Get Out in Front of the Mob and Call it a Parade: What Electric Utility Executives and Those Who Regulate Them Can Do To Accelerate Adoption of Clean Energy

Session 7: April 19, 4:00-5:30pm, M-RCBG Conference Room, Belfer 503

Session 8: April 24, 4:30--6:00pm, Deland Room, Littauer 332

Session 9: April 27, 4:30-6:00pm, WAPPP Cason Room, Taubman 102

Session 7: April 19--A Clean Energy Success Story: One Woman’s Road to Reinventing Vermont’s Largest Utility

The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Women and Public Policy Program present:A Clean Energy Success Story: One Woman’s Road to Reinventing Vermont’s Largest Utility.

This is Session 7 of the series Get Out in Front of the Mob and Call it a Parade: What Electric Utility Executives and Those Who Regulate Them Can Do to Accelerate Adoption of Clean Energy. The series is led by John DeVillars, Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Green Mountain Power has been hailed as a national example of the next generation utility. By helping its customers go off-grid, forging alliances with Tesla and NRG, investing in wind and solar, and focusing on customer service Green Mountain is charting a course for other utilities who aspire to lead the way to a new clean energy economy. The architect of that strategy will meet with our study group to share her thoughts on what has been achieved to date and what’s next for GMP and the electric utility industry.

 Guest: Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power

Mary Powell headshot.

Mary Powell is nationally recognized as an energy visionary, positioning Green Mountain Power as a leading energy transformation company.  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.

In 2014, Mary announced a new partnership with NRG Energy, Inc. to make Vermont a leader in sustainable energy.  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, and in 2016, Fast Company named Mary one of the 100 most creative people in business.

The following links provide further context for this study group session:


Session 8: April 24--Making Electric Utilities Greener: Electric Vehicles, Performance Incentives, and Low Income Affordability
Our honored guests on April 24 will arguably be the most-honored of all of our guests this year: the Research Assistants with whom John has been working on Electric Vehicle Adoption (Jeffrey Bryant, Benjamin Luxenberg, and Jennifer Hatch), Low-Income Access to Clean Energy (Elizabeth Hanson); and Performance Based Incentives (Elise Harrington and Ali Nadeem). The students leading each of these projects will make 15 minute presentations on their work to date; the remainder of the time will be devoted to discussing the students' work while consuming pizza, soda and other delicacies. We hope you will be able to make this session. It has been a fun and informative series of study groups and it will be good to celebrate the end of the semester - and some terrific work by the students - with all of you.

The following links provide further context for this study group session:


Session 9: April 27--The Electric Utility of the Future

This is Session 9 of the series Get Out in Front of the Mob and Call it a Parade: What Electric Utility Executives and Those Who Regulate Them Can Do to Accelerate Adoption of Clean Energy. The series is led by John DeVillars, Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Peter Fox-Penner, the author of Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities, and a leading thinker on the economic, political and social dynamics that are driving reinvention in the utility sector. Peter is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and was formerly a Principal at the Brattle Group where he advised utilities. Peter brings a breadth of experience to his work including serving as a senior advisor to Democratic Presidential candidates since 1992 and in his current role as Chief Strategy Officer at Energy Impact Partners, a clean energy investment fund investing on behalf of leading utilities in the United States and abroad. Peter will share his thinking on what electric utilities will look like in ten years and how they will get there.


Peter Fox-Penner headshot.

Peter Fox-Penner is a Professor of Practice in the Questrom School of Business and the Director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.  His research and writing interests are in the areas of electric power strategy, regulation, and governance; energy and climate policy; and the relationships between public and private economic activity, including corporate social responsibility.  He is the author of Smart Power, a book widely credited with foreseeing the future transformation of the power industry now used and cited all over the world, as well as other books in this area.  He also teaches courses on sustainable energy and electric power in the Questrom School of Business.  The work of the BU Institute for Sustainable Energy and Peter’s projects through the Institute can be viewed here.  In addition, since 2014 he has been a Senior Policy Scholar at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.

