switch~ Speakers

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  eTown Hall Speakers have been selected!

eTown Hall Speakers, October 2015

Kevin BlakeKevin Blake is a 2015 graduate of the University of Colorado, School of Law.  He is currently a Research Director with E9 Energy Insight, where he tracks state-level energy policies in the West and advises clients on resource planning, demand-side management, distributed energy, and smart grid.  Over the last four years, he has had the opportunity to study renewable energy systems in Denmark, intern with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and co-author a White Paper with two former Colorado Commissioners addressing institutional and practical challenges that states face in implementing EPA’s CO2 rule under 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Phil CalabresePhilip Calabrese helped co-found Boom Algae during the last year of his graduate school tenure at CU Boulder where he earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry in May 2014.  He has been working full time on Boom Algae for the past 9 months and has found that building a company from the ground up requires him to wear many “hats”.  He works on developing the company’s technology and IP, business strategy, financial model, and manages the company’s lab in north Boulder.  Some of his favorite hobbies include mountain biking, rock climbing, playing bass guitar and making cast iron skillet pizzas.

Chris FryChris Fry is the founder of Akiba Energy Solutions – a boutique, developing markets clean energy consulting firm – and is passionate about achieving global energy access through renewable energy and ethical business.  He built three start-up teams in social and clean energy operating in sub-Saharan Africa.  With Denver-based Elephant Energy, he successfully conducted a Namibia-wide rollout of a “pay-as-you-go” solar pico-generator product while developing a successful business model and durable supply chain.  Chris is now focused on deployment, integration, and value-chain establishment of distributed energy.  Chris holds an MBA from Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program.

Tim HaasTimothy Haas is a Data Center Manager in Denver, Colorado.  He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a Masters in International Management from the University of Maryland.  In 2003 Mr. Haas was published by ASES on his conversion of a Hawaiian home to net-zero-energy.  He also has a Systems Engineering Certification from Stevens Institute of Technology.  Tim is the President of the Denver Electric Vehicle Council, is on the selection committee for the Golden Solar Homes Tour (where his net-zero-energy-cost home was featured twice) and donated a solar array to a woman’s Catholic charity.

Charles JohnsonCharles Johnson is currently a MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow at Rocky Mountain Institute.  At RMI, Charlie works primarily in the transportation practice, with a particular focus on the economics of electric vehicles in high-mileage use-cases such as taxis, rental cars, and real estate agents. Prior to joining RMI, Charlie spent 2 years as a consultant at Bain & Company where he worked with a variety of corporate and non-profit clients on issues including organizational design, pricing strategy, due diligence, and strategic planning. Through his education and research in physics and computer science and his business experiences, Charlie has developed a deep appreciation for the intersection of technology and business as well as how to drive large organizations and industries towards a restorative energy future.

Craig McDonaldCraig McDonald is a Managing Director in the Energy practice. With more than 30 years of experience, he has advised utilities, governments, private equity firms, and energy services companies in developing, implementing, and evaluating clean energy policies and programs. Craig has counseled governmental agencies, utilities, and investors on policies and investments to accelerate the “commercialization” and market adoption of emerging clean energy technologies. Craig’s expertise includes strategy, finance, public policy, technology management, resource planning, asset management, and regulatory analysis. He has testified on utility planning, rates, and market issues in more than twelve states and two Canadian provinces.

Michael MendelsohnMichael Mendelsohn is a member of the Market and Policy Impact Analysis Group in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at NREL. Michael’s areas of expertise include: renewable energy financing, Loan Guarantee program, Treasury Grant program, utility-scale solar development, and electric vehicle deployment and cost-effectiveness. Michael’s primary research interests include: improving government incentives to stimulate RE development, costs and benefits of wide-scale EV deployment, comparison of international incentives, and distributed storage.

Zane SelvansZane Selvans earned his PhD in Planetary Geophysics from CU in 2009, exploring the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, before moving back to Earth to work on local and state level climate and utility policy in Colorado.  In addition, as a leader within several civic organizations including the Boulder Community Housing Association (BoCHA), Better Boulder, and Community Cycles, he works to enable high quality, low resource consumption ways of life, by addressing the laws and policies which often prohibit them.  This includes advocating for urban places that don’t depend on cars and legalizing shared, community oriented housing.

Steve StevensSteve Stevens worked for 35 years in R&D at AT&T BELL TELEPHONE LABORATORIES, after which he (a mathematician/physicist) retired, moved to Golden, and established his Sustainable Museum/Gallery/Library of Sustainable Transportation: Golden Oldy Cyclery in 2000.  Painfully aware of Climate Change, he sets examples for museums, businesses, and home owners:  retrofitting energy efficient features; cutting natural gas usage 96%; cutting electricity usage over 200%. Sunshine powers his transport. Food is produced on-site:  permaculture garden, vineyard, mini-orchard, and newly constructed greenhouse. He was awarded: 1) Golden’s Individual Sustainability Award (2009); 2) Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) “Volunteer of the Year”(2009); 3)  “Residential Energy Renovation” award presented by Governor Ritter at the World Renewable Energy Forum  (2012).

Danielle Vitoff Danielle Vitoff is a Managing Consultant in Navigant’s Energy Practice. Danielle specializes in whole-building, energy efficient solutions for residential and commercial. Prior to Navigant, Danielle worked as the Research Director for Maclay Architects, a small sustainable design firm located in Vermont, where she supported multiple zero net energy projects and the writing of a recently published book, The New Net Zero. Danielle is working towards her Masters in Architectural Engineering at CU Boulder; studying the implications of code development in relation to zero net energy communities. Danielle serves as the VP of Corporate Outreach for the CU Energy Club.

