University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Energy Transition Lab

Ellen Anderson

Senior Energy Researcher

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.

Aaron Hanson

Energy Transition Lab Energy Program Associate

Prior to college, Aaron earned experience in residential construction, and real estate finance and sales. For the Institute on the Environment, Aaron is the Energy Program Associate, coordinating research projects for the Energy Transition Lab. Recently, Aaron completed a Master’s in the field of Science, Technology, & Environmental Policy, with a Minor in Law from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. While there, he worked as a Research Assistant on projects for Sustainable Healthy Cities in the areas of distributed infrastructure, combined heat and power for district heating, and alternative design for affordable housing. Broadly, his studies focused on the business of sustainability and the implications energy efficiency has on the advancement of a clean energy economy. More specifically, given his background with houses, he took a deep dive into residential energy efficiency and the systems based approach to sustainable buildings. He has lived in Minnesota all his life. In his free time he cares for his pets and garden, and enjoys attending local sporting events. Go Gophers!

Akisha Everett

Energy Transition Lab Energy Storage Project Coordinator

A natural convener and all-around social butterfly, Akisha Everett has found her way onto the Energy Transition Lab team. She is the Energy Storage Project Coordinator for the Energy Transition Lab. She has 15 years of project management experience working in Minneapolis with state and city Health Equity initiatives and performing Non-Profit Management. She is currently a student pursing her degree in Business Management with a minor in Human Resource Management. She proudly lists North Minneapolis as her hometown and firmly believes in the richness and potential of her community. As an engaged community resident, she participates as a board member of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association as well as PRG, Inc., with a focus on creating possibilities for all communities and engaging residents from all neighborhoods.

Heidi Ries

Energy Transition Lab Analyst

Heidi Ries has 20 years of experience working on air quality, climate change and clean energy programs. Her areas of technical expertise include: climate change policy, clean energy options, carbon offsets, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and electric utility financial analysis. Prior to joining the Energy Transition Lab, Heidi managed all aspects of multiple EPA and environmental group consulting projects including marketing, developing and maintaining client relationships, analysis, staffing, budgeting and deliverables. Specific projects involved climate change modeling, state clean energy policies, carbon offsets, international and domestic climate policy, as well as carbon dioxide emissions inventories for an electric utility and US public lands. Heidi enjoys politics, travel and spending time with her family.



Andrew Butts

Energy Transition Lab Graduate Research Assistant

A dabbler by nature, Andrew is never content just doing one thing. Since joining the Energy Transition Lab, he has assisted in both qualitative and quantitative research, continuously improved the ETL website, and produced videos for the Institute on the Environment. Currently pursuing a Master’s in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, with an undergraduate in Operations Management and Communication Arts, he is working towards uniting his passions for analysis, informal education, and systems thinking—which lately, has been directed towards designing policy-themed board games with the Acara Changemakers Lab. At the Humphrey School, Andrew is one of the co-leads of the Gender, Sex, and Policy Events Committee (GSPEC) and this summer helped revive the Twin Cities Chapter of Science for the People. As a first-generation student, raised on the edge of the rural/suburban divide in WI, he identifies with the plight of ordinary folks who worry more about their utility bill than their energy source.


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