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

alaska air logo

IES Logo

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 - "Equity and Affordability in Energy Policy"

Shawn will be presenting on topics such as advanced metering infrastructure, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and community solar with a perspective focused on access and affordability for low-income populations.

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 worked in the non-profit sector for the past fifteen years with a variety of organizations and on multiple issues including homelessness and housing, aniti-hunger programs, telecommunications, renewable energy and energy efficiency. He is a 2002 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, where he received a BA in English Literature. 

Nov 6, 2018

Graham Marmion - "The Charging Patterns of Electric Vehicles" 

Electrifying our personal vehicles, busses, trucks and the rest of the transportation system is a powerful tool for reducing carbon emissions in Washington State - and that electrification is coming fast. However, the electricity used by these vehicles might risk the reliability of the electric system by increasing the peak demand, which typically necessitates expensive infrastructure upgrades to mitigate. This talk presents the charging patterns of Electric Vehicles, the risk posed by the increased electric load, and the Load Shifting research Puget Sound Energy is undertaking to solve this problem without expensive infrastructure changes.

Graham Marmion is a Market Analyst with Puget Sound Energy focusing on Transportation Electrification programs. Prior to this work with Transportation Electrification, Graham spent four years as an analyst with Puget Sound Energy’s Regulatory department. In 2014, Graham graduated from Western Washington University with a BA of Economics and Minors in Energy Policy and Political Science. In 2018, he earned his Masters in Policy Studies from the University of Washington. His primary research interests are Transportation Electrification, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Carbon Regulation. During his free time Graham’s  hobbies include fitness, tabletop games, and craft beer.

Nov 13, 2018

Kim Foster - "A Case Study in Off Grid Agriculture"

The presentation will dive deeply into sizing an off grid system for a large dairy farm located in Southeastern Arizona and exploring the potential benefits of solar power in rural areas. In the conclusion, real world examples from OutBack installers will be presented.

Kim Foster studied chemical engineering at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation, joined the U.S. Navy as a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer and was sent to Norfolk, VA as the Communications Officer of the USS Forrest Sherman, a guided missile destroyer. After two years in VA, was sent to the Navy Nuclear Power School in Charleston, SC. Upon qualification as an S5W class nuclear power plant supervisor, was sent to Bremerton as the Reactor Electrical Division Officer on the USS John C. Stennis. While on Stennis, operated an A4W class nuclear power plant and supervised the electricians responsible for maintaining the power generating steam turbines and the ship’s electrical network. Since January, have been working at OutBack Power as an applications engineer performing system testing, installer training, and system design reviews.

Nov 20, 2018

David Allen - “The Business Side of the Energy Transition to a Clean Economy

While it has taken several years to gather consensus of the global threat presented by climate change and the potential of  an evolving energy resource to manage those risks, our country is now responding.  Through a combination of business led innovation and public policy much has been done, but much more will be required for many years. In his presentation,

David Allen will explore the many aspects the business side of the energy transition to a clean economy with insights to public-private partnerships and real life examples of how innovation and the changing landscape of financial incentives can lead us to a better future.

David E. Allen is a Principal of McKinstry, a national consulting, construction, energy and facility services firm based in Seattle. As McKinstry’s Executive Vice President, David led the company’s brand development including strategic positioning, overseeing business development, community engagement and client services company-wide.  

David is a respected thought leader and well known for his seminars and presentations on branding, business development, workforce strategies and regional economic development. He is a popular keynote speaker and guest lecturer for business, educational and community service organizations. He serves on the boards of several industry associations, trade groups, community organizations and government-business alliances.

Of note, David is a national trustee for the Rocky Mountain Institute, is past chair and serves on the executive committees of both the Clean Tech Alliance and the Economic Development Council, and is a founding member of Western Washington University’s Energy Advisory Board.  of Washington. His primary research interests are Transportation Electrification, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Carbon Regulation. During his free time Graham’s  hobbies include fitness, tabletop games, and craft beer.

Nov 27, 2018

Chris James - “China's Improved Air Quality: Will Progress Continue? And What About GHG Emissions?”

This presentation will cover the significant progress China has made since 2013 to reduce pollution, and the policy structure that enabled that to occur. It will also touch on the nascent carbon market.

hristopher A. James advises regulators, advocates, and businesses on how to reduce greenhouse gas, criteria, and toxic pollutants to meet existing and new air standards, improve water quality, and protect consumers. His projects span the areas of air quality, energy efficiency, distributed resources, demand response, and linking energy and the environment in air quality and energy planning processes. Recent 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 by 2017, working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state air regulators to develop strategies to reduce greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions from the power sector, and working with the City of Krakow and the Malapolska Region in Poland to develop an air quality plan that will meet European pollution standards.
Mr. 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.
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 was also the DEP representative to the Connecticut Energy Conservation Management Board, which provided advice and oversight for utility energy efficiency programs.
Dec 4, 2018

David Roberts - “Climate Change - Energy and Opportunity"

David’s presentation  will cover basic energy economics, employment, and potential technological fixes. He will also share steps we all can take to reduce our carbon footprint.

David Roberts is the Principal and Owner of Kulshan Services LLC where he provides consultation for clients engaged in sustainability planning, climate change, landscape and watershed management, and conservation planning. David has worked in this field for over 30 years, largely at the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Natural Resources. He has a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of Washington and a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Washington State University.