Vermont Energy Future Initiative

The Vermont Energy Future Initiative is a diverse, multi-sectoral group of leaders from across Vermont convened by the Energy Action Network. The shared goal of all Initiative members is to develop ideas and advance actions that can make significant progress towards meeting Vermont’s 2025 total energy and emissions reduction commitments while creating a more just, thriving, and sustainable state for Vermonters.

Our indicators of progress over the next six years include:

  • Significant reductions in fossil fuel use and carbon pollution from energy
  • Substantial increases in the share of our energy needs met via efficiency and renewables and the number of clean energy jobs in Vermont
  • Vermonters who are energy-secure and resilient
  • A stronger and more just Vermont economy

Participants

Stephanie Yu, Tom Torti, Darren Springer, April Salas, Tiana Smith, Laural Ruggles, Patricia MoultonJohanna Miller, Linda McGinnis, Geoff Martin, Dave Laforce, Dr. Tara Kulkarni, Kerrick Johnson, Justin Johnson, Phil Huffman, Brian Gray, Karen Glitman, Kate Desrochers, Maura Collins, Nick CharykElizabeth Chant, Josh Castonguay, Olivia Campbell Andersen.


Participants


Stephanie Yu is a policy analyst with Public Assets Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit think tank in Montpelier focused on improving the lives of vulnerable Vermonters.  She has been in the role since 2015.

Prior to her time in Vermont, she served as the Executive Director of Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service, where she managed the state’s AmeriCorps programs, volunteer efforts such as the Governor’s Day to Serve, training for nonprofit organizations and disaster response volunteer programs.

Before that, she ran the Budget Office for the Michigan Department of Treasury, worked for the Michigan Senate and spent time as a financial analyst in New York.  She has also taught English as a Second Language in Spain and Croatia. She has a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.P.A from the University of Southern California with a concentration in nonprofit management.

She currently resides in Burlington with her family. Despite her wandering past, as a native New Englander she has rooted for the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins all her life.


Tom Torti was appointed President and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce in October of 2006.

Prior to his appointment, Tom served for sixteen years in senior cabinet positions for governors of different political parties. He began his career working with abused and neglected children, their families and with juvenile offenders.

Currently, Tom serves as Chair of the board of The Committee on Temporary Shelter and the Vermont Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Vermont Cancer Center.

In past years, he has been actively involved in the community serving two terms on the Essex Select Board; as Chairman of the Essex Planning Commission, Commissioner for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority numerous other groups.

He received his BA from St. Michael’s College in 1976 and his M.Ed. from the University of Vermont in 1979.


Darren Springer was appointed and confirmed as General Manager in October 2018. Formerly, Darren served as Burlington Electric’s Chief Operating Officer and led the Center for Innovation team which includes the Policy & Planning, Finance, Information Technology, and Energy Services divisions.

Prior to joining BED, Darren served as Chief of Staff for Governor Peter Shumlin. Before working in the Governor’s Office, Darren was Deputy Commissioner at Vermont’s Public Service Department and was the administration lead on the 2014 net metering legislation and 2015 renewable energy standard.

Previously, Darren worked for 4 years in the Washington, D.C. Office of U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders as Senior Policy Advisor for Energy & Environment, and later as Chief Counsel. He has also worked for the National Governors Association as Program Director for Energy and Transportation. Darren has a B.A. from Florida Atlantic University and earned a J.D. and Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. While at Vermont Law School, he was a Managing Editor of the Vermont Law Review and clerked for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is a member of the Vermont Bar, Virginia Bar, and Florida Bar. Darren has also served as a Policy Fellow on Climate Change and Renewable Energy at the University of Vermont Center for Research on Vermont.


