Issue 5: Cecelia ‘CeCe’ Coffey

Issue 5: Cecelia ‘CeCe’ Coffey

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An interview with Cecelia ‘CeCe’ Coffey ‘15, an energy industry analyst for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Check out her LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ceceliacoffey/


JPM: What did you study at Princeton? What did you do outside of class? What was your senior thesis about?

CC: I majored in the Woodrow Wilson School, and my Princeton experience reflected my transition from studying environmental policy to focusing more specifically on energy infrastructure development. During the summer of 2014, an internship with the White House Council on Environmental Quality led me to dive into infrastructure permitting broadly. When I returned to Princeton for my senior year, I decided to focus specifically on offshore wind, since I saw a growing opportunity for wind project development in federal waters.

My thesis evaluated the efficacy of the Smart From the Start program, which was designed to pre-site, permit, and conduct programmatic environmental reviews in pre-designated offshore wind energy areas. I also began attending PUEA events during my senior year, its inaugural year. It was through a friend from PUEA, Dan Jang, that I heard about ICF, where I would work immediately following graduation.


JPM: What is your current job title?

CC: Beginning November 2017, I started as an energy industry analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C. As a member of the Office of Energy Market Regulation, I work in the East division, which is tasked with advising the Commission on caseload related to the regulation of electric utilities operating in the ISO-NE, NYISO and PJM operator territories. Prior to joining FERC, I worked at ICF for 2+ years on a variety of projects for public and private clients related not only to electricity, but also to fuel markets in the U.S. and abroad.


JPM: Tell us about the day-to-day for your job?

CC: While the general jurisdictional authority of FERC is to maintain the appropriate balance between competition and regulation in the regulated wholesale electricity markets, my role specifically focuses on rate and tariff filings, as well as other policy issues related to electricity rate-setting. My day-to-day work includes reviewing filings and researching the relevant market issues, discussing alternate approaches with a team, and drafting orders that align with the determination of senior staff.


JPM: What has your overall career path been like? Why did you make specific pivots/switches along the way?

CC: Spending the summer of 2014 at CEQ inspired my pursuit of a career in energy. I joined ICF right out of school with the intent to focus on energy infrastructure broadly. However, as I learned more about the challenges facing the evolving electric grid space, I knew that I wanted to learn more about how electricity market structure and regulation can incentivize the efficient and cost-effective delivery of electricity to consumers.

My work at FERC is uniquely attractive in several ways. First, I have the ability to develop expertise in three electricity markets, which impact a third of the states in the country. In addition, the wholesale electricity markets are at the center of critical national debates over compensation for energy and capacity resources, which makes me excited to come to work each day. Finally, joining FERC meant I could stay in D.C., which I love.


JPM: In what ways did Princeton prepare you for what you are doing after graduation?

CC: Princeton prepared me well to be successful in my research assistant and analyst positions at ICF. Without an engineering background, I initially worried about being able to keep up while working with colleagues on projects related to refinery production, fuel specification changes, and other more technical aspects of fuel market operations, but I found myself quickly picking up everything that I needed to know.

Most importantly, perhaps, was that Princeton gave me the confidence both to seek out mentorship and to actively pursue projects that would help me develop specific areas of expertise within the electricity sector. Outside of work, my continued involvement with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) connects me to a community of young people who support each other in these same goals.


JPM: Is there anything in energy that currently excites you?

CC: Much more than fits in a short interview, thankfully. One topic that I have taken a specific interest in is the development of high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines. I was first exposed to transmission development at CEQ, where I learned about the permitting and environmental reviews that can challenge project developers. While at ICF, I supported the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Transmission Permitting and Technical Assistance, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to plan and execute major projects to connect the locations where electricity can be generated cheaply to those areas where consumers face supply shortages. At this point, HVDC technology has advanced sufficiently to support long-distance projects, but successful project execution still relies on effective public engagement and extensive planning, which can be exciting to follow.


JPM: Do you have a recommendation/tidbit of advice for current students?

CC: Figure out what excites you about building a career in energy, then seek out experiences to build a skill set. Cleantekker, for example, is a website to help internship- and job- seekers connect with a career in clean energy. Above all, take what you can from wherever you land first, but know that you’re not stuck if you find your interests changing. Connecting both with coworkers and with friends at other organizations will allow you to explore a broad range of opportunities in energy, if and when you decide to switch jobs.

