Clean Energy Means Business: An Energy Buyers’ Summit, presented by ANB Bank, E Light, and Sunshare features expert speakers from the corporate and clean energy sectors from throughout the Mountain West. Workshop presentations and panel discussions throughout the conference are designed to provide actionable insights for corporate leaders.
Mike Aire is a corporate Director of Environment at Newmont Mining’s corporate office in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Mr. Aire has been with Newmont for over 12 years and is responsible for renewable energy and climate change, water stewardship, and mercury disposition. He previously worked in the semi-conductor industry in Colorado Springs and for the U.S. Department of Energy at Rocky Flats and NREL. He has a Master of Engineering degree in chemical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.S. degree in environmental engineering from Clemson University, and a B.S. degree in environmental engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Mr. Aire is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Colorado.
David Amster-Olszewski founded SunShare in 2011, and serving as chief executive officer, has grown it into one of the leading community solar companies in the nation.
David’s foundational SunShare project with Colorado Springs Utilities was the first competitive community solar program in the nation. In true startup fashion, David executed that project out of his apartment with only the help of interns. Since then, SunShare has relocated to Denver, partnered with two additional utilities in two states, and has almost 100 MWs of projects in its pipeline.
David was featured in Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” in 2016, recognized as a national leader in the alternative energy market.
Prior to founding SunShare, David worked with PowerLight Corporation in Geneva, Switzerland in 2006, and then in California in 2007, completing an executive management training program at SunPower in California until 2010. He has a degree in International Political Economics from Colorado College.
Colorado Hospital Association
Benjamin is the Vice President of Rural Health and Hospitals for Colorado Hospital Association. He provides leadership and direction in the development and execution of the Association’s rural strategies, advocates on behalf of rural hospitals and health systems and works to develop strategic partnerships with organizations that affect the health of rural Coloradans. Benjamin has 20 years of experience in health care and non-profit administration, and is a nationally-recognized leader in health equity and transforming rural health care through an innovative approach to attracting physicians to diverse, underserved areas with a generous paid time off package to be used for international volunteer work. Prior to joining CHA, he spent six years serving as the CEO of Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kan. Benjamin earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and an MBA from Drury University as well as a Master’s of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College.
Caerus oil and gas, llc
Mr. Benton is the Production Manager for Caerus Oil And Gas, LLC. He previously worked as Vice President and General Manager of Black Hills E&P; as Vice President and General Manager for the Rockies Division of Rex Energy; as Vice President for the Western Division of El Paso E&P Corp. in Denver; as Asset Manager for Whiting Oil and Gas Corp.; as CEO of Calver Resources Inc. in Calgary, Alberta; as Chief Engineer and later as Asset Manager for the South Region of ConocoPhillips Canada in Calgary, Alberta; as Production Manager for West Wyoming and West Texas and later as Manager of Acquisitions and Dispositions for Westport Oil and Gas Co. in Denver; and as Operations Manager for Orbis Engineering in Denver.
Mr. Benton also served as a Commissioner on the COGCC for 8 years, and was Commission Chairman for the last 2 years of his tenure.
Benton earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Colorado School of Mines.
Alex Blackmer is a pioneer in the Solar industry, having contracted his first solar array in the early 1990s. As CEO of Solaris Energy Alex has been providing Solar Power Purchase Agreements and tax credit financing for businesses and nonprofit organizations since 2008, deploying over $15MM of investment capital across 47 sites in 7 states. In 2019 Solaris transacted its first portfolio sale, which consisted of 15 AZ projects, to a New York City investment group. Alex and Solaris continue to finance a brighter future.
Independent power systems
Tony Boniface founded Independent Power Systems in 1996 and currently serves as Owner and CEO. He holds a BSEE from the University of Massachusetts and is a licensed Professional Engineer and Master Electrician. He began his professional career working as a reliability engineer for IBM where he learned and applied Six-Sigma quality control methodologies.
That early and strict approach to design and manufacturing standards have been a key influence on his implementation of renewable energy systems.His first introduction to the practical application of using PV technology to power homes came from attending the first solar school, Solar Energy International, in 1992.
