Wellesley searching for new Municipal Light Plant director

Wellesley Municipal Light Plant Director Don Newell is set to retire on Jan. 9, and the MLP Board is hatching a plan to find his successor.

The Board goes into executive session on Nov. 8 to discuss the process of reviewing applicants and to review applicants received.

The Board to this point has been figuring out how to go about keeping the lights on, so to speak, until Newell heads out and then after he does. An assistant director was hired recently, but the thinking is that he needs to learn the job and organization before getting thrust into a director’s role.

Don Newell_WMLP
MLP Director Don Newell

A job listing has been posted, with the job’s criteria including overall responsibility “for the management and oversight of the Town’s electrical utility.” No salary is listed in the job description. Newell pulled in about $172K, per the FY22 Annual Town Report, but he also has been with the MLP since 1999 minus a brief hiatus. He took on the director’s job in 2019.

Consideration was given to hiring a retired MLP director with operating experience to take the reins on an interim basis for 6-9 months, going with a consultancy (probably pricey) that could also serve as interim director after initial work, or possibly using Department of Public Works Director David Cohen as a “transition resource.” It was mentioned that Newell would be available to consult a couple days a week after retirement.

The Board at its Oct. 25 meeting (see Wellesley Media recording) discussed its options, with the third one recommended. But the Board wasn’t quite ready to take a vote.

The Board also reviewed the make-up of a search committee that includes MLP Board members, MLP leadership, a resident, and a Select Board member.

A preliminary discussion on all of these matters took place at the Oct. 12 MLP Board meeting (see Wellesley Media recording).

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