Mike Palmer works with BPA’s public utility customers to ensure their energy efficiency projects meet our program requirements.


"The work I do directly helps the communities in BPA’s service territory. On a personal level, my colleagues are truly amazing, and I feel incredibly lucky to have such a great team. I’ve had other jobs outside BPA and it’s really not like this everywhere – the people here are motivated and passionate. Working with experts inspires me to do my best every day."

Mike Palmer, Energy Efficiency project reviewer

How would you explain your job to your neighbor, so they not only understand what you do but what BPA does and its role in our region?
I tell my neighbors I review energy efficiency projects for BPA’s utilities around the Northwest to ensure their energy efficiency projects meet our program requirements. When they ask if it’s a long commute out to the dam, I mention that BPA’s hydropower actually coming from dozens of dams and provides renewable hydropower to over 140 utilities in the Northwest.

How does your work support BPA’s mission and strategy?
Part of BPA’s mission is to ensure an efficient and economical power supply. Energy efficiency projects reduce energy consumption, which helps BPA keep rates low. In turn, BPA’s preference utility customers are able to pass along those savings to their end-use customers to keep power costs low for people and business in their communities. I work with these customers ensuring that their energy efficiency projects meet our program requirements before authorizing payment to reimbursing the project’s cost.

A new or technical aspect of my job that I enjoy is:
I’m a big Microsoft Excel nerd, and luckily for me, I get to use it frequently in my everyday work. I love learning new tricks and ways to solve problems. The internet is an amazing resource for Excel, and anything I can think of, someone has tried before and documented online. If anyone reading knows a nifty Excel trick, please let me know!

I like working at BPA because:
The work I do at BPA directly helps the communities and people in BPA’s service territory. On a personal level, everyone I work with is truly amazing, and I feel incredibly lucky to have such a great team. I’ve had other jobs outside BPA, and it’s really not like this everywhere – the people here are motivated and passionate; working with true experts inspires me to do my best every day.

Safety is a core value at BPA. How do you incorporate safe behavior (See, Say, Do) into your practices and environment?
I’m at my desk most of the time, but when I’m at Portland headquarters, I try to make a habit out of going for lunch walks to prevent being stationary all day. There’s a lot of activity outside the office, so when I go out, I make sure to keep headphones off and my phone in my pocket to not get caught off guard by a bus, the MAX train or other pedestrians.

My most memorable story while working at BPA is:
Road trips! I always love a good road trip, it’s a great opportunity to get to know co-workers better, and meet our utility customers face to face.

Tell us about your notable accomplishments, past jobs, awards, published work, etc.
My biggest accomplishment at BPA was working on a team to replace our old reporting system, Interim System 2.0 with BPA’s Energy Efficiency Tracking System, also known as BEETS. Our reporting system is a critical infrastructure system, which allows utilities to report their efficiency projects to BPA for reimbursement. It was a decade-long effort that involved just about everyone in our organization and more meetings than I’d like to remember. The hard work paid off: the system launched last fall and has been going strong.

What leadership behaviors are most important to you, as a leader and as a worker? 
I was a manager once in my pre-BPA career, and it completely changed my mind on what it means to be a good leader. My biggest takeaway was that you can’t try to fit everyone in a box. Value people is the leadership behavior that’s the most important to me. Everyone is different. Something that’s not important at all to a manager might be extremely important to an employee and vice versa. A good leader understands how each member of the team is unique and recognizes everyone as an individual.

What respect and dignity tip is most important to you? How do you demonstrate respect and dignity?
My favorite is assume positive intent. I review a lot of projects and occasionally encounter mistakes. It’s counterproductive to think the person on the other end is doing something wrong on purpose. We work in a complex industry with a lot of moving parts. I start with the view that everyone is trying their hardest to do things the right way, so I think, how can we work together to make that happen?

My favorite thing about working and living in the Northwest is:
Portland summers are honestly pretty amazing. I love being outside as much as possible, going to the coast, hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and up at Mount Hood, and checking out new parks and playgrounds around the city. No comment on Portland winters.

Two things I can’t live without are:
Family time and alone time. They’re complete opposites but both vital to my well-being.

I am inspired by (people or places):
Teachers, without a doubt, especially those that work with young kids. I only have two kids, and that’s probably more than I should be allowed to handle. Teachers can keep track of a whole classroom full of kids? Five days a week? Respect!

Where did you go to school? What did you study? What attracted you to that/those subject(s)?
Boise State University and University of Oregon. I studied Anthropology, Business and Japanese and spent one year abroad in Tokyo. I was attracted to those subjects since they sounded like fun or sounded practical. Somehow, that combination of experience led me to energy efficiency. 

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