His start in the solar energy industry began in 1993 with his employment as a system design engineer for SunWize Energy Systems, one of the first major solar companies in the US. His responsibilities included designing and installing off-grid residential, hybrid power systems for the New York Power Authority to provide power where extending power lines was prohibitive.
In 1996, he started Independent Power Systems (IPS) in Bozeman, Montana to provide off-grid power solutions using solar, wind and propane generator power for homes, water pumping and other remote applications. He was instrumental in educating the state utility, the Montana Power Company, on the virtues of solar energy and was ultimately awarded installation of the first grid-connected solar systems in the state, as well as the country.
Interested in playing a role in the up-and-coming larger solar markets, he expanded IPS operations to Boulder, Colorado in 2006 and then again to Boston, Massachusetts in 2010 concurrent with the launching of those states’ respective solar incentive programs. To date, IPS has installed well over a thousand grid-tie solar systems, hundreds of off-grid solar and wind systems, dozens of grid-tie wind systems, solar and battery backup systems, and generator backup systems.
Petros PACE Finance
John provides PACE funding for Petros PACE Finance, and is lead co-author of the first book on the topic of PACE. In 2018, John consulted for Google X, aka The Moonshot Factory on behavioral data analytics and energy market developments. He serves as President of the Board of New Energy Colorado, (NECO) promoting consumer awareness of renewable energy and policy. He is involved in state renewable policy serving the Board of COSSA (Colorado Solar and Storage Association) for 7 years, 2 as president, and as expert witness in several PUC proceedings and was named to represent solar on Denver’s Green Roof Ordinance Task Force.
Colorado Energy office
Jocelyn Durkay is a Policy Analyst in the Policy Unit at the Colorado Energy Office. In her role, she helps fulfill the Office’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumer energy costs by advancing clean energy, energy efficiency and zero emission vehicles to benefit all Coloradans. Jocelyn supports the Office’s regulatory strategies before the Public Utilities Commission and provides policy research for the CEO’s programs and initiatives. She previously served as a Policy Analyst in CEO’s Low-Income and Residential Energy Services Unit, where she provided policy and regulatory research for the various initiatives her unit, including the state Weatherization Assistance Program, building energy codes, and residential energy efficiency and financing opportunities.
Prior to joining CEO, Jocelyn was a Senior Policy Specialist in the Energy Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which is the nation’s largest bipartisan policy research organization for state legislatures. At NCSL, Jocelyn provided technical assistance on legislative actions and state programs, authored numerous publications and reports, and has been contacted to present on state perspectives and trends in energy policy.
Jocelyn holds a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and a master’s degree from the University of Denver. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Colorado and the West’s mountains and deserts through a range of outdoor activities.
Rocky Mountain Institute
Ned Harvey is a Managing Director at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). He leads RMI’s Program focused on heavy transport and Industry. The program has multiple initiatives focused on aviation; trucking, shipping & freight, mining, and oil and gas. By working directly with these industries, the RMI Industry Program strives to scale energy transitions and climate solutions through market based approaches that reduce carbon emissions and advance a low carbon economy.
Ned’s 10-year tenure at RMI leverages his twenty years of diverse business leadership experience. Prior to leading the Industry Program, Ned led the execution of the institute’s acquisition of the Carbon War Room. Prior positions at RMI include serving as the institute’s Chief Operating Officer, Program Director for the Solar Market Transformation Program and Head of Development.
Ned also founded and led several Renewable Energy Development companies and served as an executive for a global consultancy. In his early career, Ned spent eight years as an officer in the United States Navy, serving aboard nuclear submarines and in the Tomahawk cruise missile program office.
Ned received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego. Ned serves on the boards for the Harvard Business School Club of Colorado and the Colorado Clean Tech Industry Association.
Colorado State University
Jocelyn is the Senior Director of Sustainability and Denver Programs at Colorado State University. She is primarily focused on CSU’s emerging campus at the National Western Center. Jocelyn sits on the Denver Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Council, and works to ensure CSU’s projects are showcases for state-of-the-art sustainability practices. Jocelyn is sits on the Advisory Committee for the Coors Western Art Show and is a technical advisor for the AASHE STARS program, the campus sustainability rating system.
