Institute for Energy Studies Speaker Series

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 4 PM in ES 100
* The lectures are free and open to the public
* Students may register for ENRG 391 and receive 1 credit
* Questions?

Date Presentation Speaker Bio

Oct 1, 2019

Matt Steuerwalt:

"Energy & Climate Policy in Washington: Where are we? Where are we going?"

Matt Steuerwalt graduated from what is now the Evans School with a M.P.A. in 1997. He has frequently returned to teach courses on energy and the environment as a Lecturer and joined the faculty as a Senior Lecturer in 2017. Steuerwalt is currently a partner at Insight Strategic Partners, where he advises a wide range of clients on strategy across a broad array of issues they face. After working for over two decades in the public and private sectors on complex policy issues, he has earned the trust and respect of elected officials, business and community leaders around the state of Washington.

Most recently, Steuerwalt served as Governor Jay Inslee's executive policy director, where he directed the formation of the Governor's agenda and the work to advance that agenda, served as a member of his executive management team, and led a team of over 20 professional staff. Steuerwalt also served as a policy advisor to Governor Chris Gregoire, on a variety of issues such as energy and climate, telecommunications, banking and tribal fishing. In between his service to the two Governors, he spent five years as a public affairs consultant at Strategies 360, where he was a Senior Vice President, leading work in several states for a number of national and regional energy, technology, and industrial manufacturing clients. He began his work in Washington State in the Office of the Attorney General, where he was a policy advisor before moving to the governor's office.

Steuerwalt is a graduate of the University of California at San Diego. He and his wife live in Seattle with their two young boys, who are just beginning to be able to out-ski and out-fish their father.

Oct 8, 2019

Joel Swisher:

"The Energy Transition – a History of Surprises, a Future of Solutions"

Dr. Joel Swisher, Director of the Institute for Energy Studies at WWU, has a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford, and his PhD dissertation topic was carbon offsets, which led him to work on problems that range from the costs of reducing carbon emissions in a US electric utility to the potential for saving carbon in conservation and forestry projects in Central America. He has since worked extensively in Brazil, southern Africa and Scandinavia.

During most of the 2000- decade, Dr. Swisher was at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), where he was managing director of research and consulting for the well-known clean energy think tank. At RMI, Dr. Swisher led consulting engagements on energy efficiency and sustainable business for companies that produce everything from semiconductor chips to potato chips.

While teaching in Stanford’s School of Engineering before moving to WWU in 2014, Dr. Swisher introduced several new, interdisciplinary courses, such as Carbon Neutral Design, Electric Utility Resource Planning, and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation. Updated versions of these courses are now in the WWU energy course catalogue.

Oct 15, 2019

David Roberts:

"Changes underway in China to address citizen concerns regarding the quality of air, water, and food"

David Roberts will be speaking on changes underway in China to address citizen concerns regarding the quality of air, water, and food. The Chinese government adopted national policies in 2017 aimed at creating an Eco-Civilization that achieves clean energy production, environmental restoration, development of a circular economy, repatriation of farm workers, and modernization of their education system. David recently attended conferences in China on green infrastructure and was a visitor at several ecovillages. He will be sharing perspectives from the trip and discussing the impact of these changes on energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy and pollution control relative to fossil fuels. 

David Roberts is the principal and co-owner of Kulshan Services, a consulting firm in Bellingham, Washington. He specializes in projects involving watershed management, climate change, and sustainability. David has facilitated community negotiations and strategic discussions for the State of Washington and as a private consultant for over 35 years. He holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Engineering.

Oct 22, 2019

Paolo Maccario, CEO of Silfab Solar, North America:

"The story of Silfab Solar"

The story of Silfab Solar, the North American manufacturing leader in ultra-high-efficiency solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. Silfab has over 35 years of solar experience spanning the entire vertical PV value chain including wafers, ingots, R&D, engineering and product innovation. Operating in Toronto, Canada and Bellingham, Washington, where Silfab runs the only PV manufacturing plant in Washington state, the combined facilities feature multiple automated production lines utilizing just-in-time manufacturing to deliver Buy American-approved PV modules specifically designed for, and dedicated to, the North American rooftop PV market. Silfab provides value to residential and commercial customers who want domestically-made modules and maximum output per square foot of rooftop area.

Paolo Maccario is CEO of Silfab Solar, North America. Maccario has 20 years of experience as CEO of leading international automotive and clean-tech organizations. Before joining Silfab, he worked as Chief Executive Officer of 6N Silicon Inc., one of the fastest growing Canadian manufacturers of high purity solar grade silicon. Prior to that, he was CEO of Meridian Technologies Inc., the world’s largest company in engineering and manufacturing of magnesium products for the automotive industry. Earlier, Maccario held senior and executive management positions in automotive and industrial organizations operating in the U.S., Mexico, and Italy, including Teksid Aluminum Foundry and various units of Fiat.