Peter has led a career that includes leadership in academia, government, and the private sector.   From 1996 through 2015, Peter was a Principal specializing in energy and regulated industry matters at The Brattle Group, where he remains an Academic Advisor.   During his time there, Peter was on the firm’s Executive Committee, directed the Washington Office, and then became the firm’s longest-serving Chairman.  During his tenure at the firm he helped the Brattle Group grow from a small regional consulting boutique into a globally-recognized brand with offices all over the world.  He also played an integral role in designing a unique corporate governance framework by which the firm has become an intergenerational, self-governed, privately-held firm.  During this period his work was quoted as authoritative in a Supreme Court Decision and he participated extensively in litigation involving Enron and the California electricity crisis.

From 1994-1996 Peter was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy unit (EERE) and a Senior Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  Among other duties during this period, he led policy and budget formulation at EERE, implemented the largest part of the first official U.S. Climate Change Action Plan and the path breaking Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle, represented the U.S. government in California’s power deregulation and parallel federal efforts, and defended the federal government against the unsuccessful 1994 shutdown.

Since 1996, Peter has also been actively engaged in outside business and civic activities.  He currently serves as Chief Strategy Advisor to Energy Impact Partners, as a board member of an energy efficiency company, Lighting Retrofit, Inc., and as an advisor to EOS Energy Storage.  He has previously been on the board of, or been an Advisor to, The Solar Foundation, the Center for National Progress, the Brookings Institution Energy Program, the United Nations Foundations, the Energy Foundation, the Global Energy Group, Gridpoint, and other groups.   In 1977, Peter co-founded one of the original anti-nuclear-power U.S. groups, the Prairie Alliance and in 2000 he co-founded Environment 2004, an environmental political group that was subsequently merged into the League of Conservation Voters.  He has also been a policy advisor to numerous presidential campaigns. 

Peter’s outside interests include music and sound recording. He is a rank amateur R&B and jazz drummer and the founder of a series of sound recording studios that have become Pogo Records.

The following links provide further context for this study group session:



Session 6: Clean Energy – A View from “The Swamp”

March 23, 4:30-6:00pm, IOP Conference Room, Littauer Building, Room 275

The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Institute of Politics Present:
A View from” The Swamp.” Kevin Knobloch will share his thoughts on the past, present, and future of national clean energy policy


Kevin Knobloch headshot.

Kevin Knobloch, Former President of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Energy

Kevin Knobloch recently completed a nearly four-year Obama Administration appointment as a Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Energy.

As lead senior aide to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Kevin led the Agency’s efforts to fully implement DOE’s elements of the President’s Climate Action Plan, including finalizing some 50 economy-wide energy efficiency rules for appliances, electronics, heating-cooling systems and lighting; modernizing the electricity grid; advancing bio-energy; implementing the clean energy Loan Program, and deploying advanced vehicle technology. He coordinated DOE’s efforts at the United Nations Conference of the Parties 21 climate negotiations in Paris (2015); Clean Energy Trade Mission in China (2015); Clean Energy Ministerials in Seoul (2014), Mexico (2015) and San Francisco (2016); U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Ministerial in Ethiopia (2014); and energy-focused trips to Algeria, Brazil, Paraguay, India, China and Japan.

Prior to his service at DOE, Kevin was President of the Union of Concerned Scientists for 10 years, from 2004-2013 where he provided strategic vision and leadership to a national nonprofit science-based organization combining scientific analysis, policy design and advocacy to address climate change, clean energy and clean vehicle technologies, sustainable agriculture, scientific integrity, nuclear reactor safety and nuclear weapons. During his tenure at UCS he served as chair of the Green Group, a coalition of the CEOs of 32 national environmental organizations, and served as co-chair of the Green Group Climate and Energy Committee for seven years.  He led UCS delegations to the United Nations International Climate negotiations in Montreal in 2005, Bali in 2007, Poznan in 2008, and Copenhagen in 2009.

During six years on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, Kevin was the legislative director for U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth (D-CO) and legislative assistant and press secretary for U.S. Representative Ted Weiss (D-NY).

He later served as director of conservation programs for the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston. He began his career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, writing for several Massachusetts publications.

His Board service includes the Advisory Board of the New England Forestry Foundation and eight years on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and ten years the Environmental League of Massachusetts Board of Directors. He is also cofounder and former president of the Arlington (MA) Land Trust.

