Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Gardner of EnerNOC

IEE alum Stephanie Gardner in front of the network operations center at EnerNOC.

IEE alum Stephanie Gardner in front of the network operations center at EnerNOC.

Stephanie Gardner was a Research Associate at the Institute for Energy and the Environment while working towards her Masters in Environmental Law and Policy (MELP ’14) and a certificate in Energy Law. In her time at the Institute, Stephanie worked on the Smart Grid team, researching and contributing to articles about smart grid projects. Today, she is an Account Manager at EnerNOC, a leading company in the burgeoning demand response sector.

We caught up with Stephanie during her lunch break, and learned more about her work at EnerNOC, her time at the IEE, and her passion for electric cars.

Talk to us a bit about EnerNOC. What do you do?

EnerNOC is a emand response, energy procurement, and energy intelligence software company in Boston. I focus on demand response, where we help end-use electric customers reduce their electricity use during critical periods of peak demand on the grid or high power prices. It reduces the stress on the grid and the customers are compensated for the capacity they provide.

And what do you do there—what’s the job and what’s the nature of your work?

I’m an account manager, helping demand response customers, and I’m also the PJM lead for my team. [Note: That’s the PJM Interconnection, or the RTO that serves the mid-Atlantic region.] Not only do I work with customers in the PJM footprint, but I also work with the internal groups at EnerNOC that carry out the demand response programs throughout PJM. For instance I work with the Program Manager on planning and the Dispatch Response Team on execution of the programs.

And my team—the customer facing team—we help coach customers through demand response events, and help get them prepared for different DR seasons, educate them on the program rules and the specifics of how the programs operate.

So how does it actually work in practice? Do you turn off a customer when you get a signal from the grid operator?

There are very few customers that we actually toggle from our NOC (Network Operations Center). We do have that ability, but most customers would rather make that call on their own, so we typically give about a 30 minute to 2 hour advanced notice of an event [a critical peak period for the grid]. And then they are responsible for enacting an energy reduction plan.

What’s the energy reduction plan?

We help our customers develop an energy reduction plan. It consists of what steps they’ll take when they get notice of an event. So, maybe adjusting their HVAC temperature settings, if they’re a commercial real estate customer. A manufacturing customer might shut down some production lines. Many customers will toggle their electric load to a back-up generator.

Do you have to train the customers on their plans?

We provide training and education—we’ll install our own electric meter and walk through the plan with them. Our meter allows them to view their demand in real time, in five minute intervals in our online application. And when there’s an event, they’ll get emails and text messages from us, and by being able to see their demand with our online software, they can maximize their performance in the program and earn the most revenue.

So let’s talk a bit about you and your time at the IEE. What did you work on here?

I was a Research Associate, and worked on the Smart Grid team. My research was on smart grid projects in Germany.

From smart grids to demand response—that’s a pretty nice transition.

Yes, definitely. The industry I’m working in—demand response—is a huge part of making the grid smarter. The grid still needs to become more flexible and be capable of balancing loads in an intangible “in the background” way. It’s so exciting to work for a company where I see that happening. My company is at the forefront and continues to be at the forefront of those changes and innovations.

While at VLS, I really discovered a strong interest, if not a passion, for how our energy system works. I’m definitely the go-to person on our team for understanding how utilities and regulatory agencies are structured and interact within the broader energy system. Having taken those energy classes at VLS and working at the Institute, I think I understood a lot more about those topics than others entering the energy industry.

Any other ways IEE helped prepare you for the job?

I actually first heard about EnerNOC when the IEE sponsored a few of us to attend the Harvard Energy Symposium back in September 2014.  One of EnerNOC’s employees was a featured panelist at the event. I kept an eye on the company as I worked toward graduation, and applied for a few different roles.

Also, not directly related to my current career tasks, but definitely related to my broader professional interests, the smart grid team played a big role in my ability to collaborate with co-authors and write articles. I’m very passionate about EVs [electric vehicles] and have published two articles in peer-reviewed journals about life cycle costs of EVs and vehicle-to-grid services over the last couple years.

That’s great. We’ll pass them around the IEE. Thanks for taking your lunch break to talk to us!

