Roundtable Speaker Biographies 2021

Roundtable: Policy

Will McNamara (Moderator)
Sandia National Laboratories

Will McNamara serves as Grid Energy Storage Policy Analyst for Sandia National Laboratories with a focus on energy storage policy development at the federal and state levels. Will has spent his entire 23-year career in the energy and utilities industry with a concentration on regulatory and legislative policy. He has served as a lobbyist in California and has represented major utilities across the U.S. in numerous jurisdictions in proceedings pertaining to integrated resource planning, procurement, cost recovery, rate design, and the development of policymaking best practices. Will’s areas of subject matter expertise, in addition to energy storage policy, include distributed energy resources, AMI/smart grid, renewables, and competitive retail markets.

Randel Pilo
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Mr. Pilo serves as the Director of the Bureau of Energy Markets and Electric Infrastructure BEMEI, in the Division of Energy Regulation and Analysis at the PSCW. He oversees activities affecting Wisconsin either from an electric generation\transmission perspective arising out of MISO wholesale energy market issues or utility or merchant construction applications. The BEMEI is comprised of engineers, economists, and policy and planning analysts. He brings 30 years of practical experience working in a multidisciplinary fashion on the regulatory side of utility economic issues with Commissioners from both major political parties, as well as numerous electric sector stakeholders from a variety of organizational interests. Mr. Pilo has a BA in Economics, Phi Beta Kappa, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee; MA and all PhD requirements except doctoral thesis in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Joan White
Vermont Public Service Commission

Joan White is a Hearing Officer and Analyst with the Vermont Public Utility Commission. With 10 years of experience in the energy sector, Joan has worked on renewable energy policy and program design, legislative affairs, economic regulation, and long-range modeling. At the Vermont PUC, she works on grid modernization and distributed energy resources as well as rate making. She brings an interdisciplinary lens to complex problems in the energy sector as she holds a Master’s of Science, a Master’s of Environmental Law and Policy, summa cum laude, and a certificate in Energy Law. Prior to her career in energy, Joan worked in Russian area studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Harvard University. She holds a Bachelor’s in Russian, International Relations, and Economics. She lives outside Montpelier, Vermont with her husband and two sons.

Molly Knoll
Maryland Public Service Commission

Ms. Knoll graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maryland School of Law. After her clerkship she spent 5 years with the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel. She joined the Maryland Commission in 2018 as a Senior Commission Advisor. Her portfolio includes grid modernization, Time of Use and Storage pilots, reliability, supplier issues and rate cases.

Roundtable: The Convergence of Equity & Resilience

Bobby Jeffers (Moderator)
Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Robert “Bobby” Jeffers is a Systems Scientist and Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he applies system dynamics and power engineering principles to diverse problems concerning the intersection between social, natural, and engineered systems. Dr. Jeffers has a history of working with a wide variety of stakeholders such as states, municipalities, electric utilities, the military and other community representatives to develop long-term, holistic solutions to resilience, sustainability, and affordability challenges. Currently, he leads a portfolio of projects that utilize Sandia’s broad expertise in energy system modeling and simulation, such as the Designing Resilient Communities project that focuses on aligning community resilience strategies with electric utility investment planning processes. Prior to his time at Sandia, Dr. Jeffers worked at Idaho National Laboratory as an Energy and Environmental Systems Modeler and Power and Controls Researcher. Dr. Jeffers earned his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Power Systems from Virginia Tech, and his doctorate in Environmental Science from Washington State University.

Bethel Tarekegne (Co-Moderator)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Bethel Tarekegne is an energy equity researcher in the distributed systems group at PNNL. Her work focuses on understanding the social equity implications of distributed energy resources. She is currently exploring the equity/justice implications of energy storage for the DOE – OE’s Energy Storage Program to imagine the ways energy storage can benefit people in underserved communities. Bethel’s work set the framework for applying energy justice principles to storage technologies and she is now investigating how storage can provide local non-energy benefits by developing fundamental data and metrics to measure these benefits. Bethel received her doctorate in Energy & Environmental Policy from Michigan Technological University. She also holds a master’s degree in Energy Policy from University of Maryland, College Park, and bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Benedict College.

Christina Nichols

Chris Nichols has driven innovation in clean energy programs and policies in Federal, non-profit and for-profit organizations. She directed Groundswell’s “Breaking Barriers” project to design two solar+storage resiliency centers in Atlanta, serving West Atlanta’s low-income community and the HBCUs within the AUCC. Chris currently manages the LIFT research program for Groundswell, a three-year effort to accelerate clean energy services for low-income households supported by the DOE Solar office. LIFT develops low-income solar financing and customer experience solutions based on data from hundreds of active community solar programs. Previously, Chris served as the workforce director for the US Department of Energy’s Jobs Strategy Council – Office of the Secretary and led market transformation efforts in DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, including creating the national Solar Ready Vets workforce training program and managing solar economic research from the national labs.

