Institute for Energy Studies Speaker Series

With the generous support of Alaska Airlines, the Institute for Energy Studies speaker series convenes energy experts from on and off campus and connects the Western Washington University and Bellingham energy communities. Speakers will explore the diverse fields of energy research and development, and also debate timely issues that connect public policy and business thinking to emerging knowledge in energy science and technology.

* Tuesdays at 4pm in SL130​​​
* The lectures are free and open to the public

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Date Fall 2018 Speakers Organization & Bio
Oct 2, 2018

Kellen Lynch - "Project ZeNETH - Western Washington University's Zero Net Energy Tiny House"

Project ZeNETH (Zero Net Energy Tiny House) is an unprecedented student initiative at Western that is engaging students with their learning on a professional level. This project has included teams focused on design, energy analysis, student outreach, media, construction, urban planning, grant writing, and the social impact of housing. In June 2018, ZeNETH received major funding through Western's Sustainable Action Fund and is now preparing to begin building in 2019. Kellen's presentation will focus on how the tiny house team and vision have grown, and how more Western students can get involved with ZeNETH, or their own inspired project. 

Kellen Lynch is the Project Manager for Project ZeNETH. He is focused on innovating sustainable and scalable energy designs through Western’s Institute for Energy Studies and Fairhaven College. Upon graduating, Kellen will be applying his education in his hometown of Port Townsend, WA. Kellen holds an Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science and has previously launched two successful food businesses – a bakery and a pop-up restaurant. 
Oct 9, 2018

Steven Klein - "The Electric Utility of the Past, Present & Future – Dinosaur or Technology Enabler?

For over a century, electric utilities were regulated monopolies that built power plants, strung transmission and distribution lines, billed customers, and were rewarded with a predictable return on investment. Utilities became proficient at reliably sending electrons in one direction from large central station fossil fuel and nuclear power plants to businesses and homes. Today, consumers and businesses are demanding more control over the energy they use, cleaner energy sources and more innovative energy services.  These market trends constitute a formidable threat to traditional utility business models. With the success of energy efficiency and customer owned distributed energy resources (DER’s), primarily solar, utilities are facing declining sales and increasing competition at a time of increasing costs. Utilities may soon face a future in which they will have trouble recovering fixed costs and making a profit because they have historically made money based on the volume of electricity they sell.

Over the next decade an evolutionary tidal wave of disruptive technologies, deregulation and consumer demands will forever change the electric industry.  Disruptions will come from many directions such as distributed generation, energy storage solutions, secure micro-grids, smart appliances, attractive electric vehicle options and abundant behind-the-meter devices that enable limitless energy management options and schemes. 

The prevailing narrative of the rooftop solar industry is that they are the good guys who must struggle to avoid being crushed by the slow-to-change, old-school dinosaurs of the electricity utility industry. Whereas the utility industry feels they are unreasonably expected to accommodate electrons flowing in two directions, to and from consumers, without compromising safety and reliability, as a new generation of electronic devices enters the market. 

Steven Klein, a recently retired utility industry CEO, will present his perspectives on the past, present and future of the electric utility industry.  You may be surprised to find this utility dinosaur is more enlightened than you may have expected.

Steven J. Klein is a successful and recognized leader in the electric utility industry with 36 years experience of which the past twenty two years he has been the senior executive of two large municipal public power utilities with extensive generation, transmission and distribution assets.  Mr. Klein recently retired but is still sought out for his advice and counsel and serves on various business, academic and research related boards.
Oct 16, 2018

Ross Macfarlane – "Scaling Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis: What’s Holding Us Back"

Scientists have known for decades that pollution resulting from our combustion of fossil fuels puts global civilization on a course for catastrophe. The cost and feasibility of solutions have been evolving rapidly, making the transition to clean and efficient energy both affordable and inevitable. Nevertheless, our response is not matching the scale or urgency that the climate crisis demands.  This talk explores some of the key political, economic, and psychological roadblocks that are holding us back, and suggests actions that we can all take to better meet this challenge.
Ross brings more than 35 years of experience working on public policy, energy and environmental issues. He was a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates) where he managed the environmental law practice and represented a wide range of public and private clients. He also served on the management team for an agency working to build urban mass transit. At Climate Solutions, Ross worked to forge partnerships with businesses that are building the clean energy economy in the Pacific Northwest and helped promote strong climate and energy policy. Ross currently serves as a director for the national board of the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, and Clean Energy Transitions Institute. Ross was a founding member of the Advisory Board for Western’s Institute for Energy Studies and is an Instructor in the program. A Northwest native, Ross is a graduate of Pomona College and University of Washington School of Law. He is passionate about hiking, skiing, climbing and anything outdoors.
Oct 23, 2018

Brian Janous – "Powering the Cloud: Microsoft’s Perspective on the Future of Energy"

The cloud is an ever expanding part of our daily life, and raw material of all those bits is energy. Energy is at the center of where we place datacenters, how we design them, and how we operate them. As a result, the future of the energy industry and the future of the cloud are intricately intertwined. Brian will discuss how Microsoft sees this future state for both energy and cloud evolving and what steps Microsoft is taking to prepare for this evolution.

Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft, is responsible for leading the development and execution of Microsoft’s global data center energy and sustainability strategy. These data centers provide the foundational cloud infrastructure for Microsoft’s online and cloud services for consumers and businesses worldwide. His responsibilities include oversight of energy supply, renewable energy, distributed generation,and strategic partnerships to ensure a power supply that is reliable and sustainable. He also creates end-to-end strategies that will drive innovations in the next generation of cloud data centers with a focus on minimizing environmental impact across energy, carbon, water and waste. 

Brian joined Microsoft in 2011 after 12 years in the energy industry where he worked as a Consultant at Brubaker & Associates, assisting Fortune 500 companies with energy procurement, policy, and sustainability matters. Brian holds an MBA from Webster University, a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Missouri, and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Missouri.


Oct 30, 2018

Shawn Collins - Opportunity Council


Nov 6, 2018

Graham Marmion - PSE/EVs

Nov 13, 2018

Kim Foster - Outback Power

Nov 20, 2018

David Allen - McKinstry

Nov 27, 2018

Chris James - China Programs


Dec 4, 2018

Chris Page - Amazon/Yahoo