You can download Stephanie’s articles here:

 

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VLS Energy Clinic Comments on FTC’s “Something New Under the Sun” Workshop

On June 21, the Federal Trade Commission held a one-day public workshop — Something New Under the Sun: Competition & Consumer Protection Issues in Solar Energy—to “explore competition and consumer protection issues that may arise when consumers generate their own electric power by installing home solar photovoltaic (PV) panels – a practice known as solar distributed generation (DG).”

The FTC also invited public comments on the issue.  The Vermont Law School’s Energy Clinic took up this opportunity, and submitted comments focused on the issues of consumer protection and competition among solar providers.

The comments are pasted below. The original letter can be seen and downloaded here.

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Alumni Spotlight: Katie Johnson of One Energy

katiejohnson

In her time as a Research Associate at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Katie Johnson (JD ’13) helped research and publish a report detailing state policies related to consumer privacy and the smart grid and co-authored a report on federal energy efficiency incentives for farmers. Today, Katie is General Counsel at One Energy, an Ohio-based innovative clean energy company that connects industrial customers with their own distributed wind projects.

We talked to Katie about her time at Vermont Law School, and how working in the IEE helped prepare her for a job in renewable energy.

IEE: Tell us about One Energy. What does your company do?

Katie Johnson: We provide “Wind for Industry©.” [Editor’s note: Of course, the General Counsel would insist that we transcribe the slogan with the copyright.] Essentially, we work with industrial companies — like Whirlpool, Ball Corporation, and Marathon Oil — to install industrial size wind turbines that offset their energy usage. These are wind farm sized turbines, at least 1.5 megawatts,right on site at the industrial facilities Continue reading

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Vermont Net Metering Rule Changes: What You Need to Know about Rule 5.100

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 12.07.25 PMBelow is info from a fact sheet released by the Energy Clinic at Vermont Law School about the Public Service Board’s proposed rule changes. Download the fact sheet along with a sample letter to the PSB here: Rule5.100-Fact Sheet

Vermont PSB Rule 5.100 Revisions – Net Metering

What to know about the PSB’s Proposed Net Metering Changes and how you can act to preserve your ability to go solar.

The Public Service Board is currently revising the net metering program (Rule 5.100). As directed by the Vermont legislature in Act 99, the PSB must design a revised program with input from impacted parties and the public.

The proposed rule makes a number of changes to the current net metering program that harm Vermonters who want to go solar:

  • Eliminates the solar adder, an additional credit for each kWh a solar system produces that is applied directly to a customer’s bill. The solar adder is currently between 4-6¢ per kWh, depending on the size of the system.

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IEE Fortnightly – March Madness Edition

biodiesel_report-1

Note: We send out biweekly updates to the VLS community about the goings-on at the Institute. We will re-post them here for posterity.

Greetings from the Eaton House,

Neither spring break nor college hoops have slowed down the IEE. Still plenty happening over here during the past couple of weeks.

Talking Divestment on WDEV

Institute Director Michael Dworkin was invited to join Equal Time Radio on WDEV to discuss the divestment of public pensions from fossil fuels. As careful Fortnightly readers will recall, Michael was in Montpelier a few weeks ago testifying before a rare joint-session of the House and Senate Committees on Government Operations. Late last month, the House passed a resolution that asked the state’s pension fund panel to consider the actions recommended by the testimony. On Friday, Michael, with VLS Masters student Brandon Oldham, was back in Montpelier, talking to the State Treasurer about reasons and strategies for divestment.

Listen to Michael on Equal Time Radio: http://www.equaltimeradio.com/2016/should-we-divest-pensions-from-fossil-fuels-for-financial-reasons

Baby It’s Cold Inside

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What Makes Good Solar in Vermont?

In or around Addison County? Come see IEE Deputy Director Kevin Jones speak on this panel hosted by Acorn Energy Co-op.

What makes good solar in Vermont?

aec_logo4Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Ilsley Library, Middlebury
7 – 8:30 PM

Vermont has a target of 90% renewable generation by 2050, and the path to get there is largely paved with solar panels.  Recently, however, some communities have expressed concern about how and where solar projects are being built across the state. From a lack  of consensus on the definitions of “community solar” and renewable energy credits (RECs) to siting controversies surrounding many projects, to the recent Public Service Board decision to deny a large solar proposal, Vermonters are questioning the solar development process.

Join us for a conversation to explore these issues, discuss what makes an acceptable solar project, and how we can make progress towards our 90% target.