Kevin holds a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, with a focus on natural resource economics and environmental management, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he concentrated in English and journalism.


The following links provide further context for this study group session:


Session 5: Sausage Making: The Art of Passing Clean Energy Legislation
March 9, 4:00-5:30pmLittauer Building, Room 275

Off-shore wind is coming to Massachusetts. Big time. What it took to make it happen.

The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Institute of Politics present: 
Sausage Making - The Art of Passing Clean Energy Legislation. A Case Study in Success: How Massachusetts Is Becoming #1 in Off-shore Wind Generation in the U.S.

This is Session 5 of the series Get Out in Front of the Mob and Call it a Parade: What Electric Utility Executives and Those Who Regulate Them Can Do to Accelerate Adoption of Clean Energy. The series is led by John DeVillars, Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

 In the summer of 2016 the Massachusetts Legislature passed and Governor Baker signed into law the Omnibus Energy Bill which requires Massachusetts utilities to purchase 1600MW of electricity from wind farms to be constructed off the coast of Massachusetts over the next 6-8 years. This will be the largest portfolio of off-shore wind projects in the country and represents the most significant advance in wind energy development in the United States since the creation of the wind energy production tax credit 25 years ago. The architects and engineers of the strategy that produced this result will present a behind-the-scenes look on how they got the job done. It's a terrific story that provides valuable lessons for what it takes to pass clean energy legislation in a complex political environment.


Michael A. Costello headshot.

Michael A. Costello, Partner at Smith, Costello & Crawford

Before joining Smith, Costello & Crawford, Mike served for six terms in the Massachusetts Legislature as State Representative for the First Essex District. During his time in office, Mike was a leader in criminal justice reform, public safety and financial services issues while serving in two different position of House leadership.

As Chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, Mike authored first-of-its-kind legislation to stem foreclosures caused by predatory loans and encourage loan modifications for thousands of homeowners in Massachusetts. He helped implement new statutory frameworks for long-term care insurance and stranger-originated life insurance, both based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s model laws. He also worked on issues related to credit scoring in automobile insurance and health care payment reform. In 2013, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators named him Vice President of the Property-Casualty Insurance Committee of Insurance. Also, in 2013, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors named him Legislator of the Year.

While Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security, Mike was a leader on public safety issues. He was instrumental in the passage of a new booster seat law, ensuring that children are protected from potential injuries due to the use of adult seat belts. He helped created new protections for recreational users of ATVs. Mike was the lead sponsor of sweeping identity theft legislation that required businesses to notify the public in the event of a data breach and provided consumer with new ways to safeguard their identities. He also spearheaded the development of a new State 911 Department, which encouraged regionalized response centers and provided new revenue for enhanced equipment and training.

During this time, Mike was a member of the Governor’s Anti-Crime Council, which addressed critical issues like gang violence and the spread of assault weapons. He served on the Governor’s CORI Reform Commission, which helped author legislation to provide meaningful opportunities for people seeking to transition back into society. In a similar capacity, he was named the National Chair of the American Bar Association’s Re-entry and Collateral Consequences Committee. The Massachusetts Bar Association named Mike its Legislator of the Year in 2007. In addition, in 2009 he was appointed by Governor Patrick to serve on the New England Board of Higher Education.

Prior to his election, Mike served as Chief of Staff to Senator and Democratic State Committee Chair Joan Menard. Mike began his distinguished career as a trial attorney, serving as Assistant District Attorney in Essex County. He holds a B.S. from Salem State College and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.

Matthew Morrissey headshot.

Matthew Morrissey, Vice President, Deepwater Wind

Matthew A. Morrissey is Vice President of Deepwater Wind, where he leads the company’s development efforts in the Commonwealth. Mr. Morrissey has been involved in executive leadership positions in the offshore wind industry since 2007.

As the founding Managing Director of Offshore Wind: Massachusetts, Mr. Morrissey spearheaded the successful efforts to include offshore wind in the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio, resulting in a bill signed into law August 2016.

