University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Energy Transition Lab

Energy Storage Summit Speaker and Moderator List


Mary Powell


Green Mountain Power 

Mary Powell is nationally recognized as an energy visionary, positioning Green Mountain Power as a leading energy transformation company. Mary Powell will be the Keynote Speaker at the Summit and Green Mountain Power was recently featured in this New York Times article for its efforts to rethink carbon-based power systems

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Delivering clean, cost-effective and highly reliable power to customers all across Vermont, GMP offers cutting-edge products and service to reduce costs and carbon.  In 2017, GMP was named one of the top 10 energy companies in the world by Fast Company. GMP has also achieved the top score for mid-sized utilities in the East Region in J.D. Power’s 2016 electric utility residential customer satisfaction study.

Mary has served as president and chief executive officer for GMP since 2008.  She initiated and implemented a strategic and comprehensive restructuring of the company that dramatically transformed GMP, and she has been the backbone of a cultural transformation and service quality improvement.  Fast, fun, and effective is her motto. Under Mary’s leadership, GMP became the first utility in the world to become a member of B Corp, showing a commitment to use energy as a force for good.

Mary has delivered on an ambitious energy vision to provide low-carbon, low-cost and highly reliable power to Vermonters.  As a result, GMP became the first utility to offer to help customers go off-grid, built Vermont’s largest wind farm, made Rutland, Vermont, the Solar Generation Capital of New England, and installed smart grid technology across GMP’s service territory.

In 2012, Mary led the acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service, with a promise to generate $144 million in savings for customers.  GMP has grown from serving 88,000 customers in 2008 to serving over 260,000 customers, with revenues of more than $640 million and $2 billion in assets.

And in 2015, Mary led another partnership with Tesla, with GMP becoming the first utility anywhere to offer customers the Tesla Powerwall battery.

In 2014, Mary was recognized by Powergen as the Woman of the Year, in 2015 The Burlington Free Press named her Vermonter of the Year, in 2016 Fast Company named Mary one of the 100 most creative people in business, and in 2017, Mary was named one of the top 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market by CEO Connection.

Chistopher B. Clark


Xcel Energy– Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota 

Chrisopher Clark is responsable for the strategic plan and financial results of Xcel Energy as well as the company’s customer, community, regulatory legislative and governmental relationships in Minneosta, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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Chris Clark is president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.  Previously he was regional vice president, Rates and Regulatory Affairs.  Clark joined Xcel Energy in the legal department in 1999 and has more than 20 years of experience in energy and regulation.  He serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization People Serving People and is also on the board of directors of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.  Clark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Drake Law School.

George Crabtree


Joint Center for Energy Storage Research 

George Crabtree is Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage (JCESR) at Argonne National Laboratory and Professor of Physics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). 

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He has wide experience in next-generation battery technology and integrating energy science, technology, policy and societal decision-making. He has led workshops for the Department of Energy on energy science and technology, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has testified before the U.S. Congress. 

Ellen Anderson

Executive Director

University of Minnesota Energy Transition Lab

Prior to coming to the Energy Transition Lab, Ellen Anderson served in the Minnesota Senate, was a senior advisor to Gov. Mark Dayton, and served as chair of the MN Public Utilities Commission.

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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; the 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.

Ed Burgess

Senior Manager

Strategen Consulting 

Ed helps to lead Strategen’s utility and government consulting practices. He specializes in evaluation and design of policies and programs to advance deployment distributed energy resources, demand-side management programs, energy storage and grid integration of renewable energy. 

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Ed has served clients in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, including several Fortune 500 companies, major energy project developers, trade associations, utilities, government agencies, universities, and foundations. His analysis has helped to guide regulations and policies in many states across the country and given companies strategic insight into clean energy investment opportunities. Prior to joining Strategen, Ed worked as an independent consultant where he provided technical analysis to a law firm in Arizona, supporting the firm’s clients in cases before the Arizona Corporation Commission. He also worked with Schlegel & Associates to provide technical analysis on demand-side management policies in Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and several other states. Ed also played a lead role in two major initiatives at Arizona State University: The Utility of the Future Center and the Energy Policy Innovation Council where he conducted research and policy analysis for the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy, the Department of Environmental Quality, and other major stakeholders in Arizona. At the Utility of the Future Center, he also worked with utilities and former utility Commissioners across the country to develop a strategic approach and model rules for transitioning to a distributed energy future. Ed earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Princeton University and two degrees from Arizona State University – Master of Science (M.S.) in Sustainability and Professional Science Master (P.S.M.) of Solar Energy Engineering and Commercialization.

Christopher Clack

Founder, CEO

Vibrant Clean Energy  

Dr. Clack is an expert in Renewable Energy, Atmospheric Science, Energy Modeling, Computer Programming, and Optimization. Dr. Clack recently collaborated with the Energy Transition Lab and Strategen Consulting to conduct an analysis of the energy storage opportunities that exist in Minnesota.

