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July 20, 2024

Oregon Tech Energy & Environment Summit Attracts Regional Leaders

Summit tackles critical issues including cyber attacks and energy storage.

As the focus on energy and environment continues to dominate the headlines, the Oregon Institute of Technology, “Oregon Tech,” held its first Energy & Environment Summit at the university’s Portland-Metro campus on Nov. 1. The Energy-Environment Future Summit, which attracted more than 120 practitioners, academic experts and students in the field, focused on issues facing leadership and communities in planning for and delivering renewable and other energy in the context of effective environmental management.

Oregon Tech president Dr. Nagi Naganathan said, “Energy innovation is part of Oregon Tech’s DNA, having started the country’s first bachelor’s degree in renewable energy engineering. That is at the core of why we wanted to convene a diverse slate of speakers and audience participants at this Summit. Oregon Tech has been fortunate to attract faculty and students who are passionate about energy innovation at both our Klamath Falls and Portland-Metro campuses. We’re very proud that our graduates are part of a talented professional workforce who are innovating at energy- and environment-related organizations across the region.”

The Summit welcomed keynote speaker Maria Pope, president, and CEO of Portland General Electric (PGE), to share the organization’s plans for preparing for the state’s and region’s energy future through innovation, collaboration, and diversification of energy sources and solutions. Ms. Pope was joined by Michael Colgrove, executive director of Energy Trust of Oregon, who moderated questions from two Oregon Tech engineering student respondents, Annika Andersen-Kallstrom who won the statewide InventOregon competition earlier this year, and Ian Riley who is studying renewable energy engineering. Five additional sessions were held, each featuring an expert presenter and a panel of knowledgeable respondents:

  • Preparing for the Big One: Energy Resiliency after a Natural Disaster or Cyber Attack
    • Moderator/Speaker: Skip Newberry, Treasurer, Oregon Cybersecurity Advisory Council, President & CEO, Technology Association of Oregon
    • Panelists: Janine Benner, Director, Oregon Department of Energy; Dan Orzech, General Manager, Oregon Clean Power Cooperative; Sanman Rokade, Manager, Transmission GridOps-Energy, PacifiCorp
  • The Carbon Landscape: Forests, Biomass and Carbon Mitigation
    • Moderator/Speaker: Dr. Jherime Kellerman, Associate Professor, Environmental Sciences Program Director, Oregon Institute of Technology
    • Panelists: John Miedema, Founder, Northwest Biochar Initiative/Biological LLC; Jim Archuleta, Soil Scientist, U.S. Forest; Meagan Hartman, Project Development Manager, Wisewood Energy
  • No Peoples Left Behind: Environmental Justice for Underserved Communities
    • Moderator/Speaker: Jaimes Valdez, Portland Clean Energy Fund Team, City of Portland, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability
    • Panelists: Amy Berg-Pickett, Senior Community Engagement Manager, Cypress Creek Renewables; Abe Fouhy, Renewable Energy Faculty, Clackamas Community College; H. J. Corsair, Associate Professor, Renewable Energy Engineering, Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Power up, Power on, Power everywhere: Energy Storage, Recycling and Distribution Approaches for Today and Tomorrow
    • Moderator/Speaker: Dave McClelland, Senior Project Manager for Solar, Energy Trust of Oregon
    • Panelists: Eklas Hossain, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering & Renewable Energy, Oregon Institute of Technology; Angela Crowley-Koch, Executive Director, Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association; Kyle Jenkins, Graduate Student, Energy Storage Initiative and Teaching Assistant, Renewable Energy Engineering, Oregon Institute of Technology
  • What’s Next in the Northwest’s Energy and Environment Future?
    • Moderator/Speaker: Pete Danko, Energy Industry Reporter, Portland Business Journal
    • Panelists: Fred Ziari, President of IRZ, ezWireless, and Zeco; Mason Terry, Executive Director, Oregon Renewable Energy Center; Kristi Lebkowsky, Science and Engineering Teacher, Henley High School, Klamath Falls

The Summit’s goal was to develop a greater understanding of key uncertainties, potential options, and emerging opportunities for the development and growth of an energy future in the Pacific Northwest that is environmentally sustainable and socially equitable.

Dr. Naganathan added, “I would like to thank our keynote speaker, Maria Pope, for taking time away from her duties as president and CEO of PGE to open the Summit and set the context for the region’s energy-environment future. I would also like to thank our other speakers and our generous sponsors who helped make the event a success: Oregon Renewable Energy Center (OREC), Pacific Power, Energy Trust of Oregon, Portland State Center for Public Service – Hatfield School of Government, Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Auric Energy. We look forward to many more annual summits in this field and others that help our state and region advance key issues of importance that impact our economy and quality of life.”

Oregon Tech’s 2019 Summit is the university’s first event of its kind to convene industry and higher education around issues related to energy sources and innovation, and intersections with the environment and communities across the Pacific NW. The university’s many partners in industry, as well as alumni and the campus community, expressed excitement about the Summit, and are already thinking about the next convening. The date and topical area for that summit will be announced in the next few months. For more information, interested parties can contact Di Saunders, associate vice president for public affairs at Oregon Tech, at Di.Saunders@oit.edu. A recording of the Summit as well as presenter handouts is located at the Summit website.

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