Prior to joining CSU, Jocelyn was the Associate Director of PlaceMatters, a national non-profit think tank based in Denver and focused on informed, inclusive decision making in planning and sustainability. She has also worked for the Orton Family Foundation and Sightline Institute. She has a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Unico Solar Inverstors
Adam Knoff is an associate director and co-founder of Unico Solar Investors, managing the investment, development, and operation of solar energy projects for Unico’s real estate portfolio and outside clients. His responsibilities include identifying and developing solar energy projects, managing the construction of those projects, and promoting the adoption of renewable energy to industry and government leaders.
During his tenure with Unico, Adam has overseen high performance design and operations projects for over 20 million square feet of LEED-certified real estate in addition to launching Unico’s solar energy business platform. Notably, Adam managed the tallest LEED Platinum certification in Colorado at Wells Fargo Center. He has been an innovator in the solar industry, working to develop solar projects typically considered too complex for “traditional” financing and development techniques. He is chairman of the Denver 2030 District working to implement the 2030 Challenge goals in Denver. He is also a sought after participant in various local and national working groups, bringing his unique perspective on cost-effectively incorporating high-performance building strategies in commercial and industrial real estate.
Adam brings his extensive experience and in-depth knowledge in sustainability and energy development to engage the entire project team from start-to-finish. He provides an owner’s perspective that seeks to fulfill a customized, client-driven strategy to reduce operating costs and create healthier and more productive work and living environments.
Thomas Koch Blank
Rocky Mountain Institute
Thomas Koch Blank is an engineer by education, trained in operations and drilled in business acumen at McKinsey & Company. He built the very first ‘McKinsey Marginal Abatement Cost Curve’ in 2005 and spent following 8 years building what would become a full scale Practice (business area) around Sustainability and Resource Productivity. He has broad cross-sector insight in Energy and Climate related opportunities and extensive experience from on-site work with industrial facilities to improve productivity of energy, carbon and other resources, through 100+ site visits globally. His expertise has been built together with clients, applied to specific industrial facilities. Thomas' primary focus on energy intensive industry, mining in particular.
As Head of US Strategic Development for Standard Solar, Mr. Laughlin leads the development of strategic channel partnerships for the company. He has more than 30 years of experience in sales and marketing leadership roles in the renewable energy, construction, high tech and telecommunications industries. Prior to joining Standard Solar, Mr. Laughlin was Director of Sales for Suniva, Inc., a Norcross, Ga., based manufacturer of high efficiency solar cells and modules. Prior to that he was Manager, National Accounts, with SunEdison LLC, a vertically integrated solar power services provider based in Beltsville, Md. Previous positions include Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Partner, Castle Rock Group LLC; Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Strategic Planning, Astrea Systems; as well as Fortune 100 experience with MCI and Sprint. Mr. Laughlin has worked extensively in both domestic and international market development with numerous models of product and service delivery in both emerging and mature market environments. He has a Fine Arts Education, is the recipient of numerous corporate and industry awards, and is a well-known speaker and author of several business articles.
Bob heads up the Energy Lending group at ANB Bank based in Denver, CO. Bob has been with the bank for over 10 years and has been integral in the expansion of the bank's community solar garden loan program. ANB has financed over 50 community solar projects in six states. Prior to ANB, Bob worked in the real estate business for a large life insurance company.
Bob earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University and a BBA from the University of Oklahoma. Bob is active in his local community and serves on the Board of Great Education Colorado.
State of COlorado
Alice Madden has dedicated much of her professional life to implementing forward-leaning policies in myriad areas, including the civil liberties, the environment, and climate policy.
Alice has a background in high-tech and practiced law before running for the State House in 2000. She is considered the “architect of the 2004 Democratic majority” and as Majority Leader, she led the passage of an historic progressive agenda – particularly around clean energy. She went on to become Gov. Bill Ritter’s Climate Change Advisor and was a Climate Fellow at the Center for American Progress in DC. She held the Timothy Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development at CU Denver, was appointed to a high-level leadership position in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Energy, and most recently ran the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at CU Law School.
City and County of Denver
Katrina leads the Buildings Team for the Climate Team in the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. Through the Energize Denver initiative she ensures Denver achieves its climate goals in buildings. Her team leads the City’s benchmarking requirement, portions of the Green Building Ordinance, work towards net zero new construction, and the Smart Leasing Program. Katrina has 15 years of experience working in the building efficiency space and on climate policy.