April Salas is the Executive Director of the Revers Center for Energy. April comes to Tuck with 15 years of public and private sector experience in global and domestic energy project- and international-development. Starting her career in energy finance, she worked as a consultant in mid-/downstream oil and gas projects in Africa, as well as, an energy markets analyst covering Europe and Latin America.  Mrs. Salas has held various senior positions within the US Department of Energy in power delivery, energy reliability and systems analysis, and just prior to joining Tuck, Mrs. Salas directed the White House’s Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force Secretariat, in conjunction with the Secretary of Energy, and the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy. Domestically, Mrs. Salas served as Director of the State Energy Assurance Program, as well as, Chief of Planning and Analysis for all federal energy emergency response with FEMA. Globally, Mrs. Salas established and led a global energy security advisory program, energy security and systems analysis for DOE’s country-to-country engagements, as well as, US government support to international energy emergency response. Mrs. Salas represented US government energy security interests at NATO, led engagements in Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, and within the EU.
April earned her MBA from Cornell University; two Masters degrees, in International Security and Economics, with a focus on energy poverty and development, and her BA from the College of William and Mary.


Tiana Smith is a recent transplant to Vermont from Fort Collins, Colorado, where she worked the last 12 years in various roles spanning project management, customer accounts and revenue for the City of Fort Collins.  Having spent most of her career in energy efficiency for a municipal utility, her new position as Energy Services Manager for Vermont Gas is both familiar and challenging as she learns a new industry, new partners across energy sectors in Vermont and working within a regulated utility.  Tiana obtained her bachelors from Colorado State University and is a certified Project Management Professional. She is a mother to four children and two St. Bernard/Great Dane dogs and is married to Alex Smith, Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse for St Michael’s College. Tiana’s passion at work is in organizational development and coaching others.  At home, it’s watching her family’s sporting events, reading and spending time at home.


Laural Ruggles MBA, MPH is the Director of Community Health Improvement at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.  Laural has 26 years’ experience in healthcare administration, including medical office operations, marketing, and community health improvement.   She is an active member of NEK Prosper, the Caledonia and So. Essex Accountable Health Community, a collective impact initiative with a mission to improve health and prosperity in the Northeast Kingdom. She brings a personal long-time commitment to environmental issues, stemming from a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (in the 1970’s!).  As a board member of the Vermont Public Health Association, she views environmental and climate issues through a public health and health equity lens, with an emphasis on how communities and individuals can best adapt to the present and future effects of climate change.


Patricia Moulton was appointed President of Vermont Technical College by the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees in March 2017.  Pat served as Interim President from September 2016 to March 2017. Vermont Technical College is part of the Vermont State College System and the only technical college in Vermont. Prior to joining the College, Ms. Moulton served as Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) for Governor Peter Shumlin from June 2014 to September 2016.  Immediately prior to serving as Secretary, Pat was Executive Director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC). Prior to BDDC, Ms. Moulton was the Deputy Secretary and Director of Economic Development of ACCD. Pat has served three other Governor’s as Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, Chair of the Vermont Environmental Board, Commissioner of Economic Development and Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development. She has spent 35 years in the practice of economic and workforce development on the local, regional, and state levels. Pat also ran her own economic development consulting company for several years.  Pat is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in Political Science. She lives in Randolph Center with her partner, James Morrill.


Johanna Miller is the Energy & Climate Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC). Johanna also serves as the coordinator of the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, the statewide network of town energy committees and the partners who support them. In these roles, Johanna works from the grassroots to the Legislature to help advance clean energy and climate action programs and policies. Johanna is a member of Governor Phil Scott’s Climate Action Commission and also serves on the Clean Energy Development Fund board, the Vermont Energy Education Program board, the Vermont System Planning Committee and the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee. Prior to joining VNRC in 2005, Johanna spent five years working as an organizer and policy expert for a statewide environmental policy and advocacy organization in Michigan – the Michigan Land Use Institute. Johanna is a graduate of the University of Vermont and lives in Montpelier; a home base from which she and her family love to ski, hike, camp, bike, garden and travel.