Roundtable: Tribal Energy

Roundtable: Long Duration Energy Storage

Scott Litzelman (Moderator)

Dr. Scott Litzelman currently serves as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). His focus at ARPA-E includes carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy storage, integration of renewables with the grid, fuel cells, and energy efficiency. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Litzelman served as a Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for the Materials Research Society and The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society. During his time on Capitol Hill, he drafted legislation for the 2018 Farm Bill to increase soil organic carbon levels for crop resiliency and carbon sequestration. He also researched potential legislation related to electric buses, electric vehicle charging stations, and floating offshore wind turbines. Before working on public policy, Dr. Litzelman supported ARPA-E as a Senior Lead Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton. In that role, he advised the agency’s program directors, researched potential program areas, facilitated technical workshops, and helped manage 40 projects over 8 programs. Dr. Litzelman earned a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jesse Jenkins
Princeton University

Jesse D. Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. He is a macro-scale energy systems engineer with a focus on the rapidly evolving electricity sector and leads the Princeton ZERO Lab, which focuses on improving and applying optimization-based energy systems models to evaluate low-carbon energy technologies and generate insights to guide policy and planning decisions. Jesse earned a PhD and SM from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was previously a postdoctoral environmental fellow at Harvard University.

Roundtable: Storage Supply Chain Challenges

Benjamin Shrager (Moderator)
DOE Office of Electricity

Benjamin Shrager is an engineer with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity – Advanced Grid Research & Development, working on and managing project related to the future of the electric grid. Specific areas of interest and project focuses include: applying grid architecture principles to prepare for future R&D needs, analyzing the potential and cost-benefits of grid-enhancing technologies such as dynamic line rating and power flow controllers, evaluating energy storage technologies across application areas and R&D pathways, and considering the impact of supply chain and critical materials on technologies such as advanced conductors and energy storage. Previously, Benjamin received his B.S. and M.S. from Case Western Reserve University in Systems & Control Engineering. For his M.S., Benjamin was a DAGSI Award grant recipient, working with the Air Force Research Laboratory on a project to optimize hybrid electric power systems.

Max Hickey

Max Hickey is a Business Development Associate at Li-Cycle, responsible for managing the company’s incoming battery supply, with a focus on energy storage and e-mobility. He specializes in enabling the adoption and scale of clean technology and has over four years of experience in strategy, innovation, and business development. Before joining Li-Cycle, Max worked as part of the Partner Solutions Group at the MaRS Discovery District, where he was responsible for product management and strategy. He also has experience working as an engineer, market analyst and consultant, and co-founded Evocco, an app to empower consumers to reduce the environmental impact of food. Max holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Trinity College Dublin, Australia.

Michael Sanders
Avicenne Energy

Michael Joined the Avicenne team in May of 2016 as a Senior Advisor. Avicenne is a team of Advisors and Consulting professionals for providing market understanding, research and consulting for the energy storage market. The focus of the activity is to support clients with their efforts in battery materials and providing market context for companies to establish their growth and development plans. Mike is the US leader in Batteries and Materials and is responsible for proprietary projects supporting customers growth efforts, completing the interviews, writing the reports and mainly solicited for his knowledge on the US market. Recent projects have been conference presentations and tutorials, strategy workshops for various levels of the energy storage value chain, market analysis for various types of rechargeable batteries, market connections and validation of opportunities for battery and materials companies and supporting merger & acquisitions.

Roundtable: Supporting Decarbonization & Electrification

Tom King (Moderator)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Thomas J. (Tom) King, Jr. is the Director of the Sustainable Electricity Program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. He is responsible for leading, coordinating and implementing ORNL’s research and development portfolio conducted within the DOE’s the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The diverse R&D portfolio consists of renewable energy integration, grid modeling and analysis, systems integration, advanced components & materials and energy security. In 2012, Mr. King took on a joint role with the University of Tennessee, where he serves as the Director of Innovation & Industry for the NSF/DOE Engineering Research Center, CURENT. The Center focuses on wide area situational awareness and wide area controls of the electric grid. Prior to joining ORNL, Tom was employed at Progress Energy where he held various management positions in the fossil generation area. He also was a program manager at DOE working in areas of distributed energy and industrial technologies. He holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University and an M.S. in Materials Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also received a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee.

