Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville, who rose to prominence leading multiple agencies under former Gov. Jim Douglas, will leave his utility post to run Mayor Miro Weinberger’s Community and Economic Development Office.
A Burlington native, Lunderville will initially head the city development office on an acting basis, beginning Saturday. He then will become the interim director on July 16 and continue through the end of the year.
Lunderville said he does not plan to seek the position on a permanent basis.
When asked what he intends to do once his term ends, he said: “I have no plans after that.”
Katie Vane, Weinberger’s communications director, explained the differences between the acting and interim roles at CEDO.
“The distinction is … the mayor can appoint an acting director on a short-term basis without needing to go to the council for approval,” she said. The interim position will require the City Council’s approval.
Weinberger has asked the council to approve Lunderville’s interim appointment at the council’s June 4 meeting. His tenure at BED ends July 15.
Lunderville started working at BED July 2014 — first as the interim general manager of the $60 million department of the city of Burlington. That year, Burlington was recognized as the first U.S. city to procure 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.
VTDigger is underwritten by:
“I didn’t have an intention to stay … but I fell in love with this place,” he said of BED. Lunderville attributed his affection to BED’s more than 100 “deeply committed” employees, whom he described as individuals embarked upon “an incredible mission” in a great city.
In his letter to the City Council, Weinberger said that since his 2014 appointment Lunderville had reorganized BED to reduce staff by 10 percent and labor costs by $1 million — without employee layoffs. In large part as a result of these and similar efficiencies, the mayor said, BED will wrap up fiscal 2019 with a decade-long record of no rate increases.
Lunderville has also been a key player in the city’s ongoing effort to achieve “net zero,” by releasing no carbon emissions in total — from electricity, transportation, heating and other sources.
“We’ve been making stellar progress … in the last couple of years,” Lunderville said in an interview. “Fifteen or more years ago, somebody said Burlington Electric should be 100 percent renewably sourced, and people said, ‘That’s a big goal.’”
“We like big goals,” he said.
Weinberger said he will be conducting nationwide searches for both the top posts at both the electric department and development office.
At CEDO, Lunderville will replace current director Noelle Mackay, who leaves Friday to begin work as chief operating officer at the Montpelier clean-energy nonprofit, Regulatory Assistance Project. Mackay was appointed in 2016.
Don't miss a thing. Sign up here to get VTDigger's weekly email on the energy industry and the environment.