Our expert panelists include Gabrielle Stebbins, former Executive Director, Renewable Energy Vermont;  Kevin Jones, Professor, Vermont Law School; and Ben Marks, Regulatory Attorney and Acorn Energy Co-op Director.  Legislators, as well as representatives from Green Mountain Power have also been invited to join us.

Moderated by Board members, Andrea Murray and Suzy Hodgson.

Refreshments will be provided.  Please join us!

For more information, please contact Mary Mester
at 385-1911 or email at: info@acornenergycoop.com

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IEE Fortnightly – Town Meeting Day Edition

clinic_at_state_houseHappy Town Meeting Day from the Eaton House,

Hope you had a nice morning in your local town hall or school gym, engaging in one of our nation’s finest traditions of participatory democracy. Robert’s Rules need not apply here, so I move unilaterally to proceed to the IEE updates.

It’s a been a busy couple of weeks over here at the Institute, what with a visit from a certain presidential candidate’s energy and environment staff, and then with the Vermont Public Service Board’s release of new draft net metering rules.

For all of you who haven’t (yet!) had the good fortune of taking Prof. Dworkin’s “Energy Policy in a Carbon Constrained World,” net metering is a pretty important policy mechanism for solar development. The new draft rules are, well, in the words of our Deputy Director Kevin Jones, “fundamentally flawed.” Continue reading

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New Energy Clinic REC Report: Solar and Wind Provide Zero Percent of Vermont Electric Supply

Despite the recent growth in solar and wind projects, Vermonters’ consumption of energy from solar and wind is 0-percent, according to the Department of Public Service, as revealed today in a report by Vermont Law School’s Energy Clinic.

The report also reveals how greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont’s electric sector have approximately doubled over the last decade, despite the rapid development of solar and wind generating facilities in the state. The State’s policies covering renewable energy certificates (RECs) are responsible for this paradox, according to the report’s authors.

“The sale of RECs out of state resulting from Vermont’s past and current energy policies has contributed to a near doubling in greenhouse gas emissions from Vermont’s electric sector. This startling outcome from a policy meant to boost clean, renewable energy is proof of why it is so important to better understand RECs, and to get the policies that guide them right,” stated Heather Huebner, Community Solar Team Leader for Vermont Law School’s Energy Clinic and a second year law student at VLS. Continue reading

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IEE Fortnightly – Winter Warmer Edition

solar_fraunhofer[2]Greetings from the Eaton House,

Here’s what’s new at the Institute….

Senator Asks, “What the Heck is a REC?”

Last week, Senator Chris Bray, chair of the state’s Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, dropped into the Energy Clinic asking for help with a question our solar teams hear time and time again: “What the heck is a REC?” Of course the Senator himself knows, but as the Committee works to craft new legislation to update the state’s renewable energy policies, he recognized that many of our elected officials — and many, many Vermonters — don’t fully understand the “renewable energy certificate.” And that’s bad, as it’s a crucial concept to grasp as Vermont reaches for ambitious renewable energy goals.

Good thing we have our Community Solar team in the Energy Clinic. The team — staffed by student clinicians Heather Huebner, Gregg Freeman, and Aaron Kelly — have agreed to help the Senator by writing a paper to help explain RECs to both the voting public and legislators.

Heather, Gregg, and Aaron will head up to Montpelier on February 26th to present to the Natural Resources Committee. Continue reading

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IEE Fortnightly – Start of Semester Edition

tunbridge_solar_panels_151211Happy Spring Semester from the Eaton House,

We hope you enjoyed your holiday break and are recharged for the new semester. And, yes, we know it’s been longer than a fortnight since the last installment! So we have a couple of updates from the end of fall semester and some more news to report about the Institute.

Save the Date

IEE will be hosting an info session for students who are interested or curious about the research associate positions, working in the Energy Clinic, or about earning the energy certificate. The session is at 12:45-2pm on Thursday, January 28th in Nina Thomas Classroom. For anyone with a class conflict, we’ll have an informal open house across the street in the Eaton House immediately after the info session. We’ll send along another reminder next week but if you’re interested in applying to be a student researcher or work in the energy clinic next year, mark your calendar for Thursday, January 28th at 12:45.

VLS Solar Now Online Continue reading

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