The City of Austin, Texas AUSTIN ENERGY DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER & CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
PROFILE & REQUIREMENTS
The City of Austin seeks applicants for the Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer opening with Austin Energy, a publicly owned electric utility. The next Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer of Austin Energy is expected to join a team of high performing executives and provide leadership and strategic direction for the reliable operation and optimization of Austin Energy’s assets. The Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer’s overall responsibilities include leadership of 900 employees and the electric generation, transmission, distribution, energy market operations, information technology, energy resources, strategic planning, and emerging technology functions.
The Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer reports to Austin Energy’s General Manager and will assist the General Manager to make prudent business decisions that reward both economic and environmental interests and to represent a community that is highly engaged in electric utility affairs. The team seeks to continue Austin Energy’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading utilities. transforming the industry with a focus on competitive rates, reliable electric service, energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grid technology, distributed generation, climate change policy, and customer service. While strategic vision for the future of the industry is highly valued at Austin Energy, those with proven and practical experience and credibility in the realm of utility operations and asset management will likely have an advantage over others. PRIMARY CHALLENGES FACING AUSTIN ENERGY:
Maintaining cost competitiveness and financial resiliency
Improving Austin Energy’s customer experience and brand
Workforce development, succession planning, recruitment and retention in a civil service environment
Continuing to advance innovation and technology investment related to the customer experience, internal efficiencies, and product offerings that support the evolution of reliable service and environmental responsibility
Maintaining and creating dynamic pricing structures
Improving the organization’s ability to inform and properly influence state and federal legislative entities and regulators in alignment with the Austin community’s stakeholder desires
Addressing generation resource additions and load growth while balancing energy and load growth
Leading the retirement of obsolete generating units
The Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer is expected to operate with a high level of autonomy and should offer emotional intelligence, innovative tendencies, and the security and maturity to both challenge and be challenged by a team of intelligent and innovative executives. Candidates should offer an engaging, open-door, team-oriented, and empowering leadership and management style with exemplary communication skills. The next Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer will ideally offer the passion and capability to connect with employees at every level of the organizational chart and commit substantive time to engaging with personnel in the field. Experience leading personnel in both union and non-union environments is preferred. Candidates must also offer proven and quantifiable success leading a workforce with safety as a top priority, and proven success in workforce development and succession planning.
Recognition and acceptance of the high level of scrutiny one will face as a leader in a highly transparent and engaged community is essential. It is equally important that the Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer has the ability to communicate complicated and complex concepts to residents and customers as well as highly trained technicians.
Austin Energy’s Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer must recognize, respect, and philosophically align with the public power utility model and the concept of customers as owners. While candidates from other utility segments are encouraged to apply, applicants must understand the value of Austin Energy to the communities served and bring an appreciation for the democratic process, its pace, and its effect on leadership decisions. An appetite to take risks beyond the traditional municipal utility mindset balanced with respect and appreciation for the existing organization and a diplomatic approach to leading future evolution is desired from applicants.
The Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer must offer the capability to continue the cultural evolution of the organization and assist in championing the operations team’s integration with divisions of the utility and City to support the mission, vision, and strategy of Austin Energy. They will maintain a crucial role as a representative of a utility that is thoroughly intertwined in its operations with those of the City of Austin. The Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer will need to foster a respectful and productive work environment across City and utility lines and leverage those relationships to improve performance and efficiencies to the ultimate benefit of Austin’s populace.
Ideal candidates will offer substantive experience with modern technological advances related to advanced grid, renewable portfolios, and modern generating resources. Austin Energy and its city stakeholders seek to develop an intelligent distribution grid and the evolution of information and operational technologies that improve the customer experience and both enhance reliability and embolden the grid’s capability to be agile and accept customer generation technologies.
General business and political savvy, leadership of a culture of continuous improvement and accountability, and experience negotiating crucial utility contracts are absolute requirements. As Austin Energy operates within the ERCOT market, candidates with experience managing key utility assets within an RTO/ISO or deregulated electric market are desired. Experience with nuclear generating facilities, decommissioning of generating facilities, leadership during incident command processes, and partnering with federal and state level government in the grant funding process are also desired experiences.
Ideal candidates will display a proven track record of success interacting with regulatory and legislative bodies at all levels and a willingness to engage in such leadership with peer utility leaders at the state and national levels.
Experience and a track record of success working with large key accounts and influential developers in a community and a broad understanding of their impact on a utility and city is desired.
Austin Energy promotes a strong environment of proactive compliance behavior, and candidates should display a consistent track record of leading organizations to top quartile compliance performance.