Oct 29, 2019

Froylan Sifuentes:

"New opportunities for the decarbonization of the electric power system in China"

Froylán E. Sifuentes joined the Institute for Energy Studies in Fall 2019 as a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Sciences. His research focuses on how to integrate higher penetrations of renewables into regional and national decarbonization pathways. Prior to joining the IES, Froy held a postdoctoral researcher position at LBNL, working on electricity system modeling, planning and, operation in a changing Chinese electric grid. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley working on the intersection of building controls, electricity, and renewable energy. He has also worked as a researcher at Tsinghua University and the State Grid Electricity Research Institute in Beijing, China. He obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nov 5, 2019

Sharon Shewmake: 

"Climate Mitigation for Rural Areas: What Can Washington Learn from Denmark?"

We all hear so often about the low-carbon “jobs of the future,” but until we’ve seen them with our own eyes, they can be hard to imagine. Last month, Sharon Shewmake traveled to Denmark with a bipartisan delegation of five Republican and six Democrats from the State House of Representatives to see just how a rural economy can create jobs while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Sharon Shewmake is an economics professor at WWU, a faculty member of the Institute for Energy Studies and a State Representative for Washington State's 42nd Legislative District. 

Nov 12, 2019

Chris James, Regulatory Assistance Project:

"China’s Improved Air Quality: Will Progress Continue? And What About GHG Emissions?"

China achieved unprecedented progress to improve air quality from 2013-17. While PM concentrations decreased by up to 30%, levels remain much higher than China’s ambient standards, and ozone concentrations have increased. Greenhouse gas emissions intensity continues to improve, but their total has increased slightly in the last two years.  China has also launched a carbon trading program for the power sector. This talk will focus on China’s efforts to improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions since 2018.

Chris James has 30 years of experience working in air quality, covering nearly every facet of this topic, from developing ambient monitoring networks, emissions inventories, and control measures, to implementing and enforcing such measures. He champions multi-pollutant air quality planning and qualifying energy efficiency as both a reliability resource and an air quality control measure. Recent RAP projects include working with national- and provincial-level air agencies in China to develop plans to implement the State Council requirements to improve ambient air quality 25 percent.

Prior to joining RAP, Mr. James was director of air planning and manager of climate change and energy programs for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where he served as staff lead for the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Mr. James also worked in the Seattle regional office of the EPA, where he received two “gold medals” for his work to enforce air quality regulations. At one point, he had one-third of all such cases in the United States. Mr. James also worked in the private sector for Synapse Energy Economics and for consultants to the utility and biomass energy industries.

He holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a master’s in environmental studies from Brown University.

Nov 19, 2019

Bill Chapman:

"An Environmental Professional's View of Climate & Our Energy Future"

From 2014 to 2018, Bill Chapman was President and CEO of Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview. Prior to that, Bill served as its legal counsel. He was closely involved in Millennium's effort to permit a controversial facility for handling and exporting to Asia coal and other bulk materials. Previously Bill was a partner with the K&L Gates law firm where he advised corporations and municipalities in permitting and environmental compliance matters in the energy, technology, manufacturing and real estate development industries. Bill devoted his three decade legal career to balancing environmental and economic objectives on his clients' projects, including many energy facilities. 

Bill is a co-founder of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and has served on the Coalition’s Board of Directors for 30 years. He also served on Washington State’s Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, which approved grants for purchasing and enhancing parks, bicycle trails, shoreline access and critical wildlife habitat. Bill is also a key leader pf the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust that recently received Federal designation of the 1.55 million acre Mountains to Sound Greenway. 

Bill studied environmental engineering sciences as an undergraduate at Harvard University and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia focused on environmental law.

Nov 26, 2019

Patrick Shive and Nellie Joselyn:

"Energy Tool Lending Library Demonstration"

The Energy Tool Lending Library is intended to aid students in having a more hands on learning experience here at Western. It allows students to learn about the energy use in their surrounding environments and recognize areas where change might need to occur. The Tool Lending Library has a multitude of tools that are all free for students to check out and use for class research projects or personal investigations. In the Library we have kilowatt meters, infrared thermometers, a solar path finder, thermal imaging cameras, CO2 sensors, and a slew of others. If you want to learn more about the tools and what you could use them for we will be doing a demo and informal Q&A. If you can make it to the speaker series the library is located in SMATE 220 open from MWF from 10AM - 1PM, feel free to swing by anytime! Or email with questions.

Dec 3, 2019

Shawn Collins:

"Equity in Energy Policy and the Clean Energy Transformation Act"

Shawn Collins is the Director of the Energy Project at Opportunity Council. The Energy Project, a collaborative initiative between the Washington Community Action Partnership and the State of Washington Department of Commerce, strives to improve affordable access to energy services for low-income households across Washington State. 

Shawn has also been an Adjunct Faculty member at Western Washington University where he taught energy policy and politics at the Institute for Energy Studies, a newly created interdisciplinary program. He has worked in the non-profit sector for the past seventeen years with a variety of organizations and on multiple issues including homelessness and housing, anti-hunger programs, telecommunications, and energy. He is a 2002 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, where he received a BA in English Literature.