Elliot Mainzer

President & CEO
California ISO
Elliot Mainzer has spent his professional career at the forefront of transformational changes in the Western electricity market.

A native of San Francisco, with an undergraduate degree in geography from U.C. Berkeley (1989), Elliot completed the joint graduate degree program in Business Administration and Environmental Studies at Yale University in 1998, during the early phases of electric industry restructuring. Drawn to its investments in wind and solar energy, Elliot joined Enron Corp. following graduate school. He started in the analyst and associate rotational program and went on to establish the company’s Renewable Power Desk out of its Portland, Oregon offices, collaborating with industry and government to lay the foundation for the explosive growth in renewable energy development during the past decade.

In 2002, following Enron’s collapse, Elliot returned to his roots in the public sector and joined the Bonneville Power Administration, based in Portland. BPA is a federal agency responsible for marketing and transmitting reliable, affordable and low-carbon power from the 23,000 mega-watt Federal Columbia River Power System. BPA serves as the backbone of the Northwest’s highvoltage transmission grid, reliably operating over 15,000 circuit miles of transmission lines across the four Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, and small parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also operates high-voltage transmission connections into British Columbia and California, and is an active participant in the California electricity market.

During his 18 years at BPA, Elliot held a variety of management positions, including manager of pricing and transaction analysis, trading floor manager, manager of customer service engineering, manager of transmission policy and rates, executive vice president of Corporate Strategy, and deputy administrator. In the process, he developed a comprehensive understanding of wholesale power and transmission markets, reliable system operations, and state and federal energy policies. In July 2013, Elliot was named acting administrator. In January 2014, he was named permanent administrator and CEO by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

During his seven years as administrator and CEO, Elliot successfully navigated BPA through a period of tremendous industry change and economic headwinds by improving the agency’s longterm cost competitiveness and financial resiliency, modernizing assets and system operations, and positioning BPA as a more responsive, agile business partner with plans to join the Western BIOGRAPHY Elliot Mainzer Incoming California ISO CEO and president Energy Imbalance Market in 2022. Underlying his work as administrator has been a focus on safety, management excellence, and diversity and inclusion. During his tenure, BPA achieved its strongest safety performance on record.

The reliable, efficient integration of renewable energy resources and new technologies was a central focus during Elliot’s time at BPA. In 2007, he led the development of the Northwest Wind Integration Action Plan, helping the Northwest integrate over 5,000 MW of wind energy between 2007 and 2012. He also helped transform BPA’s processes for subscribing and building new transmission lines, leading to the construction of several new high-voltage lines that established the Columbia River plateau as a prime location for large-scale wind development.

As administrator, he also helped advance non-wires transmission planning by terminating a proposed 500-kV line in the Interstate 5 corridor of Washington and Oregon in favor of a more scalable, efficient approach to managing congestion and marketing transmission capacity on that part of the BPA grid. Elliot also played a key role in the administration of BPA’s industry-leading Technology Innovation program and led the agency’s deployment of demand-side solutions for grid flexibility.

In 2011, Elliot delivered a TED talk on the future of renewable energy integration in the Northwest and the potential for an energy imbalance market to help integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into the Western grid. Along with his broader efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of coordinated system operations, he played an important role in helping the CAISO get the EIM up and running by establishing policies and practices for the use of the BPA transmission system to enable PacifiCorp and other Northwest utilities to join the market.

Since 2016, Elliot has co-chaired the Western Electric Industry Leaders Group with Steve Berberich, working to support greater Western market and policy coordination on such topics as resource adequacy, fire prevention, and carbon accounting. In recent years, he has also worked to strengthen regional partnerships and understanding of shared interests within the Columbia River Basin on the complex issues associated with salmon recovery, hydroelectricity, navigation, irrigation, and rural economic development.

Elliot deeply values his many professional relationships throughout the electricity sector at both the regional and national level. He has served as the Chair of the U.S. Entity for the Columbia River Treaty with Canada and on the boards of the Electric Power Research Institute, the Utility Wind Integration Group and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. He is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon and a graduate of the Utility Executive Course at the University of Idaho. In 1987, he spent a college semester in India through the School for International Training, stimulating a lifelong passion for international travel.

Elliot and his wife Margaret have twin sixth grade boys, who keep them very busy. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, reading and connecting with friends. He is also an amateur jazz saxophonist and dedicated student of jazz theory and history.