Ideal candidates will offer a record of consistent career advancement with quantifiable successes that include executive management of more than one key function within a vertically integrated utility operation. Breadth of career exposure to the primary disciplines of power production, power delivery, and energy and market operations is preferred.
Austin is a very diverse community with goals to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in its city and each of the City’s departments. Austin Energy offers a history promoting a culture of diversity and anticipates that the Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer will be one of many key leaders furthering these goals in the future. Candidates should display a passion for such initiatives and a history of elevating such initiatives with tangible results. Candidates should have the ability to use an equity lens and framework to create inclusive, diverse, and safe workplaces and community programs.
Like all utilities, Austin Energy is challenged to adapt to a new workplace environment and is accepting and further developing a less traditional mindset toward the workplace of the future. Candidates should offer an open and creative mind to the workplace of the future and offer related nimble management behavior while also displaying a track record of creating an accountable culture and workforce in their past employment.
The minimum qualifications required for the Austin Energy Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer:
Education: Graduation with a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major coursework in Engineering or a related field,
Experience: Eight (8) years of progressively increasing responsibilities relevant to the electric utility industry, including managing large-scale infrastructure assets in a related field or industry requiring uninterruptible business operations, including six (6) years of experience in managerial or executive capacity.
This vibrant and dynamic city tops numerous lists for business, entertainment, and quality of life. One of the country’s most popular, high-profile “green” and culturally dynamic cities, Austin was selected as the “Best City for the Next Decade” (Kiplinger, 2010), the “Top Creative Center” in the US (Entrepreneur.com, 2010), #1 on the Best Place to Live in the U.S. and #4 on the Best Places to Retire (U.S. News & World Report, 2019), and ranked in the top ten on Forbes list of America’s Best Employers for 2017.
Austin is a beacon of sustainability, social equity, and economic opportunity; where diversity and creativity are celebrated, where community needs and values are recognized, where leadership comes from its community members, and where the necessities of life are affordable and accessible to all.
Austin continues to lead the country with its vision of being the “Most livable city in the country,” emerging as a player on the international scene with such events as the Austin Marathon, Rodeo Austin, Austin Urban Music Festival, Blues on the Green, Austin Pride Festival, Austin Trail of Lights, SXSW, Austin City Limits, and Formula 1, and being home to companies such as Apple, Samsung, Dell, Oracle, IBM, and Ascension Seton Health. From the home of state government and institutions of higher education to the “Live Music Capital of the World” and its growth as a film center, Austin has gained worldwide attention as a hub for education, business, health, and sustainability. From founding through the year 2000, Austin’s population roughly doubled every 20 years.
The City offers a wide range of events, from music concerts, food festivals, and sports competitions to museum displays, exhibits, and family fun. Austin is also home to a wonderful ballet, world-class museums, one-of-a-kind shopping, and beautiful outdoor spaces. You can just as easily spend your morning paddling the lake as you can strolling through a celebrated history museum.
Located at the edge of the Texas Hill Country -- rolling terrain of limestone bluffs, springs, rivers, and lakes -- Austin’s climate is ideal for year-round jogging, cycling, hiking on the City’s many trails or swimming at Barton Springs or one of the area’s many other swimming holes. There are several excellent golf courses in the area, as well as opportunities for rowing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, rock climbing, disc golf, mountain biking, fishing, and more. Austin has something for everyone.
AUSTIN CITY GOVERNMENT
The City of Austin is a progressive, full-service municipal organization operating under the Council-Manager form of government. Austin’s mayor is elected from the city at large, and ten council members are elected from single-member districts. Terms of the mayor and council members are four years, and terms are staggered so that a general election is held every two years, with half the council being elected at each election. Term limits for the mayor and council members provide for two consecutive four-year terms. The City Council is responsible for the appointment of the City Manager, who is the Chief Administrative and Executive Officer of the City, City Clerk, City Auditor, Municipal Court Judges, and the Municipal Court Clerk.
The City Council adopted six Strategic Outcomes and Indicators in 2018 as part of its Strategic Direction 2023 to guide the City in improving quality of life and civic participation in the Austin Community over the next three to five years. The Austin Energy Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer reports to the Austin Energy General Manager who reports to the City Manager. The Austin Energy Deputy General Manager & Chief Operating Officer will be responsible for supporting department programs and initiatives as it relates to all six of the Strategic Outcomes. For more information, visit Austin Strategic Direction 2023.
Austin Energy serves a 437-square mile territory that includes those within Austin as well as portions of Travis and Williamson counties. This includes approximately 496,000 electric customer accounts with more than 13 % of the customer base outside the city limits. Austin Energy is the eighth largest publicly owned utility in the United States, with more than $4.4 billion in assets and more than $1.4 billion in annual revenue.
