National Capital Area Chapter of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics

NCAC Featured Member

 

Profile List

Featured Member

April 2016

 

Janine FinnellJanine Finnell

Founder and Clean Energy Ambassador, Leaders in Energy

 

 

Please note your affiliation and years of experience in the energy and/or environmental field, and any particular achievement/interest in energy/environment you would like to mention.

I am the Founder and Clean Energy Ambassador of Leaders in Energy, a clean energy and sustainability organization. We provide educational, professional networking, and advisory services. I feel very lucky that I found my calling early in my career when I was in graduate school in the Agricultural Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I happened upon the book “Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered,” by the British economist, EF Schumacher. As a result, I became interested in what he called “appropriate technology,” which was more decentralized and accessible to local communities and people. I ended up writing a 250 page Master’s thesis on methane digesters in India that launched me on the energy and sustainability track. I describe myself as a “Clean Energy Ambassador” because of my extensive domestic and international experience which includes working at a state energy office, serving as a Foreign Service Officer for the US Agency for International Development in Nairobi, Kenya and in leadership roles at IBM, DynCorp International, Institute of Energy Analysis, and other management and technology firms.

 

Any particular achievement/interest in energy/environment you would like to mention?

I always liked the Margaret Mead quote −“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” I am proud of founding Leaders in Energy, which started as a small group on LinkedIn, to connect professionals who delight in thinking about, discussing, and collaborating on energy, environmental, and sustainability issues. The group has since morphed into an organization with a mission to build a community of leaders to enable solutions for a more sustainable energy system, economy, and world. We help connect professionals in locating green job and business opportunities and recognize the accomplishments of leaders in all generations, e.g., Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, and World War II, in clean energy and sustainability. We conduct monthly educational and professional networking events in the Washington DC area and identify and collaborate with partners on research and development projects that will result in tangible benefits to further the development of a sustainable energy economy. Another impactful group achievement was a project that I co-led for Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment on promoting environmentally-sustainable landscaping practices in the community, resulting in Arlington County being certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.

 

In your opinion, what are important economic/policy issues facing the energy industry nowadays?

It seems like every day that I read disturbing news about how we are pushing the boundaries of our planetary life support systems. In terms of the energy industry, we are facing important issues such as an aging electric grid, the risk of stranded assets, the need to move towards decarbonized energy sources, and regulatory changes that promote the wider deployment of “distributed” energy resources, such as micro grids, roof-top solar and other on-site power supplies, and storage. Better information and price signals are needed to encourage and enable consumers to use energy more efficiently. As citizens, we also need to examine how we can reduce our carbon footprint. As part of the 2015 Paris agreement, countries have provided pledges known as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs). A related concept that I have written about and coined a name for is “Intended ‘Personally’ Determined Contributions” (IPDCs)” to harness personal commitment and behavioral changes to further accelerate the reduction of emissions.

 

In addition, there are exciting technological developments where prices are coming down, e.g., solar, new innovation in small modular nuclear technology, microturbines, fuel cells, algae production for fuels and carbon absorption, and so many others. So how can we unleash and foster economic transformation that regenerates, rather than destroys the planet, and employs more people in clean energy and clean economy jobs and businesses? I am encouraged by new paradigms related to the Circular Economy, conscious capitalism, ecological economics, the “maker movement,” open source, sustainable manufacturing, integrated systems where buildings produce energy for the grid, etc. to move our society in this positive direction.

 

How long have you been a member of NCAC? Any particular NCAC memory you would like to share with us?

I joined NCAC-USAEE in 2013. One of my fondest memories was participating in a 2-day NCAC-USAEE field trip to tour a coal-fired power plant, wind farm, and coal mine. I met many wonderful professionals on the trip, several of which have blossomed into working relationships and friendships.