Ted Miller
Ford Motor Company

Ted Miller is Manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. His team is responsible for Ford global electrification subsystem and power supply research, delivering battery system design innovations in advanced cell technology, packaging, thermal, EDS, EMC, charging, power conversion, and energy management and modeling. They provide subject matter expertise from raw materials to end-of-life recycling. The team also leads collaboration with university, industrial, and National Lab partners. Mr. Miller is past chairman of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, the Idaho National Laboratory Strategic Advisory Committee, and the University of Michigan Energy Institute External Advisory Board.

Roundtable: Energy Storage Integration

Charlie Vartanian (Moderator)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Charlie Vartanian is a Technical Advisor at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where he focuses on integration of energy storage with power systems. Charlie has 25 years of industry experience deploying advanced grid technologies, performing system studies, and contributing to standards development. Prior employers include Mitsubishi Electric, the California Energy Commission, and Southern California Edison. During his 15 years at SCE, his activities ranged from T&D planning through grid R&D.

Steve Willard

Steve Willard currently serves as a Technical Executive in the Utilization/Energy Storage area of the Electric Power Research Institute. Previous positions include Project Manager for Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s (PNM) Advanced Technology Department where he was the Principal Investigator for PNM’s Prosperity Energy Storage Project, Product Support Manager for Honeywell Power Systems, Lecturer in the US Peace Corps and Computer Applications Engineer at Bridgers and Paxton Consulting Engineers Inc. He has more than 37 years’ experience in the energy industry in regulated and unregulated markets, including product development and support, energy system engineering and analysis as well as energy industry market research. He has served in various advisory roles including the DOE/EPRI Energy Storage Handbook Advisory Committee and is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Storage Association. Steve holds 3 US Patents, BSME and MBA degrees, both from the University of

Mike Ropp
Sandia National Laboratories

Michael Ropp received the Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991, and the Masters and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1996 and 1998, respectively, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. He is presently a Principal Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM. Dr. Ropp has over 22 years of experience in research and education in power engineering, power electronics, and photovoltaics. He has authored over 100 technical publications and is a named inventor on seven patents. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and is active in standards creation, and is a registered Professional Engineer in South Dakota and Hawaii. His primary technical interests are in the planning, design, modeling and simulation, control, dynamics, protection, reliability, diagnosis and event analysis of low-inertia, distributed and inverter-dominated power systems; off-grid power systems planning (“sizing”), design, control, protection; power electronics, especially solid-state transformers; and electrified transportation. Dr. Ropp is passionate about the education of future electrical engineers and engages in education, mentorship and outreach whenever possible. He does occasionally still get to use his musical skills.

Hawk Asgeirsson
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Hawk is active in IEEE Power and Energy Society standards development work. He is one of the working groups lead developing the IEEE P1547.9 Guideline on interconnecting energy storage to the electric power system and participating in several IEEE 2030 standards development related to the management of electric vehicle interaction to the electric power system. Hawk has also been participating in Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards work updating SAE standards for V2G functionality and is a member of the IEEE SCC21 Standards Coordinating Committee. Hawk retired after a 37-year career at DTE Energy as the Manager of Power Systems Technologies. In that position, he was responsible for deploying Distributed Energy Resources (DER) into the T&D planning and operating process, managing all DER interconnections and grants related to plug-in electric vehicles, energy storage and the effect of distributed resources interconnecting to the electric grid. Hawk was also instrumental in demonstrating and implementing low cost smart grid sensor into the distribution system using a Distributed Energy Distribution Management system (DERMS) to supplement traditional SCADA system. Upon his retirement, his group had deployed enough sensors to provide 100% monitoring coverage of the electric distribution system. Hawk is a graduate of The University of Michigan with a Master’s in Engineering with a focus in Electric Power Engineering.

Paul Leufkens
Southern Research

Paul Leufkens leads the Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage Testing program in Birmingham AL. He provides third-party testing and consulting services for the energy industry. Paul has 25+ years of international experience in the power industry working in capacities ranging from R&D management of cables and switchgear to general management of ultra-high voltage and energy storage laboratories to consulting services and business development. Prior to joining Southern Research, he was president and founder of Power Projects Leufkens, providing consultancy to manufacturers, utilities and test & certification institutions worldwide. He led business development for new High-Power labs in Asia and the Middle East. He worked also with the ESTA International team in a 9-month project to prepare detailed planning and procurement for the $5 million implementation of a Smart Grid Test Bed project at CPRI Bangalore.

Last Updated: 10/29/2021