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Sargent to lead Austin Energy

Friday, May 20, 2016 by Jo Clifton

City Manager Marc Ott announced Thursday that he has hired Jacqueline Sargent, the general manager and CEO of the Platte River Power Authority in Fort Collins, Colorado, as general manager of Austin Energy.

Sargent, 55, has nearly 30 years of experience in the electrical utility industry, including two years overseeing power supply and market operations for Austin Energy — from 2010 to 2012. In her current job, she is the chief executive over an agency that serves four cities: Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado.

Jackie_portrait-photo_1 (2)

When the Austin Monitor asked her about being the first woman to lead the utility, Sargent said, “I haven’t thought about being (the first woman), but I am elated to be able to serve in this capacity. The team is fantastic; the progressive nature of the utility is exciting. The technology hub that you have in Austin offers and affords some opportunities to take the utility forward and make advancements, and I think it is an exciting time.”

In her new position, Sargent will make $360,000 a year as well as receive the other usual city benefits. She will take over the reins of the utility on August 15, more than eight months after the departure of former Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis, who left Austin to become CEO at Seattle City Light.

Sargent said she was not sufficiently familiar with Austin Energy’s generation plan to comment on it but noted, “One of the things I’ve done is resource planning, so I will be able to look at that with a critical eye, and will probably want to look at that and re-evaluate it with my team.”

Karen Hadden, chair of the Electric Utility Commission, was one of a group of environmental and business representatives who interviewed the four finalists for general manager and offered their assessments to Ott and City Council.

Upon learning about Sargent’s appointment, Hadden said, “We interviewed Jackie in the citizens group. She demonstrated that she has a strong knowledge of various forms of electrical generation, in particular renewable energy, and is aware that renewable energy can actually reduce utility bills. She showed innovative thinking, and I hope she will be a dynamic leader for Austin Energy.”

Trey Salinas of the business group Coalition for Clean, Affordable, Reliable Energy (CCARE) told the Monitor, “We congratulate Ms. Sargent on her appointment as the next general manager of Austin Energy, and we look forward to working with her. As the first female general manager of Austin Energy, it is truly a historic day for Austin.”

Sargent holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and a Master of Science in technology management from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She grew up in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. In addition to her work in her current position and at Austin Energy, Sargent has served in various capacities, including as vice president of power supply and renewables integration for the Black Hills Corporation in South Dakota.

Photo courtesy of the city of Austin

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