Linda McGinnis is an economist and policy analyst with over 30 years of experience in developing and investing in concrete solutions to sustainable development challenges, both globally and locally.  As a Lead Economist and Senior Manager at the World Bank for 20 years, she led research, policy negotiations and investments in environment, energy, education, agriculture, and health in countries across Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

Since moving to Vermont in 2010 from India (to be closer to aging parents), Linda’s focus has been on state-level climate change strategies, renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and programs. She has provided her expertise across two administrations, serving as Director of Governor Shumlin’s Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, as advisor to the leadership team at the VT Agency for Natural Resources on climate change strategy, as analyst for President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, and more recently as Commissioner for Governor Scott’s Climate Commission.  In 2015, she joined EAN as Program Director, while also serving as co-chair of the Clean Energy Development Fund Board. These roles provided backbone support to help further Vermont’s strategic vision, investment and collective action towards its total energy and climate goals. Upon retirement from EAN in 2018, she became EAN’s first Senior Fellow, and looks forward to supporting EAN in any way she can to further Vermont’s actions to meet its 90% by 2050 goals across all energy sectors.

Linda is also a Trustee and past Board Chair of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and a founding member of the VCRD Climate Economy Council. Locally, she is an active member of the South Burlington Energy Committee and a women’s theater production company (GNOP).  She and her husband Sam have invested in several small solar farms across Vermont, and are the proud parents of three.  She holds degrees from Stanford (BA – International Relations), Princeton (Master in Public Affairs – Development Economics), l’Institut des Etudes Politiques in Paris (Master in Economic Policy) and Harvard Business School (Exec Ed). She is passionate about the future of the planet, of our beautiful state, and the role that each of us plays in ensuring that we do everything in our power to continue to enjoy its beauty.


Geoff Martin is the Energy Coordinator for the Town of Hartford, working to expand the town-wide energy program for the municipality and the community at large. In his role, he is implementing, monitoring, and developing the Town’s five-year Energy Action Plan and Comprehensive Energy Plan. His focus is on reducing energy consumption and overall costs, employing new technologies and best practices, and contributing to a cleaner environment. Geoff came to Hartford after completing his Master’s in Environmental Sciences at Emory University. Geoff’s thesis, “Effectiveness of state climate and energy policies in reducing power sector CO2 emissions”, analyzed the impact of 17 different state-level policies on carbon dioxide emissions, and was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Before attending Emory, Geoff worked as a BPI Certified Home Energy Advisor under the Mass Save program, Massachusetts’ energy efficiency program.


Dave Laforce has been an owner since 1996 and is the creative champion and driver of the vision for Built by Newport which is a furniture manufacturer in Northeastern Vermont.  His passion for building long lasting partnerships both internally and externally is the heartbeat of the company. His story is one that is deeply rooted in the history of the company and therefore provides a wealth of experience and expertise in the wood industry.  Energy efficiency is very important to Built by Newport and their initiatives granted them the 2016 Efficiency Vermont Energy Leadership Award.  Dave currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Community National Bank and is an active participant in the local community.  He lives in Derby with his wife and business partner Julie and they have two teenage sons.


Dr. Tara Kulkarni, P.E. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and the Director of the Center for Global Resilience and Security (CGRS) at Norwich University. She teaches classes on Fluid Mechanics, Environmental Engineering, Water and Wastewater Treatment, Hydrogeology, and Sustainability. Her research interests are in green infrastructure, sustainable water resources management, innovative treatment of nutrients in stormwater and agricultural runoff, and building community resilience. She is also actively involved in K-12 STEM outreach, and community engagement.

Since its launch, Dr. Kulkarni is actively leading several CGRS projects including the coordination of the Resilient Vermont Network, the Dog River Conservancy, the Academic Resilience Collaborative, and newer initiatives in energy resilience and environmental security.

Dr. Kulkarni’s terminal degree is from Florida State University. Her previous professional experience is in state government and management consulting.


Kerrick Johnson is the Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at VEIC. Prior to joining VEIC, Kerrick has been the founding Chief Ecosystem Officer at Utopus Insights and the Vice President for Strategy and Communication at VELCO. Kerrick joined VELCO in 2006 as the company undertook a $1 billion expansion—the largest in its history. He conceived and led VELCO‘s work to secure the nation’s only successful statewide smart grid project through a $68 million DOE investment grant, and spearheaded implementation of a $75 million statewide fiber optic network. Kerrick’s responsibilities expanded to include IT/Telecommunications, leading the company’s operationalization of the fiber network, creation of a statewide radio system, and other bold strategic initiatives. His conceived and led a research engagement with IBM that produced the Vermont Weather Analytics Center, an energy data and analytics platform that lowers weather-related operational costs, increases grid reliability and unlocks the value of renewable generation. This initiative grew into VELCO’s founding ownership and current partnership with the successful energy analytics startup Utopus Insights.