Issue 4: Aashna Mehra

Issue 4: Aashna Mehra

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An interview with Aashna Mehra ‘15, an investment analyst at Greenbacker Capital and current MBA student at the Yale School of Management. Check out her LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aashna-mehra-79717663/


JPM: What did you study at Princeton? What did you do outside of class? What was your senior thesis about?


AM: I majored in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and got a minor in Materials Science. On campus, I was involved with the International Relations Council and Naacho, in addition to spending every waking moment in lab my junior and senior years. I worked in the lab of Dan Steingart where my junior independent work and senior thesis were focused on alkaline batteries, and particularly doped metal carbonates as cathode materials.


JPM: What is your current job title?

AM: I am an Investment Analyst at Greenbacker Capital, a sustainable infrastructure fund that focuses on acquiring, owning and operating renewable energy assets with long-term contracted cash flows. We mostly focus on wind and solar for now but I am working actively to originate and complete our first energy storage deal sometime within the next few months, so the battery knowledge is coming in handy!


JPM: Tell us about the day-to-day for your job?

AM: There is a lot of Excel, a lot of financial modeling, tax equity, capital accounts, numbers and more numbers! I also participate in due diligence with my team so sometimes I am reading hundreds of pages of Power Purchase Agreements, Interconnection Agreements, and all legal documents associated with project finance.


JPM: What has your overall career path been like? Why did you make specific pivots/switches along the way?

AM: It’s been a really interesting ride. I came into Princeton thinking I would go to graduate school and get a Ph.D. after college. I instead decided to work for a year with a Member of Parliament in India (which is where I grew up) who also happens to be the former Union Minister for Power in the country. I then went to Yale School of Management to complete my first year of MBA, where I focused my curriculum on energy finance, and am currently in my gap year as part of the Silver Scholars program. I interned in banking at Barclays this past summer and am now working for the year at Greenbacker and absolutely loving it!


JPM: In what ways did Princeton prepare you for what you are doing after graduation?

AM: I think the rigor of the Princeton curriculum is unparalleled – it only gets easier from here on out, I promise! At Princeton, I learnt how to learn – how to pick up new things quickly and apply myself in situations where I had no idea what was going on. Having said that, I wish there were more classes at Princeton that were more like a “practicum” and less “theoretical”. It was the first year of business school that really prepared me for what I do at work every day.


JPM: What is the most surprising thing about energy that you have learned about since graduation?

AM: Everybody in this industry knows everyone else. There’s likely no more than two degrees of separation between any two individuals.


JPM: Is there anything in energy that currently excites you?

AM: I know batteries and energy storage have become buzzwords but I am so excited for what’s to come! Apart from that, I want to see how electric vehicle charging networks emerge as an asset class and what business model powers the “gas station of the future”.


JPM: Do you have a recommendation/tidbit of advice for current students?

AM: I think the most important aspect of being in this industry (or any industry for that matter) is to put yourself out there and meet people and seek opinions that may be wildly different from your own. Debates in this industry (what technology will win the race to market, gas vs. solar, etc.) are impassioned, and often political, and you should assimilate as much knowledge as you can before making your own conclusions.

Issue 3: Cheryl LaFleur

Issue 3: Cheryl LaFleur

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An interview with Cheryl LaFleur ’75 S75 P08 P10, a Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Check out her LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheryl-lafleur-26899666/


JPM: What did you study at Princeton? What did you do outside of class? What was your senior thesis about?

CLaF: I graduated in 1975 and majored in politics, and also studied a lot of classics (we didn't have minors in those days). My thesis was on The Influence of the Theory of Mixed Government on the American Constitution. It bridged both my fields as I read a lot of original work, especially by John Adams, drawing on the political philosophy of Polybius and Aristotle.

I graduated in three years so my extracurricular activities were limited, but my primary one was writing for the Daily Princetonian.


JPM: What is your current job title?

CLaF: I am a Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We are a five-member bipartisan, independent regulatory agency with authority over interstate electric transmission, natural gas pipelines, oil pipelines, hydroelectric power, electric markets, and the reliability of the electric grid. Each Commissioner is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, with generally three coming from the president's party and two from the other party.

I was appointed by President Obama in 2010 and again in 2014, and am serving a term that goes until 2019. Also, I acted as chairman twice, once from 2013-2015 and again for several months in 2017, making me the only person to be chairman twice.


JPM: Tell us about the day-to-day for your job?