MEtro west housing solutions
Ryan has spent fifteen years in real estate development, sustainable design, real estate finance, and urban planning, helping to facilitate more than $500 million in transactions. He joined Metro West Housing Solutions in 2010. His roles include new development planning and financing, funding acquisition and grant writing, environmental remediation, and integrating sustainability into new and existing real estate investments and organization operations. Ryan is a LEED AP O+M. He received a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado and a Master of City of Planning and real estate development certificate from the University of Pennsylvania.
Kevin is Vice President of Lever Capital, a leading national C-PACE capital provider with a mission to help real estate owners optimize their assets and provide a positive impact on profit, people, and the planet. With over a decade of experience in renewable energy, Kevin has helped grow innovative companies in the solar and biomass fields. Formerly serving as Vice President of Sales at Clean Energy Collective, Kevin launched his cleantech career by leveraging the skills and experience gained from his 21-year career as an executive in the capital markets and banking industry. Kevin earned his B.A. in Economics from DePauw University and his MBA from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. A resident of Colorado for over 20 years, Kevin loves skiing, hiking, and biking in the mountains with his family. Kevin also serves as Chapter Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), on the Board of Energy Smart Colorado (ESC), and has served as a Chair of the Cleantech Open.
McCarthy building companies
Dhruv Patel has been with McCarthy since 2013. In his role as Vice President, EPC within the company’s renewable energy team, he oversees estimating, design and procurement of equipment and leads supplier and subcontractor selection and negotiation nationally for McCarthy’s renewable projects. Dhruv brings his experience with renewable and conventional power plants, transmission line, and substation design and construction to assist clients considering solar and energy related projects across the country. He has been instrumental in expanding McCarthy’s solar construction resume from 60MW to 1.3GW with projects in 14 states.
Prior to joining McCarthy, he worked for Arizona Public Service for 8 years where he held several key positions within the company’s Distribution & Transmission operations group, Interconnection management and Power Procurement team where he was responsible for negotiating PPAs and tolling agreements with developers. In his most recent position at APS he led the APS’s program to develop and own 200MW of utility scale solar projects, where he was responsible for site identification and acquisition, financial analysis, permit and design management, EPC Contract negotiation, regulatory strategy, capital budget management, and compliance reporting.
Holland & Hart LLP
Rochelle focuses her practice on project development, project financing, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions for clients in the renewable energy and infrastructure sectors. She specializes in mergers and acquisition, representing both buyers and sellers of renewable energy projects, as well as power purchase agreements, representing developers, sponsors and power purchasers in the negotiation and execution of both physical power PPAs and also virtual or synthetic PPAs throughout the United States.
Originally from Coppell, TX, Sean has an undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and a graduate degree from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Banking
Sean has over a decade of experience in the commercial real estate finance and commercial banking space. Prior to Greenworks Lending, Sean was a Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking with ANB Bank, a mid-sized community bank based out of Denver, CO, specializing commercial real estate, C&I, state housing tax credit finance, and most recently, CPACE. Since 2017, he focused his efforts on building awareness of the CPACE/energy efficiency initiative throughout the Mountain West and Texas, and as of 2019 he began his role as the regional Director for Greenworks Lending.
Laura is the Campus Energy Project Manager for the National Western Center implementing district thermal and campus power solutions. She works with the selected Energy Partner, EAS, to propose a waste-water heat recovery system which would both heat and cool the campus buildings and with Xcel on renewable and resiliency strategies. Laura is a mechanical engineer who works on all facets of building energy consulting: master plans, energy audits, and commissioning. She was also the energy engineer for several years for the US Antarctic Program including a winter-over season at the South Pole Station as the facilities manager.
