Powering Strong Communities

Public Power Leaders: Jackie Crowley

Jackie Crowley next to a sign for Middleborough Gas and ElectricA Q&A with Jacqueline (Jackie) Crowley, who has been the general manager for the Middleborough Gas & Electric Department in Massachusetts since 2012. She began working in the energy industry in 1987 at natural gas marketer Citizens Gas Supply before moving to Algonquin Gas Transmission and Brooklyn Union Gas to work on supply and pipeline asset optimization. In the late 1990s, Crowley took a senior origination position at Sempra Energy Trading, where she worked with MGED on its natural gas and power supply portfolios. She joined MGED in 2006 as the energy supply manager, where she ledleading advocacy and decarbonization integration initiatives. She serves as a member of the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council and the Northeast Public Power Association’s Advocacy and Regulatory Committee. Crowley received NEPPA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2023 and NEPPA’s Person of the Year Award in 2019. A graduate of Wellesley College, she holds degrees in anthropology and archaeology. When she’s not haranguing corporate, ISO, federal, and state officials to advocate for municipal customer needs for reliable energy supply and reasonable costs, Crowley enjoys travel, literature, and gardening.

How did you come to work in public power?

After about 20 years in natural gas marketing, pipeline supply, and local distribution company portfolio optimization, I was working at Sempra Energy Trading facilitating natural gas and electric origination, and Middleborough Gas & Electric Department (MGED) was my customer.  I worked closely with the general manager and the gas division staff on a full requirements agreement.  When I relocated to Cape Cod to raise my daughter near family, Jim Collins, MGED’s GM at the time, reached out to see if I was ready to leave the investor-owned utility world and embrace public service.

What key lessons have you learned from working in this sector?

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in public service and in focusing on the customer –— their needs, cost impacts, and particularly on clearer communication of the challenges of our business and how it will impact the community.  A high percentage of our MGED workers live in the communities we serve, and those deep connections to their neighbors and family help all staff to appreciate what is at stake every day for reliability, safety, utility bills, and our stewardship of the public power and gas systems.

Is there an accomplishment you are most proud of from your time in public power?

MGED’s board of light commissioners and staff embraced aggressive decarbonization goals early on, and we’ve supported the development of local commercial and residential solar, and additions of New England solar, wind, nuclear, and hydropower while maintaining reliability and reasonable rates for an extended period. I’m proud to have initiated the establishment of a human resources group at MGED, to meet the changing needs of staff members. And we’ve also facilitated tuition reimbursement programs for multiple staff members to obtain MBAs, to help us weather the retirements of long-term, highly skilled staff amid escalating compliance and reporting demands.

What challenges should public power’s future leaders be prepared to face?

Constant distractions! There are so many conflicting issues that we face every day –— it’s a gift to have a clear mandate to think first about the current and future needs of the customers we serve. If we keep these in mind in our operations and advocacy work, the results will have measurable benefits to share with customers and to support job satisfaction among our staff members.