University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Energy Transition Lab

Ellen Anderson

Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab

Portrait: Ellen Anderson

From 2012 to 2014, Anderson was senior advisor on energy and environment to Gov. Mark Dayton and assisted the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board on energy and environmental issues. Anderson helped coordinate state climate change planning, led the implementation of Gov. Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32, including organizing the EQB’s Minnesota Environmental Congress, issuing Minnesota’s Environment and Energy Report Card, and initiating and drafting the EQB’s Minnesota and Climate Change: Our Tomorrow Starts Today report.

In March 2011 Gov. Dayton appointed Anderson chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, where she served until early 2012.

Anderson served in the Minnesota Senate from 1993 to 2011 and was re-elected five times, representing several neighborhoods of St. Paul and the city of Falcon Heights.  She chaired the Jobs, Energy and Community Development Committee; the Commerce Committee; the Energy and Telecommunications Committee; and the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Finance Committee. Her signature legislation includes the Renewable Energy Standard, the Community Based Energy Development law, the Next Generation Energy Act, and many other energy and consumer protection laws, including a law raising the minimum wage; cthe Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment (co-author); the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act; and the first law in the nation, now in federal law, protecting nursing mothers in the workplace.

Anderson holds a B.A. from Carleton College and J.D. cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School. She was an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan State University and the University of Minnesota, teaching courses in law, energy, and sustainability. She has served in numerous leadership and community volunteer positions and received dozens of awards for her leadership in energy, environment, and economic and social justice. Most recently, Anderson received the 2013 Ecological Society of America Regional Policy Award for Informing Policy with Ecological Science and served on the advisory committee for the 2014 Midwest Innovation Summit. She currently serves as a member of the Citizens League Electrical Energy Study Committee, an observer to the e21 project on new utility business models, and the advisory boards for the U of MN Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology and the Will Steger Foundation.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, travel, gardening, bicycling, hiking and the great outdoors.

Barb Jacobs

Energy Transition Lab Project Manager

Barb is the Project Manager for the Energy Transition Lab, focusing on energy storage and other ETL work. Barb previously served as Committee Administrator for the Minnesota Senate’s Environment and Energy Policy and Finance Committee, where she helped draft and pass dozens of bills to further Minnesota’s legacy of natural resource stewardship and clean energy leadership.  She helped to pass the most significant Minnesota energy policy since 2007, in the 2013 omnibus energy bill which enacted a solar energy standard, the community solar gardens program, and a new Made in Minnesota solar program; expanded Minnesota’s IRP statute to provide greater weight to renewable energy, updated Minnesota’s net metering laws, reinvigorated the Legislative Energy Commission, directed the state to create a framework for becoming the first state in the nation to be fossil-fuel-free, and much more.  In her 8 years at the Legislature, she also worked on health care, poverty and “good government” policy.  Her diverse work history also includes titles such as communications and media specialist, oyster farmer and flight attendant.  Barb has a BA in English and Arts History from the University of Minnesota.


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The Energy Transition Lab is a strategic initiative of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in partnership with the Law School.
Funding for the Energy Transition Lab is primarily provided by the Institute on the Environment. Other funders include McKnight Foundation, Energy Foundation, Carolyn Foundation, US Department of Energy, Wind Energy Foundation and the University of California Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute. Support for energy storage work is provided by the Minneapolis Foundation, Great River Energy, Mortenson Construction, AES Corporation, Next Era Energy Resources, and General Electric. Funders have no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of any manuscript.