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Dr. Clack is the founder and CEO of Vibrant Clean Energy, LLC (VCE) a software and intelligent services company that focuses on optimization techniques and renewable energy integration into the electricity grid. VCE has produced the world’s first continental-scale energy modeling optimization tool that resolves at high temporal- and spatial- resolution. The flagship tool is known as WIS:dom and was built by Dr. Clack from the ground up to simultaneously consider weather-driven renewables, storage, DERs, transmission, and dispatch using big-data. VCE works with industry, government, and academia to accelerate adoption of efficient planning for a shifting energy paradigm. Dr. Clack is an expert in Renewable Energy, Atmospheric Science, Energy Modeling, Computer Programming, and Optimization. Prior to founding VCE, Dr. Clack was a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder working with the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) NOAA for half a decade leading the development of the NEWS simulator. Before that, he was a postdoctoral fellow with the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Clack received his first-class BSc (Hons) in mathematics and statistics for the University of Manchester, UK. He then went on to research applied mathematics and plasma physics at the University of Sheffield, UK. During his PhD, Dr. Clack completed an area of study centered on nonlinear resonance theory within the framework of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) that remained unsolved for twenty years. The theories derived have helped our understanding of the Sun as well as possibilities for fusion reactors, such as ITER. 

Lin Franks 

Senior Strategist, RTO, FERC and compliance Initiatives

Indianapolis Power & Light Company

Ms. Franks has worked towards the creation of appropriate FERC and RTO tariff and business practice rules to incent interconnection of batteries with the grid.

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Ms. Franks is the Senior Strategist, RTO, FERC and compliance Initiatives for Indianapolis Power & Light Company (“IPL), an AES company.  As part of IPL’s active engagement with the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) Stakeholder process, she represents IPL for market, reliability and transmission issues. She has over the past three years worked toward the creation of appropriate FERC and RTO tariff and business practices rules to incent interconnection of batteries with the grid.  She spearheaded integration of the first lithium ion battery, IPL’s Harding Street BESS, into MISO.    She also coordinates the drafting and submittal of comments to FERC for all US AES Entities.

Ms. Franks was the sponsor of and Chairman of the Electric and Natural Gas Coordination Task Force from its beginning in 2012 till September 2015. She previously served as the Chair of the MISO Ancillary Services Task Force and as the Chair of the State Ratemaking Study Group, and the Long-Term FTR and Planning Task Force, the Vice Chair of the Interconnection Process Task Force, the Supply Adequacy Working Group and the Stakeholder Governance Working Group.

Ms. Franks has more than forty years industry experience in the United States and Western European energy industries.  Her electricity experience covers real time operations, transmission and generation planning and more.   She has held both line and officer positions in the electricity and natural gas sectors and contributed to the success of the two most notable natural gas hubs/market centers in the world, Henry Hub and Zeebrugge. Her natural gas experience includes designing and drilling natural gas wells, physical and financial trading of hydrocarbons as well as hub and pipeline operations.  She was a contributing author in a book published by Risk Publication, “The US Power Market” and the March 2000, “Telecommunications Revolution.”  She also contributed to the Energy Publishing Enterprises 2000 publication “Energy Derivatives: Trading Emerging Markets.” 

William Grant 

Deputy Commissioner, Division of Energy Resources

Minnesota Department of Commerce 

As Deputy Commissioner of the Energy Resources Division within the Minnesota Department of Commerce, William Grant oversees Utility Planning and Advocacy, Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization programs, and the State Energy Office.

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Mr. Grant was promoted to Director of the Midwest Office of the Izaak Walton League of America in 1995, and to the position of League Associate Executive Director in 2002.  Mr. Grant directed the League’s advocacy of utility regulatory reform policies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Upper Midwest beginning in January 1992. Mr. Grant was instrumental in the development of several League publications, including Power to Spare in the Upper Midwest, (with Nancy Lange); Energy Efficiency and Minnesota Jobs: The Employment Impacts of Electric Utility Demand-Side Management Programs, The Landowner’s Guide to Wind Energy in the Upper Midwest, and most recently, License to Pollute: Minnesota Coal Plants and the Dirty Power Loophole. Before joining the League, Mr. Grant spent seven years with the Minnesota Department of Public Service, his responsibilities including review of utility conservation plans, integrated resource plans, and certificate of need filings, and interventions before federal regulatory agencies.  Mr. Grant also spent six months on special assignment to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency where he authored, Carbon Fees to Support Minnesota ReLeaf: Implementation Recommendations, a study of the administrative process for collecting a carbon tax on emitters to support a statewide tree planting program. Mr. Grant holds a B.A. in political science and history from Macalester College in St. Paul (1979), and his Masters in Public Administration from Hamline University, St. Paul (1995).

Jessica Hellmann 


Institute on the Environment (IonE) 

Jessica Hellmann provides overall strategic leadership for IonE, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges. 

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Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. She provides overall strategic leadership for the institute, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges while promoting interdisciplinary research, teaching and leadership across the university and engaging external partners and stakeholders. She is also the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences.

Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation. She was among the first to propose and study ways to reduce the impact of climate change through new techniques in conservation management. Hellmann led an important paradigm shift in ecology and natural resource management by showing that adaptation — living with climate change — is just as crucial to the future of humanity and Earth’s ecosystems as slowing and stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Her research and that of her students also has shown that differences in the way populations respond to climate change are key to predicting and managing their future.

Hellmann regularly counsels state and national governments on habitat management, restoration and endangered species conservation so future generations can enjoy the beauty and function of nature as we do today. In addition, building upon her seminal findings in ecology, Hellmann has extended her work on climate change adaptation to human systems, including health, infrastructure, food and water. She works with governments and corporations to build investment in climate change adaptation and co-authored several climate assessment and adaptation planning efforts, including the biodiversity and ecosystem portions of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the 2014 National Climate Assessment. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Great Plains Institute, the Science Advisory Council of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and the Visiting Committee of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources.

Before coming to the University of Minnesota in 2015, Hellmann was on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Biological Sciences. She also served as research director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, which assesses and ranks the vulnerability of nations around the world to climate change and their readiness to adapt to climate change. She continues to collaborate with ND-GAIN as a core research member, mentoring several ND-GAIN researchers based at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere around the country. In addition, she led the climate change adaptation program at Notre Dame’sEnvironmental Change Initiative and directed GLOBES, an interdisciplinary graduate training program in environment and society, among numerous other high-level academic and scientific responsibilities. She also founded Notre Dame’s undergraduate minor in sustainability.

Hellmann earned her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Biodiversity Research. She is an alumna of Stanford’s Leopold Leadership Program and a recipient of a career enhancement fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She became a member of the Notre Dame faculty in 2003.

Hellmann is a frequent contributor to leading scientific journals such as Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, BioScience and PLOS ONE. She serves on the editorial board of the journal Evolutionary Applications, is an associate editor with both Conservation Biology and Elementa, and serves on committees for the Ecological Society of America, the College Board and the National Academy of Sciences.

A skilled science communicator, Hellmann is routinely called upon by leading media outlets around the world such as CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to global change and ways to minimize adverse impacts to people and nature.

Originally from Indiana and Michigan, Hellmann enjoys a wide range of activities, including marathoning, traveling the world, exploring the Midwest, gardening and spending quiet time with her husband and daughter.

Alexandra B. Klass

Distinguished McKnight University Professor

University of Minnesota Law School 

As a Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School Alexandra Klass teaches and writes in the areas of energy law, environmental law, natural resources law, tort law, and property law.

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Her recent scholarly work, published in many of the nation’s leading law journals, addresses regulatory challenges to integrating more renewable energy into the nation’s electric transmission grid, siting and eminent domain issues surrounding interstate electric transmission lines and oil and gas pipelines, and applications of the public trust doctrine to modern environmental law challenges. She is a co-author of Energy Law and Policy (West Academic Publishing 2015) (with Davies, Osofsky, Tomain, and Wilson), The Practice and Policy of Environmental Law (Foundation Press, 4th ed. 2017) (with Ruhl, Salzman, and Nagle) and Energy Law: Concepts and Insights (Foundation Press 2017) (with Hannah Wiseman). Prior to her teaching career, Professor Klass was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis, where she specialized in environmental law and land use litigation. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She was a law clerk to the Honorable Barbara B. Crabb, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. She is a member scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform and a Fellow and Advisory Board member at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. She served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2010-2012. She was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School in 2015.

David Kolata

Executive Director

Citizens Utility Board, Illinois

The Citizens Utility Board has been called the “gold standard of consumer groups nationwide” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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David Kolata started at CUB in 2001 as a senior policy analyst, moving to director of policy and government affairs in 2003.  He was named Executive Director in September 2005. Prior to joining CUB, he was a policy analyst for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, where he focused on transportation and energy issues. David is a 1991 graduate of the University of Notre Dame.  He received a master’s degree in political science from the University of Toronto in 1993, and a Ph.D. in the same subject from Vanderbilt University in 2003. He is a board member of the Illinois Environmental Council. 

Todd Olinsky-Paul

Project Director

Clean Energy States Alliance 

Todd Olinsky-Paul directs CESA’s Energy Storage and Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) project, a federal-state funding and information sharing project that aims to accelerate the deployment of electrical energy storage technologies in the USA.

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As project director for Clean Energy Group (CEG) and Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), Todd Olinsky-Paul directs CESA’s Energy Storage and Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) project. In this capacity, Todd works closely with DOE, Sandia National Laboratory, and numerous state and municipal energy agencies. Todd also works on CEG’s Resilient Power Project, which focuses on behind-the-meter solar+storage for critical infrastructure energy resiliency. His recent work has focused on energy storage technologies, policy, financing, and markets. Todd has an M.S. in Environmental Policy from Bard College and a B.A. from Brown University.
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