After selling a Boston-based knowledge management software company he cofounded, Mr. Morrissey returned to his home city of New Bedford, MA, which is the number one fishing port in America.  Under Mr. Morrissey’s leadership as Executive Director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council for seven years, New Bedford led all similar size cities from around New England in new growth and private capital investment. Mr. Morrissey founded the New Bedford Wind Energy Center where he worked with key local leaders and state officials to attract public investment in the development of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the first offshore wind terminal in the nation.

Mr. Morrissey has a degree in English literature from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and is a graduate of Harvard’s highly competitive Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate. Mr. Morrissey is the fifth generation of his family born and raised in the Port City of New Bedford, Massachusetts.


The following links provide further context for this study group session:


Research Update

February 9, 2017

I am leading research efforts in three different aspects of electric utility governance and regulation: Performance Based Incentives, Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption, and low-income access to clean energy. I am fortunate to have several HKS, HBS, and MIT DUSP graduate students assisting in this work. In addition, with support from the Institute of Politics, a Harvard College student and I are working on a paper on the politics of clean energy in Vermont and the societal forces that shape those politics.

With few exceptions the current financial incentives for investor-owned electric utilities in the United States reward consumption and capital investment thereby discouraging conservation, distributed generation from renewable sources, and clean energy research and development, all of which are critical, if the United States is going to come even close to the targets set by the Paris Agreement. This incentive structure runs counter not only to the national interest but also to consumer-driven demand and political pressure for clean energy from a majority of state governments.

Many, if not most, utility executives and regulators express fears that this push for clean energy will force utilities into a “death spiral” as their customers choose off-grid means of electricity production thereby robbing utilities of the resources they need to maintain transmission and distribution infrastructure. For the most part that fear has resulted in resistance to clean energy legislative and regulatory reforms with tens of millions of dollars devoted to opposing public referenda and legislative and regulatory measures designed to promote off-grid solutions to the climate challenge. That resistance continues in many quarters. But over the last year, in a number of utility boardrooms and public utility regulatory proceedings in more than a dozen states, that fear has been replaced by a spirit of exploration and entrepreneurism rarely found in the utility industry and at public utility commissions and, with it, innovative efforts to meet the twin goals of de-carbonization of our electricity supply and a fair return on investment for electric utility shareholders.

Much of my work in the first semester was devoted to understanding and evaluating these reform efforts. There are two which are now the focus of my on-going research: Performance-based Incentives (PBI), often referred to as Outcome-based Incentives or Performance-based Rate-setting, and the electrification of transportation.

Performance-based Incentives

The use of Performance-based Incentives (PBI) is not a new phenomenon for the electric utility sector. For many years regulators and utilities have used them to establish and measure progress on safety, reliability, and customer service goals. However, they have rarely been used to promote grid integration of distributed generation (DG), the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure, investment in research and development and other clean-energy enabling activities. Our research is focused on uncovering and evaluating the lessons learned from PBI systems that have been in place for decades and how those lessons can be used to fashion a new generation of incentives. As part of that effort we are entering into a collaboration with approximately a half-dozen utilities who have both a well-documented record of traditional PBI-driven performance measurement and a keen interest in establishing a path to profitability from the adoption of environmental outcome-driven measures. We will assess whether, and if so, how PBI has enhanced safety and other traditional performance objectives at those utilities. Drawing on this evaluation as well as our further analysis of nascent PBI efforts in the United Kingdom, New York, Illinois and elsewhere, we will put forth recommendations for industry and regulatory best practice applications of PBI.

Electrification of Transportation

The electrification of transportation will be transformational not only for the automotive industry but for electric utilities as well. Forecasts for EV adoption vary widely but for most analysts who have studied this issue, it’s not a question of whether, but when. Expansion of the EV market provides utilities a great opportunity to adopt new business models, increase their rate base, and replace lost revenues from DG, storage and other profit-sapping technologies. EV adoption also presents significant challenges: who should pay, how and where should charging infrastructure be integrated into the grid, what is the proper role for utilities - owner, service provider or facilitator?

Several students, including two MPP-MBA joint-degree candidates who are devoting their Policy Analysis Exercise to this area, and I are working with the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities, the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices, National Grid and various stakeholders to evaluate these challenges and opportunities. We are conducting benefit/cost analysis on various business models, exploring grid integration and system planning challenges, and evaluating current regulatory and industry practice constraints.

