by Ted Sickinger
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has reappointed Steve Wright as the administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that markets power from 31 hydroelectric dams and a nuclear plant in the northwest.
Wright, 52, is the second longest-serving administrator of the agency, having served under three separate presidents. He was originally appointed as acting administrator of the agency in November 2000 on the departure of Judi Johansen, and was formally appointed in January 2002. Though a Democrat, he was kept on in the job by President George Bush.
Wright has led the agency through tumultuous times, including the 2001 energy crisis and the long process of determining how the agency would divvy up the cheap hydropower it markets for the next 20 years. That process resulted in new long-term contracts last year with the 135 publicly owned utilities who buy BPA power.
BPA, and Wright by extension, also have been criticized for being slow to embrace renewable energy, and by its customers for subsidizing aluminum companies with low-cost power sales. Last year, speculation was rife that the Obama Administration would make a change in the top job at the agency, which pays Wright a salary of $179,700.
Chu said in a statement Thursday that Wright has proven an adept leader, accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts in the Northwest to meet regional and national objectives.
" I am very excited that he has picked up the charge to do that, and he has my full confidence," Chu said.
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