CLaF: At FERC, we vote out about 1000 orders a year on electric and gas rates, market issues, project permitting, reliability standards, enforcement proceedings, and a wide spectrum of energy issues. It includes both deciding specific disputes or applications or issuing regulations on areas in our authority.  So a large part of my job is deciding on those orders and negotiating language, or writing separately if I do not agree with the majority. As an agency, we also have administrative authority over reliability/grid security, hydro safety, and market rules. I am a frequent speaker on energy issues and a lot of my time is spent meeting with people from all sectors of the energy and environmental world, in DC and around the country.

Overall, FERC has about 1500 employees, but I have a team of 7 in my personal office, including 4 advisors (akin to law clerks) who work on the cases with me. Incidentally, I hire Princeton interns in my office every summer through the Princeton In Civic Service (PICS) program, and they have been a great addition to the work of the office. I have also helped create PICS internships in other FERC offices. All of our interns have been terrific, and I am delighted that several stayed in energy after graduation.


JPM: What has your overall career path been like? Why did you make specific pivots/switches along the way?

CLaF: I have had three major segments of my career: private practice of law, the electric industry, and government.

Like many people (at least in my generation), I ended up in the energy world by happenstance, but it has been the primary focus of my career for the past 30+ years.

Right after Princeton I went to Harvard Law School, with ill-defined thoughts of a career in mental health law. When I graduated from law school in 1978, I had a boatload of loans and went to a law firm-- Ropes and Gray in Boston-- thinking I would stay a few years and pay them off. I ended up staying 8 years, working primarily on civil litigation and white collar defense work (not energy). I learned a lot, but it was not where I was meant to spend my career.

After I had my first child in 1985, I decided to try to go to an in-house legal department for a while, hoping for better work-life balance than in the law firm while my son was little. Through someone I had met on a case, I ended up interviewing at New England Electric System (a regional electric company in New England that is now part of National Grid). When I landed there in the legal department, I discovered pretty quickly that I loved the work and that was what I wanted to do with my career.  I ended up staying 21 years! From the legal department, I had a chance to be assistant and speech writer for the CEO, which set me on a path to management. I held a series of jobs of progressively greater responsibility in both operating and legal/regulatory parts of the company. I ran some of the first-generation energy conservation programs in the early 1990s, worked on industry restructuring and the opening of the competitive wholesale market in New England (ISO-NE) in 1997, and worked one of the first international utility mergers when we merged with National Grid in 2000. As of 2006, I was US COO when our US CEO left and I ran the US business for almost a year on an acting basis while they did a CEO search. I was the "inside candidate," but the board chose an outside candidate and I retired from the company at the end of 2007, not sure what I would do next.

I had a "non-compete" agreement that kept me out of energy for two years, so I did a lot of nonprofit work (ran a small educational nonprofit for a while) while I figured out what to do next in my career. In 2009, I received an unexpected call from the (Obama) White House about the FERC seat, to which I was ultimately appointed and which I still hold. I feel extraordinarily lucky that I got that call (someone I had networked with had given them my name). It has been an amazing gig for the past 7 years, allowing me to learn a lot more about the energy opportunities and challenges in all parts of the country and feel like I am making a difference on important energy issues.

I always say "Life is a movie, not a snapshot"-- you have different chapters in your career, with ups and downs, and things keep changing. What you learn and the people who meet and work with along the way are what stays with you.


JPM: In what ways did Princeton prepare you for what you are doing after graduation?

CLaF: Well, I obviously did not major in something specifically pre-professional like electrical engineering, though politics is quite relevant to a heavily-regulated field like energy.

A lot of what I work on (cybersecurity, wind and solar energy, computer algorithms to run the energy dispatch) uses technology that wasn't even invented when I was at Princeton 40+ years ago. I think what Princeton mainly taught me was how to think,  how to write, and how to work hard. It sounds corny, but you really go to college to learn to learn, because that is what you need to do for your whole career--keep learning and adapting to new things.

Also, I was the first person in my family to go to college, and just going to Princeton opened up a whole world of opportunities for me that I would never had had otherwise.


JPM: What is the most surprising thing about energy that you have learned about since graduation?

CLaF: I think there is a misconception that a lot of the energy field, especially electricity, is pretty staid and unchanging. Have you heard the old saw that "If Alexander Graham Bell woke up today he wouldn't even recognize a telephone, but if Thomas Edison woke up he would feel right at home"? Well, that is totally untrue-- not only now, but for the whole time I have worked in energy since 1986.

When I first got into energy, we were coping with the aftermath of the OPEC oil embargo and the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and figuring out where we would get our electricity in the future, negotiating with the first-generation independent power producers, and adapting our grid to new technologies. Through the growth of the merchant generation model and competitive markets, to the mergers around the turn of the century, to the advent of new renewable and storage technologies, it has never stopped changing.