Consistent with my research on PBI, among the products of our work will be recommendations for the use of PBI to meet the state’s EV objectives and provide useful analysis and guidance for other Northeastern states and utilities engaged in Grid Modernization proceedings.

Low-income Access to Clean Energy

“Environmental Justice” entered the environmental movement’s lexicon in the 1970’s and was a major focus of the EPA in the Clinton presidency. More recently ”Energy Justice” has become the watchword of those concerned about inequality of access to clean energy. Consumer and ratepayer advocates, civil rights and social service organizations, and policymakers are increasingly concerned that only those with 700+ credit scores are able to participate in roof-top and Community Shared Solar programs, undertake advanced energy efficiencies measures, and access other financially and environmentally beneficial clean energy tools. This concern has sparked a limited measure of scholarship and only a smattering of reform initiatives across the country.

Two first-year MPPs and I are undertaking the equivalent of an architectural dig to undercover these initiatives, evaluate their efficacy to date, and assess their transferability to other jurisdictions. Our objective is not only to publish our findings but to propose specific measures to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing for statutory and regulatory adoption in the Commonwealth.

 The Politics of Clean Energy in Vermont

I am undertaking an additional research effort with a Harvard College student inspired by Cornel West’s American Democracy course. The state of Vermont has a long history of achieving environmental and clean energy advances through collaborative, bi-partisan means. Today, however, the “industrialization” of clean energy – large scale wind and solar farms – is creating a societal divide. We seek to better understand the social democratic forces which have helped achieve the state’s progress to date and what they suggest for the brewing battle over clean energy facility siting today.


John DeVillars is a clean energy and environmental professional with substantial leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. He is currently Chairman of BlueWave Capital LLC, a solar energy development and investment firm with $200M in utility-scale assets in North America, the Caribbean, and South Africa and a residential solar loan program offered in selected markets in the United States. Mr. DeVillars has held several executive positions in the public sector including New England Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Chief of Operations to the Governor of Massachusetts, and Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. At E.P.A. Mr. DeVillars launched a number of nationally-recognized initiatives including the establishment of the nation’s first regional Center for Environmental Industry and Technology; the Urban Environment Initiative which targeted EPA resources to address inner city health and environmental challenges; and the Clean Charles Initiative, a multi-stakeholder effort which has led to the Charles River reaching swimmable water quality standards. As the Commonwealth’s Environmental Secretary, he directed 3,500 employees and the $400 MM operating and capital budgets of five regulatory and natural resource agencies and pioneered advances in pollution prevention, air quality, wildlife protection, and market-‐based approaches to financing and regulating environmental activities. As Chairman of the MWRA Board of Directors, Mr. DeVillars was deeply involved in the six-‐billion-‐dollar cleanup of Boston Harbor, at the time the largest public works project in New England’s history. Mr. DeVillars has won numerous awards for his public service including the Nature Conservancy’s President’s Award for national environmental leadership. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of several private companies and non-profit organizations including the E.P.A.’s National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. Mr. DeVillars is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.) and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (M.P.A.) As a senior fellow at the Center, he will focus on the role of public utilities in meeting the climate change challenge. His faculty sponsor is Professor William Hogan, Raymond Plank Professor of Global Energy Policy and the Harvard Electricity Policy Group (HEPG) Research Director.  Email:


These study groups inform and support the efforts of a research team at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center which is analyzing specific regulatory and rate-setting measures that can be put in place to accelerate the electric industry’s adoption of climate-conscious, consumer empowering – and, importantly, profitable – approaches for a clean energy economy. Throughout the year we will convene to hear from the players in the game – regulators, utility executives, environmental and clean energy entrepreneurs and NGO leaders, politicians, and scholars – to gain their perspectives on the opportunities for transforming the industry and the challenges we as a society face in getting there.

Through study group discussions, surveys, in-depth interviews, and financial analysis we are researching and evaluating innovative models that have been employed by regulators and utilities throughout the United States and elsewhere.  At the same time we are seeking to better understand and document the fears and aspirations of utility executives and regulators and the constraints and barriers to reform that they face. Our goal for this work is to provide a strong analytical foundation for a range of recommendations for specific actions that regulators can advance to provide utilities greater opportunity to reduce their and their customers’ impact on the climate while still – in fact, better – meeting their fiduciary obligations to shareholders. 

