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SALT LAKE CITY — Laura Nelson, Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy adviser and director of his Office of Energy Development, retired effective Thursday after more than 10 years of service in Utah state government.
“Dr. Nelson is truly an unparalleled leader. Her tireless dedication has proven critical in ensuring Utah’s energy and minerals economy continues to thrive in the face of a rapidly evolving landscape,” Herbert said.
“I have greatly appreciated her industry expertise and ability to bring diverse stakeholders together to deliver wise policy, responsible development and innovative solutions that can advance our economic and environmental success today and for generations to come.”
Nelson served as energy adviser to former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., and was technical adviser for the Utah Division of Public Utilities.
Under her tenure with Herbert, Nelson elevated Utah and the Office of Energy Development with her leadership on several boards and committees. She has served as vice chairwoman and board member of the National Association of State Energy Officials, chairwoman of the Utah Energy Infrastructure board, chairwoman to the Western Interstate Energy Board, co-chairwoman of the NARUC-NASEO Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning, and as a board member of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.
Her technical expertise was critical for the formation of Utah’s 10 Year Strategic Energy Plan and Utah’s Energy Action Plan to 2020. She helped advance a first-of-its-kind net-metering agreement for the solar industry, expanding alternative and Tier 3 fuels to improve connectivity and Utah’s air quality, launched the nation’s leading energy and minerals education platform and forged regional, national and international energy agreements.
“It has been my privilege to work alongside Gov. Herbert and help to realize the vision for powering an energy future for everyone through the production of affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean opportunities,” Nelson said. “With outstanding state leadership through his administration and at the Legislature, along with a talented technical team, we have been able to grow the Governor’s Office of Energy Development into a premier policy model that is being mirrored by a dozen states nationwide today.”
Rob Simmons, deputy director of the Office of Energy Development, will serve as interim energy adviser and executive director effective Friday.
Simmons comes to the position with extensive energy policy, development and technology experience, previously serving as associate director of the Energy Innovation Program of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative; and vice president of the Oquirrh Institute, which was founded by former Gov. Mike Leavitt.