Alliance Center Speakers, May 2015

Yvette M. Alley_copyYvette M. Alley is a proud Colorado native who recently graduated from Ecotech Institute with a focus on Energy Efficiency.  She has also recently retired from the United States Army and is currently working as a power distribution designer gaining intimate knowledge of how the power grid is constructed and works. Her future goals are to use her knowledge of humanity and energy to design working and living spaces that allow humans and nature to co-exist harmoniously. LEED and Building Performance Institute certifications are future goals to achieve.

John Dierking

Jon Dierking is the Principal of Overlay Consulting and has over 15 years of experience managing and executing energy efficiency programs, energy management strategies, retrocommissioning, energy audits, LEED and sustainability projects within the public and private sectors. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, is a Professional Engineer, Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Certified Energy Procurement Professional (CEP), and is a LEED Accredited Professional. His experience includes the development and execution of utility, state, municipal and corporate energy management and sustainability programs incorporating innovative technologies and program designs.


Laura Farris is an environmental engineer with EPA Region 8 in Denver, CO. As the Climate Change Coordinator, she specializes in greenhouse gas reduction, climate resiliency, and knowledge building activities. Additionally, throughout her 15+ years with the EPA, she has also focused on indoor air quality, pollution prevention, and sustainable development. Laura has local government experience as a Trustee and the Mayor of Nederland, Colorado, and she also worked with an environmental non-profit (the StEPP Foundation) funding and overseeing local on-the-ground projects through an innovative funding mechanism.

Tom Figel Photo

Tom Figel is Policy & Utility Relations Manager with GRID Alternatives Colorado, a nonprofit that works to make solar technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. He manages utility relationships, statewide advocacy and development of GRID Colorado’s community solar program. Tom has professional experience in grassroots organizing, policy, and cleantech. He graduated from the University of Washington and completed a Masters in Environmental Science, Energy Policy & Management in Europe. Tom loves sailing, skiing, hiking/camping, basketball, travel and languages.

Scott Hornafius

Scott Hornafius received a Ph.D. in the Earth Sciences from the University of California at Santa Barbara and worked in the oil industry for the last 32 years in Colorado, California, London, Papua New Guinea and Australia. For the past two years he has served as the President of Elk Petroleum Limited, which is an Australian listed company with assets in Wyoming and Nebraska. During that time he developed the concept of Carbon Negative Oil made by a process called bio-CO2-EOR with his daughter Katherine Hornafius, and this work was recently published in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control.

Katrina Managan

Katrina Managan leads the Denver City Energy Project – advising Denver on the development and implementation of programs that will advance energy efficiency in commercial and multi-family real estate. Prior to her role in Denver, Katrina was a Program Manager with the Institute for Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls where she researched and analyzed market strategies and policy options that can significantly improve the energy efficiency of the built environment.  She spends much of her free time climbing and skiing in the mountains.

Tracy Phillips

Tracy Phillips is the President of 7th Gen Energy Solutions, and is a Certified Energy Manager, Certified Demand Side Management Professional, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional, and holds a Master’s Degree in Physics. His 17 years of experience includes energy audits, recommissioning, measurement and verification, master planning, and third-party technical review services.  Most notably, Tracy is currently acting as the technical lead for the EDF’s Investor Confidence Project.  He is currently serving as the Chair of the IPMVP technical advisory committee, and Vice Chair of his local Lafayette Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee.

John Powers Photo - HighRes6x4John Powers has spent more time selling renewable energy to corporate and industrial clients than just about anybody in America.  In his 12+ years at Renewable Choice Energy in Boulder, John has served a variety of leadership roles including top salesperson, founder of the corporate hot sauce bar, and currently as Vice President of Business Development.  In his current capacity, John spends his days (and some nights) working with the largest corporations in the world to get brand-new wind farms and solar plants built via long-term power purchase agreements.    John is a LEED Accredited Professional and received a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University.

John Whitcomb

John Whitcomb is an entrepreneur and sustainability expert. He is the author of: A Planning Guide for Developing Zero Energy Communities: a comprehensive primer instructing on the implementation of ZECs, as defined by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Whitcomb’s research focuses on smart development, where he leverages +20-years of consulting experience for AT&T, Boeing, Cisco, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy, the US White House, US Navy, IRS, US AID and NASA. John is passionate about sustainability that will enhance work, life and play – and improving security and the environment. He is President of TowardZero.org, and affiliated with other non-profits.

switch~ at The Alliance Center Topic Selections

Sustainable Cars from the Bone Yard Yvette Alley
Ecotech Institute:  Sustainable Business Program
Energy Efficiency – One Size Fits None Tracy Phillips
7th Gen Energy Solutions
Low-income community solar Tom Figel
GRID Alternatives Colorado
A Low Carbon Fuel Standard for Colorado? Scott Hornafius
Elk Petroleum
Use Energy Smarter:  Buildings Katrina Managan
Department of Environmental Health, City and County of Denver
Crystal Ball Laura Farris
EPA Region 8
Online Reverse Auction for Energy Efficiency Incentives Jon Dierking
Overlay Consulting
Take a Bite Out of Climate Change! John Whitcomb
Why Even the Koch Brothers Will Buy Renewable Energy John Powers
Renewable Choice Energy


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