiscal conditions, including both the State of Vermont budget and the VTrans budget. In addition, Neale has important private sector financial experience, having served as the founder and CEO of NG Advantage – a new energy company that delivers compressed natural gas to industrial users with the dual goals of reduced environmental impact and customer savings – where he signed $70 million in contracts within 18 months of the company’s launch. Also, Neale has experience managing construction budgets and their associated timelines.
- Proven ability to partner with key agencies – Effective local governance today requires extensive collaboration with other departments, agencies, and organizations. Neale has worked successfully with many of the groups central to BED’s success, including: Vermont Department of Public Service, VTrans, various City of Burlington departments, neighboring municipalities, the State Legislature and Executive Branch, our Congressional Delegation, federal government agencies, and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.
- Strong communication skills – The public and the Electric Commission look to BED to effectively communicate with ratepayers and be responsive to their needs. Neale is an excellent communicator and advocate, experienced at articulating policy proposals and delivering presentations to a wide array of audiences, as well as sustaining regular and effective communications with a large number of organizational stakeholders.
Energy industry experience
Neale has direct relevant experience in the energy industry that will serve him well at BED:
- NG Advantage – Neale’s work at NG Advantage gave him a unique perspective on the highly competitive energy marketplace and innovations that are shaping the future of the energy market in the United States.
- Green Mountain Power – Neale served in a senior leadership role at GMP, the state’s largest utility. During his time at GMP, Neale worked with the rollout of smart grid technology, had extensive dealings with the Department of Public Service, and played a prominent role in GMP’s public affairs efforts.
Vermont approach to challenges
Neale has demonstrated success in working with partners with diverse viewpoints to achieve results that were in the best interest of Vermonters. He has been appointed to senior level positions by both Republican and Democratic administrations and has earned a reputation as someone who focuses on the issues and is able to bring people together to get things done. Neale’s work to make our Vermont communities stronger extends beyond his professional work to service on various boards and charitable organizations, including Preservation Trust of Vermont, Champlain College, and the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
Neale, a native Vermonter who was born in Burlington, currently lives in South Burlington. Further details of Neale’s extensive career can be found in his attached resume. With your confirmation, Neale will be compensated at an annual salary of $127,400, a level equal to Step 1 on the BED GM pay scale.
We plan to repost the BED GM position later this calendar year and engage in a similar process with our current search committee in an effort to find and appoint our next permanent GM sometime in early calendar year 2015. Although not an applicant in this current search process, Neale is welcome to apply for the permanent position later this year.
Thank you for your consideration of Neale Lunderville as interim General Manager of the Burlington Electric Department for the next six to nine months.