Extensive and powerful regulatory, social, political and economic forces are driving rapid change in the energy sector. These forces pose a substantial threat to a business model that has served electric utilities well for 100 years – build more power plants, sell more kWhs, and earn a guaranteed rate of return on your investment for doing so. However, the tide is turning toward a more efficient, distributed, customer-driven electricity market.  For those utilities and for the regulatory agencies which set their rules it is a time for new thinking and new approaches.  In many states utility executives and policymakers are trying very hard to maintain the status quo. A growing number of others, however, are firmly sighted on the future, struggling to find new, entrepreneurial approaches to meeting the twin objectives of fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and socially responsible governance. This research project – and the study groups which are an important part of it - seeks to deepen and broaden the understanding of what is motivating these players and what Public Utility Commissions and other policymakers can do to accelerate the changes that are necessary to meet the climate challenge.

To follow the research team’s efforts or to participate in them, check this page often and to be added to our email list please contact: 
Dan Peckham


Information on past study groups, including speaker biographies, can be found below:

SESSION 1: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed? – The Regulator’s Perspective
October 19, 4:00-5:30 pm, Belfer 503 (M-RCBG conference room)

SESSION 2: The Utility’s Perspective   
November 16, 4:00-5:30 pm, Taubman Building, 1st floor, WAPPP Cason Conference Room (Rm 102)

SESSION 3: The Politics of Electric Utility Reform   
November 30, 4:00-5:30 pm, Taubman Building 2nd Floor, T-202

SESSION 4: Next Generation Tools for Utility Regulators To Advance a Clean Energy Economy
December 5, 1:30-2:30pm, Belfer 503 (M-RCBG conference room)


SESSION 4 Details: Next Generation Tools for Utility Regulators To Advance a Clean Energy Economy

Travis Kavulla headshot.

Guest speaker:  Travis Kavulla, Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC); Commissioner at the Montana Public Service Commission

Travis Kavulla represents the Montana Public Service Commission’s geographically largest district. In November 2010, he was elected by a 28-point margin, the largest of anyone facing an election contested by both major parties since the modern commission’s inception in 1974. He was re-elected in 2014 in an uncontested race.

Additionally, Mr. Kavulla is the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute

He also serves as co-chairman of the Northern Tier Transmission Group (NTTG) Steering Committee and is a member of the California ISO’s Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) Transitional Committee. Mr. Kavulla previously has led Western state utility regulators’ efforts on the creation of efficient wholesale markets, emissions allowance trading, and the reliability of the bulk electric system.

Previous to his election to the Public Service Commission, Mr. Kavulla worked as a journalist, writing on political economy, culture, and development. His by-line has appeared in publications as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, Catholic World Report, the Dallas Morning News, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies, among many others. Mr. Kavulla has also served as associate editor for National Review, the biweekly magazine founded by William F. Buckley, Jr., and has worked as a professional editor of media ranging from blogs to books. Mr. Kavulla has received a number of honors, including being awarded a year-long, full-time writing fellowship in 2008 from the Phillips Foundation.

Mr. Kavulla received his bachelor’s in History at Harvard University, and holds a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, England, where he was a Gates Scholar. Mr. Kavulla is a fourth-generation Montanan. 


The following links provide further context for this study group session:

Recent Documents from Mr. Kavulla & from Montana


SESSION 3 Details: The Politics of Electric Utility Reform 

Guest speaker: Edward H. Comer, Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary at Edison Electric Institute

Edward H. Comer began at EEI as a staff attorney in 1981, was elected Vice President of Law in January, 1995 and Vice President and General Counsel in 1998.  Ed was elected Corporate Secretary in September, 2011. During this period Ed has staffed EEI’s Board of Directors, consisting of the CEOs of EEI member companies, on a large number of important public policy changes. He is responsible for all legal issues affecting EEI and its members.