Prior to his 17 years in Vermont transmission and distribution utility work, Kerrick worked for the Vermont Attorney General’s Office as an Investigator for the Consumer Protecting Division and Legislative Liaison. He attended Vermont’s Johnson State College and served four years in the US Air Force as an airborne Russian linguist after having graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.


Justin Johnson joined MMR in 2016, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience working in federal, state, and municipal government in both the United States and Australia, and the respect of both government and business colleagues around the world.

Immediately prior to joining the firm Justin was the Secretary of Administration for the State of Vermont. In addition, he has worked for Democratic and Republican Governors in Vermont as Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources.

Justin served on the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for seven years and is a valuable and trusted source of information and advice for national and international clients seeking to navigate the regulations and policies related to carbon pricing.

Having spent three years as Chief of Staff to a member of the Australian Federal Parliament and as a senior executive at the Mornington Peninsula Shire, a large municipal government in the state of Victoria, Australia, Justin brings a valuable and knowledgeable understanding of international dynamics to our clients.

In 2015 Justin was the winner of the prestigious USEPA Ira Leighton “In Service to States” Award, just the second person to receive this award. He holds a BA (Journalism) from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Phil Huffman is Director of Government Relations and Policy for The Nature Conservancy in Vermont www.nature.org/vermont). He leads the Chapter’s work on state and federal policy advocacy to sustain and enhance Vermont’s lands and waters for nature and people, as well as emerging efforts to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote a clean energy future, and slow the pace of climate change. He has served as co-chair of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition since 2016, and has played a leadership role since 2009 in the Staying Connected Initiative (www.stayingconnectedinitiative.org), an innovative bi-national partnership of nonprofit organizations and government agencies in the U.S. and Canada working to sustain and enhance landscape connectivity in the Northern Appalachian-Acadian region. Phil holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and Master’s degrees from Yale University in both Environmental Studies and Public and Private Management. He considers himself truly lucky to live with his wife, two sons, and the family dog in the Mad River Valley, in the heart of the Green Mountains.


Brian Gray grew up in the northeast kingdom and currently resides in Essex with his wife Nancy and their two dogs. He has served on various boards including Colchester Youth Baseball and Crime Stoppers. An avid hunter and fisherman, Brian also enjoys making maple syrup, gardening and landscaping. Brian joined the Energy Co-op as General Manager in November of 2017. He has over 30 years experience managing Vermont utility and efficiency services. Prior to joining the Co-op he was Energy Services Manager at Vermont Gas, responsible for customer growth, marketing and energy efficiency programs.


Karen Glitman was most recently the Policy Lead for Microgrids at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC). With more than 20 years of policy advocacy and public service experience, Karen came to VEIC in 2011 as its first Director of Transportation Efficiency, and then served as Director of Strategy, Policy, and Public Affairs before serving as the Director of Efficiency Vermont. Prior to joining VEIC, Karen was the Director of the University of Vermont’s National University Transportation Center and interim co-Director of its Transportation Research Center. She served as the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition Coordinator; held the positions of Director of Policy and Planning, Deputy Secretary, and Acting Secretary at the Vermont Agency of Transportation; and served as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Vermont and is a member of the Vermont Bar.


Kate Desrochers is currently the projects and initiatives manager for Packetized Energy, a Burlington company providing distributed energy resource (DER) coordination. Prior to joining Packetized, Kate worked in the Consultative Services division at VEIC, as part of the grid integration and planning team. She provided state agencies and private organizations expert regulatory and deployment support on grid modernization and renewable energy integration, including review and analysis of non-transmission alternative plans for Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, among others.

Kate was also a core team member of the Vermont Solar Market Pathways project, an investigation into the pathway to and impact of high solar penetration in Vermont as Vermont pursues its goal of achieving 20 percent of electrical demand by 2025. Throughout this work, she collaborated with many stakeholders across the state to synthesize potential useful scenarios and examine ways to alleviate the “duck curve” caused by increased solar installation.