Colorado springs Utilities
John Romero is a 29-year utility executive with an extensive record developing and overseeing innovative, ground-breaking strategic business and engineering solutions that have helped shape the future landscape of the Utility industry. John oversaw the creation of the first open-market community solar program in the United States. John is recognized as an expert in engineering, long-term planning, design, commissioning, delivery and oversight of mission critical long-term assets. He has presented his Future Vision of the Electric Utility Industry as the keynote speaker at multiple national symposiums. John also served as a member of the Governor’s Smart Grid Task Force and has presented nationally on a variety of panels, roundtables, and executive steering committees. John has overseen numerous areas within Colorado Springs Utilities in both the Water and Energy Divisions such as control center operations, construction, power and gas system strategic planning, renewables, energy efficiency, smart grid strategies and engineering. John currently oversees the Water Construction and Wastewater Collection and Treatment functions for Colorado Springs Utilities where he serves as the General Manager of Distribution, Collection and Treatment. A Colorado native, John is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Finance
Ian Skor received his bachelors of environmental resources engineering from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he realized his passions for creating a rich outdoor environment by using sustainable practices through the built environment. Ian passed his Professional Engineer examination in 2018 in Mechanical and Thermal Engineering. Ian co-founded Sandbox Solar in 2015 from scratch and has since grown it into a market leader in solar energy and battery installations of Northern Colorado. In 2017, Ian began pilot research with Colorado State University to explore agrivoltaics, the practice of co-locating agriculture and solar energy on the same area. This has lead to USDA SBIR funded research to expand market opportunities and implementation of agrivoltaics, thus promoting continued success of local agriculture and clean energy production in a sprawling environment.
Tyler Smith works as an Area Manager, on the Community and Local Government Affairs team at Xcel Energy. In his current role, Tyler manages the Company’s relationships with the City and County of Denver. On a daily basis he provides a bridge between the Company and the Mayor, City Council, and all of the Departments within Denver's city government. Working collaboratively, he helps the City to meet and surpass all of their energy goals.
Tyler holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Denver and a Bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University in Political Science and Journalism.
A fifth generation Coloradan, Tyler enjoys spending time outdoors and loves watching any of Denver's local sports teams.
Dara Ward is a Product Developer at Xcel Energy on the Commercial & Industrial Customer Solutions team. She focuses on renewable energy programs and offerings that will help customers meet carbon reduction and sustainability goals. Prior to Xcel Energy, Dara was the Energy & Sustainability Manager at St. Vrain Valley School District for over 6 years where she implemented energy efficiency and sustainability measures, installed on-site renewables, and developed a behavior conservation program. Dara is a Certified Energy Manager and a Renewable Energy Professional and has a master’s degree in Energy Management from Columbia University.
Ali started her career working as a Surface Landman in the DJ Basin for a large E&P oil and gas company, focusing on horizontal well development near municipalities. In 2016, Ali left the oil and gas sector to work in renewable energy as the Senior Project Development Manager for Silicon Ranch Corporation, a top ten Independent Power Producer and Royal Dutch Shell’s platform for solar development for the United States. Ali’s primary focus is development in the Rocky Mountain region but has also developed many projects in the Southeast.
David Wright Vice President Preconstruction LEED AP BD+C
As Vice President of Preconstruction, David’s responsibilities include leading E Light’s Preconstruction services, as well as maintaining excellent client relationships and seeking new opportunities. He provides oversight along with innovative budget and constructability solutions for the company’s complex design-build and design assist projects.
A Journeyman Electrician and LEED Accredited Professional with a degree in business management, David started as an apprentice in the field and has been involved with nearly every aspect of project delivery. His time in the field gave him hands-on knowledge and “a genuine appreciation for the hard-working professionals” that make each project successful. He remains excited by the challenges and opportunities the construction industry presents. David has been responsible for the development of 1.9 GWs of solar projects throughout the United States, and has played an instrumental role in the growth of solar for E Light Electric.
Michelle Zimmerman is the Head of US Development for Lightrock Power. She is responsible for project development including site acquisition, entitlements, community engagement, utility communications and market strategy. Prior to joining Lightrock Power, Michelle worked as a Project Developer for utility and community scale solar in the Mountain West for five years. From 2007-2014, Michelle was the VP of Operations at a residential and commercial scale solar installation company where she focused on power purchase agreement negotiations and solar development for local governments. Before working in the solar industry, Michelle was the executive director of two nonprofit organizations focused on land conservation and she currently serves as the Chair of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. Zimmerman earned an Executive MBA from the Daniel’s College of Business at the University of Denver in March of 2016.