This blog was written by SACE’s Communications Intern, Kailie Melchior. It is the fourth post in a series that interviews former SACE employees or partners and highlights where they are now in their careers. To follow this series and read other interviews, click here.
What was your position at SACE, and what did that entail?
My position at SACE as the Tennessee Valley Energy Policy Manager and my top priority was to engage with TVA in multiple venues to advocate for a greater commitment by TVA to clean energy resources. This included serving with Steve Smith on TVA’s integrated resource planning stakeholder group, meeting with TVA officials over program design for energy efficiency and distributed solar, and holding TVA accountable (through comments, blogs, media engagement, etc.) for their continued overreliance on fossil fuels and nuclear.
Another of my responsibilities was to advocate for supportive clean energy policies at the state level. The 2009 Federal stimulus package was released shortly after I started at SACE, and we engaged very closely with state officials on how best to allocate the funding that had been granted the state for clean energy investments, including efficiency and renewables.
What is your current position, and what do you work on?
I am currently the Lead Midwest Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. In this role, I spend much of my time analyzing the Midwest electricity sector, tracking industry trends and conduction analytics around the region’s shift to cleaner, lower-carbon electricity resources.
I also spend quite a bit of time in Michigan and Minnesota advocating for policies that support the transition to cleaner energy sources. I engage with state governments and regulatory agencies to ensure that sound analytics and science are the basis for decision-making and to defend against policies and regulations that will artificially prop up the fossil fuel industry in the face of competition from renewables and efficiency.
What do the next five years hold for environmental policy?
In my world, the next five years will be focused around the Federal Clean Power Plan (or its successor should it be struck down by the courts) and making sure it is implemented effectively in Midwestern states with a focus on renewables and efficiency and an avoidance of overreliance on natural gas. Given the suite of supportive clean energy policies that have come out of the Obama administration in the past few years, energy policy over the next five years will focus on achieving the goals of those policies and defending against attacks that would look to diminish or weaken these policies.
How have you integrated energy savings into your everyday life?
I rarely drive, either walking or biking the 3 miles to and from work. I also try to remain aware at home and at work of the opportunity to save energy – turning off lights, not running the air conditioner when it’s not necessary – these sorts of things are easy if you’re paying a little bit of attention. I am also a member of my organization sustainability task force that tracks and analyzes the organizations carbon footprint in several areas including energy usage, commuting, travel, and paper use. We can then identify where savings can be realized and affect change within the workplace.
What’s your favorite energy savings tips?
Fill the fridge! By replacing the extra space in my fridge and the fridge in my office with jugs of water (at home) and reams of paper (at work), I was able to cut energy use from those appliances by more than 30 percent.
Also walk when you can. I find walking to be a great time to ponder the world, get some exercise, take a deep breath and avoid some carbon. My walks to work in the morning have become my “me time” and I’m better of for it.