Austin Energy’s strong economic and demographic characteristics, competitive retail rates, diverse power supply mix, high liquidity, and history of solid operation earned the utility consistent ratings in recent years: AA- Stable with Fitch, Inc.; Aa3 Positive with Moody’s; and AA Stable with Standard & Poor’s.
The City of Austin is responsible for regulating, monitoring and approving annual budgets, retail rate changes, reliability, customer concerns, and generation resource construction, planning and operations. The State of Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) approves transmission rates and interfaces on reliability and wholesale market issues along with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Austin Energy is a municipally owned, vertically integrated power utility that is part of ERCOT. Much of the remainder of the state exists in a deregulated market in which electric customers may select from hundreds of constantly changing offerings from retail energy providers. It is essential for Austin Energy and its staff to balance community values and priorities with affordability and competitiveness to continue offering an exceptional level of service. The PUC also provides additional grid oversight.
Austin Energy’s renewable generating resources include 1,219 MW of wind farms, 644 MW of solar farms, 63 MW of customer-site distributed generation, 100 MW of biomass, and 7.8 MW of landfill methane.
Austin Energy’s owned generating assets include:
Decker Creek: 944 MW; two gas-fired steam units, four gas combustion turbines
Sand Hill: 595 MW; a natural gas combined cycle unit (2004), six natural gas fired combustion turbines
Austin Energy’s co-owned power supply resources include:
South Texas Project: two-unit nuclear plant, 400 MW share, one of the lowest operating cost nuclear plants in the nation
Fayette Power Project: three-unit coal- fired plant, 600 MW share — half of two units, PRB coal
Austin Energy also operates three on-site district cooling and energy resources providing chilled water, electricity, and steam. These growing systems presently serve 72 customers and more than 17 million square feet of space. The thermal storage components of these systems allow the utility to shift electric consumption to off-peak periods. The current systems consist of Downtown comprised of three plants with a fourth under construction, Domain with one plant and Mueller with one plant and a second under construction. The Mueller Energy Center also provides electricity and steam to Dell Children’s Hospital. A fourth system is under construction to serve the Austin Community College (ACC) Highland Campus.
The City of Austin considers Austin Energy a vital part of its program to be carbon-neutral by 2050. The utility buys all its power from the ERCOT market and sells all of its production, whether from owned traditional sources or contracted renewable resources to the ERCOT market. Customers pay the difference as part of a Power Supply Adjustment. Currently, more than 36% of the utility’s total sales of electric power — purchased from the ERCOT market — are balanced by the utility’s contracted renewable power. The Austin City Council has directed the utility to reach a 65% renewable goal by 2027, with significant new investment in solar and wind contracts.
Austin Energy’s electric service delivery division works out of four operating centers. In recent years, this division became the first ISO 9001:2015-certified delivery group in the United States. The utility’s assets include 623 miles of transmission lines with 14 transmission substations. Austin Energy operates more than 11,000 miles of distribution line and a significant underground downtown network. Austin’s 2017 System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) was about 61 minutes, and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) was about .8 outages per customer.
Austin Energy also manages the Utility Contact Center and Online Customer Care Portal for all City of Austin utilities.
The utility provides year-round electric bill discounts for up to 28,000 residential customers, streetlights, and emergency bill assistance. Its energy-efficiency and weatherization programs are among the most extensive in the nation. Furthermore, Austin Energy remains an industry leader in power reliability and works collaboratively with the high-technology industry to assure exceptional reliability and power quality.
Austin Energy is a member of the 25-member Large Public Power Council.
Salary is commensurate based on experience and the approved salary range. The benefits package includes medical, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, compensated leave, short-term disability, and retirement benefits. The City is a member of the Proportionate Retirement Program. Optional benefits include supplemental life insurance, a 457 deferred compensation plan, long-term disability plan, and a legal plan.
Information submitted for consideration may be made available to the public in compliance with the Texas Open Records Act.
To ensure consideration, candidates should apply by November 3. To apply, candidates must submit an application, a comprehensive resume, and cover letter online as instructed below. Interested candidates should apply early in the process for optimum consideration. For more information on this position, candidates may contact:
Austin Energy is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity at all levels of its workforce. The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications will be provided upon request. For assistance, please contact 512-974-3210 or Relay Texas 7-1-1.
Additional Salary Information: see Compensation & Benefits section above
About Austin Energy - City of Austin
assisted by Mycoff Fry Partners LLC, a retained, Executive Recruiter for the Utility Industries