Maura Collins is the Deputy Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), where she has worked since 2002. She oversees the Homeownership, Information Technology, Multifamily Development, and Multifamily Asset Management and Compliance Departments. She is responsible for developing successful business plans for each program area as well as maximizing capital resources for VHFA programs and developing new business opportunities. Maura is an advisor on housing policy, homeless and supportive housing efforts, and leads the Agency’s strategic planning and risk management efforts. Previously, Maura was VHFA’s Director of Policy where she was a state and federal legislative liaison and managed the Agency’s research, communications, human resources, and administration departments.

Maura has her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Vermont and serves on UVM’s faculty, teaching a graduate-level Housing Policy course. She is Chair of the Board of Pathways Vermont, a homeless service agency pioneering a rural version of the Housing First model. In 2012, Maura was named as one of the top 40 professionals under 40 years old by Vermont Business Magazine. Prior to joining VHFA, Maura worked at the Technical Assistance Collaborative in Boston, MA, as a housing consultant focused on people with disabilities and people who were homeless.


Nick Charyk is the Communications and Public Affairs Manager at AllEarth Renewables, in Williston, VT.  In this role, Charyk helps bring more efficient renewable energy solutions to market.  His work supports the construction of community wind farms, solar tracker arrays and recent efforts to bring community passenger railroad service to Vermont.  He currently serves on the board of the Vermont Rail Action Network.

A native of Thetford, Charyk returned to Vermont in 2010 to after receiving an undergraduate degree from Harvard University.  In the time since, he has headed up community outreach in support of successful Paid Sick Days legislation, organized childcare workers for the American Federation of Teachers, served as political director of the Vermont Democratic Party, directed Planned Parenthood’s Vermont Action Fund electoral activities in 2016, and managed a host of political campaigns at the local, legislative and statewide level. Charyk lives in Sharon in a solar-tracker powered household with his wife Melissa, their two rescue dogs Clove and Gracie, and a twenty-pound cat named Gus.


Elizabeth Chant is a Managing Consultant at Optimal Energy, Inc., working at the intersection of equity and sustainable energy. In 2018, she left Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), where she was a Principal Consultant on energy efficiency policy and programming for low-income people and multifamily buildings. She was with VEIC for a total of 13 years. Twice, she led the development of winning proposals for VEIC’s DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU), as well as the DCSEU’s recent five-year strategic plan. Elizabeth served for eight years as Weatherization Director at CVOEO, Vermont’s largest provider of Weatherization Assistance Program services. Prior to that, she was at VEIC, leading its award-winning multifamily programming and led low-income multifamily programming during Efficiency Vermont’s early years. Elizabeth currently serves on the boards of directors of the National Housing Trust and ThreeCubed, and has served on the boards of the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition, the Home Performance Council, and Vermont Low-Income Advocacy Council.


Josh Castonguay is the Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive for Power Supply. He makes making power cool. Loves harvesting free energy from the wind and sun and storing it in batteries. He’s a bit of a hoarder that way. Check this out [Tesla Powerwall]. Little known fact: Loves to get behind a drum kit and rock out speed metal.


Olivia Campbell Andersen serves as Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont, the state’s non-profit clean energy trades, advocacy, and education organization.  Prior joining REV, she served as Assistant Chief of Staff to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, advising the Governor on environmental, sustainability, energy, budget, and transportation issues, as well as 6 years at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Prior to her service with the State of Maryland, she worked for Congressman Steny H. Hoyer during his time as Majority Leader. Olivia’s career also includes time with the National Wildlife Federation, during which she worked to reduce mercury and carbon pollution through federal and state regulatory and legislative action, notably authoring and leading the advocacy campaign to enact Maryland’s Healthy Air Act. Olivia holds degrees from Vermont Law School and Gettysburg College.  Maryland’s Governor recognized her environmental advocacy work with the rare Admiral of the Chesapeake award.  When not advocating for the environment, Olivia enjoys exploring rivers and forests, biking rail trails, and digging in the garden with her daughter and husband, with Montpelier as their latest home-base.