Deal named CEO of Springs Utilities

Travas Deal named over long-time Utilities executive Lisa Barbados
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Travas Deal

Travas Deal was named today, Feb. 22, as CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities, with the Utilities Board voting 8-1 to pass over long-serving executive Lisa Barbato to choose Deal, who came to Utilities in 2017.

Deal had been the acting CEO and chief operations officer after the departure last November of Aram Benyamin for a job with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, which came with a lower salary than he made here.

Deal has been at the forefront of Utilities’ controversial fiber project that involved a contract whose cost grew 300-fold in a short time.

Deal’s salary will be the same as Benyamin’s — $480,000 annually.

It’s worth noting that Springs Utilities has never been led by a female CEO. Deal’s predecessors included Benyamin, Jerry Forte and Phil Tollefson.

The board, comprised of City Council, voted 8-1 to appoint Deal, with Bill Murray voting against him. The vote was unanimous to approve his contract, which doesn’t deviate from Benyamin’s employment agreement.

Deal was appointed acting CEO for Colorado Springs Utilities by the Utilities Board on Dec. 1, 2022. He was named COO in April 2020. He is responsible for ensuring safe and reliable operations of the utility’s four services — electric, natural gas, water and wastewater.

He joined Colorado Springs Utilities in 2017 as field services manager. In 2018 he transitioned to the Energy Services Division, serving in a district manager role, then two general manager positions, leading significant process improvements for the utility, according to a Utilities-issued news release.

Deal served as a U.S. Marine for a decade before a successful career in transportation — first in rail-based freight transportation and later at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana.

He joined Duke Energy in 2008, working at Gibson Generating Station, the largest coal generating plant in the United States at 3,250 megawatts. During his tenure at Duke, he held various management roles in operations and maintenance, including operations excellence manager.

Board member Tom Strand called the decision “difficult” and labeled both finalists as “the cream of the crop” of 175 applicants from across the nation.

“I want to assure the ratepayers, the folks of Colorado Springs Utilities that the process we went through to select our next CEO was extensive, thorough, and it was good,” board member Dave Donelson said. “CSU will be in good hands.”

Board Chair Wayne Williams called Barbato and Deal “two very good individuals” who “rose to the top.”

“I have been incredibly impressed the way you two have worked together in the last three months,” Williams said. “I anticipate and expect that great teamwork that has been part of Utilities the last few months will continue going forward.”

Board member Stephannie Fortune called Barbato “a rare gem” that she said she hopes “takes on more leadership and really flourishes.”

But she added, “Travas will be a strong leader and he is the person for the job right now.”

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