Ed works directly on the critical policy issues affecting the electric industry. He represents EEI in Congress and in proceedings before federal regulatory agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies.  He also represents EEI before state legislative and administrative bodies and with state officials on matters of generic industry interest. Ed is now engaged in issues involving clean energy and storage, EPA’s proposed greenhouse standards for fossil fuel units; competitive market reforms, PURPA reform, grid modernization, distributed generation, reliability, resiliency, cybersecurity, customer solutions; and general utility regulation.

Ed manages an active litigation practice at EEI.  EEI regularly appears in matters of general electric utility interest in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Courts of Appeals and the highest Courts in individual states.  EEI participated in two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court this Term which addressed the scope of FERC’s jurisdiction over demand response and over sales of electric energy for resale as it relates to state jurisdiction over retail electric matters. Ed also manages EEI’s internal legal services, covering contracts, employment, lobbying and contribution laws and sits on EEI’s internal fiduciary committee to assure our business operates efficiently and in compliance with applicable laws.

Ed holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Chicago (1971), where he specialized in History, and a Law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1974). He is a member of the Energy Bar Association; the Montgomery County, Maryland, Energy and Air Quality Advisory Committee; Leadership Montgomery; and the Association General Counsel Forum. He regularly speaks on energy issues and periodically teaches energy law classes. He is an avid bicyclist.


The following links provide further context for this study group session:

Recent Political/Legislative Articles

 Background on Utility Reform

New Regulatory Models, Pages 1-7


Session 2 Details: The Utility’s Perspective

Guest speaker: Edward Young, Director of US Strategy at National Grid

Ed Young headshot.

Edward (Ed) Young is an energy industry strategist focused on the power and gas sector. As director of US strategy at National Grid Ed is responsible for long term strategy development for the regulated electric and gas utility in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Prior to joining National Grid, Edward was responsible for strategy development and execution at InterGen, a global independent power producer with 6,306 MW of gas, coal, and wind generation in operation at 12 power plants in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, and Mexico. He founded the strategy team.

Previously Edward led the China Energy research and consulting group at IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, providing market analysis and strategy consulting to leading Chinese and Western oil, gas and power companies. Edward is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Business, London University, and the University of Oxford.

The following links provide further context for this study group session:

Background and Models for Ratemaking

Energy/Utility Regulatory Reform in the Northeast


Session 1 Details:


Ann Berwick, former Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and Massachusetts Undersecretary for Energy

Ann Berwick headshot.

Ann Berwick served as Chair of the Department of Public Utilities under Governor Deval Patrick from June, 2010 until January 2015.  She was also the president of the New England States Committee on Electricity from 2012 to 2015.  Prior to being appointed chair of the DPU, Ann was the Commonwealth’s Undersecretary for Energy and also Acting Chair of the Energy Facility Siting Board. Ann served as Chief of the Environmental Protection Division in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from 1991 to 1996, where she exercised joint oversight of the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force.  Ann has been a legal services attorney, and a partner in the litigation department at the Boston law firm Goulston & Storrs.  Ann is currently a writer and consultant on energy issues and climate change, and serves on the boards of non-profit organizations.  Ann holds a B.A. from Radcliffe College and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.  She has four grown children and lives in Newton with her husband.

Janet Besser, Executive Vice President, Northeast Clean Energy Council; former Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and Vice President of Regulatory Strategy and Policy at National Grid

Janet Besser headshot.

As Executive Vice President Janet leads NECEC's Policy, Government Affairs and Membership strategy and activities. Janet brings deep expertise and credibility to lead NECEC’s policy and government relations efforts. Most recently she was Vice President of Regulatory Strategy and Policy at National Grid, and previously was Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. Janet has been in senior roles in the Massachusetts Energy Office and New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, and has been an executive and expert consultant on electricity markets, transmission, policy and economics at two leading consulting firms: Analysis Group and Lexecon. She also brings experience as policy director for a DC-based national independent power industry association, and is a nationally recognized expert on a wide range of energy policy issues with deep relationships across the industry.

The following links provide further context for this study group session:

Background & History of Utility Ratemaking

Energy/Utility Regulatory Reform in the Northeast

John DeVillars headshot.

M-RCBG Senior Fellow John DeVillars.