Right now we are dealing with the tremendous growth in domestic natural gas and renewable technologies, which has driven huge change in markets and infrastructure, and figuring out how to adapt the energy system to the reality of global climate change.


JPM: Is there anything in energy that currently excites you?

CLaF: Well, pretty much everything or I wouldn't keep working so hard at it. But more than anything else, the intersection of how we keep moving forward on energy to propel the economy while responding to climate change is the big challenge right now and for the foreseeable future.


JPM: Do you have a recommendation/tidbit of advice for current students?

CLaF: There is no one right major, so major in what you love. We especially need engineers, lawyers, economists, and just good thinkers. I strongly encourage students to get involved in the energy and environmental fields in the summer and after graduation-- in the private sector, in state or federal government, or in nongovernmental organizations. I have found it to be a tremendously rewarding career, and a field that is critical to every other part of our society and economy.  I think the PUEA is a great way for students to engage. Finally, I encourage for students to apply to FERC for summer internships or after graduation as opportunities arise.

Issue 2: Aoi Senju

Issue 2: Aoi Senju

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An interview with Aoi Senju ‘16, Advanced Development Engineer at 24M Technologies and one of the co-founders of PUEA. For career advice from Aoi, feel free to reach out to him on LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/asenju/


JPM: What did you study at Princeton? What did you do outside of class? What was your senior thesis about?

AS: I majored in Chemical and Biological Engineering, with certificates in Finance and Environmental Studies. Outside of class, I was one of the co-founders of PUEA, as well as the President of Advertise This Marketing and Advertising Club. In addition, I was a Dormitory Assistant, a staff writer for the Daily Princetonian, on the Executive Board of Asian American Students Association, and a member of the Cap and Gown Club. For my senior thesis, I performed research on zinc-bromine batteries in the lab of Dan Steingart. I was fortunate enough to publish the results from my senior thesis research in the journal Energy and Environmental Science (JPM: You can find Aoi’s journal article here (in html format) and here (in pdf format)).


JPM: What do you do today?

AS: I’m an Advanced Development Engineer at 24M Technologies, which is a Series B/C next-generation battery startup. At 24M, we have simplified the manufacturing process of batteries, allowing us to make batteries for a third of the cost of current batteries. I cannot emphasize enough how pivotal this is to our energy landscape - at $175/kWh, storage beats gas plants for peak power. At $150/kWh, battery-powered cars become competitive with ICE (internal combustion engine) cars (assuming gasoline at $2/gallon). When you consider that batteries today cost $200/kWh, our value proposition is a game changer.


JPM: Tell us about the day-to-day for your job.

AS: I'm the lead engineer of a $3.5M ARPA-E government grant that is being used to develop a super high energy density battery. A large part of my day-to-day involves literature review to see what other groups are doing on the subject, experimental work in the lab, and project management to communicate with the other stakeholders on the project.

I also have a couple of side projects apart from my full time job that I devote time to - I work as an Investment Fellow for Element 8 Angels (a cleantech angel investment firm), and as an advisor to the Union of Concerned Scientists (a science-based environmental nonprofit).


JPM: What has your overall career path been like? Why did you make specific pivots/switches along the way?

AS: When I started at Princeton as a chemical engineer, I had an idea that I wanted to work in the energy sector. I started off really interested in natural gas - I went on a breakout trip during my freshman year to Pittsburgh where we learned about fracking, and heard from lobbyists, corporations, academics, etc. who all held different views of natural gas. It was a transitional energy source that would wean the US off of foreign oil, but it sometimes had disastrous implications on the health of people located close to the source. I wanted to find something cleaner for my life mission.

Going into the summer, I learned that a cleaner way to use natural gas was with fuel cells - so I took an internship with Bloom Energy, the first and only unicorn valuation clean energy fuel cell startup. But I was disappointed by the reality of the technology - fuel cells that run on natural gas couldn't actually be considered "clean."

So next, I thought I'd try my hand in the solar industry. I got a job as a contract engineer at SunPower, a solar energy giant. There I saw an industry that develops incrementally, with small improvements in efficiency over the course of decades. The contributions to the clean energy sector were clear, but I didn't have the patience to wait for decades. Solar energy had already been around for a while, and I wasn't convinced that I really had much to contribute to the field. I wanted to look for a more nascent industry.

Then, I finally settled on batteries.

Working in the lab of Dan Steingart during my junior and senior years at Princeton really changed my career trajectory. I actually only accidentally ended up doing my research on batteries, because Dan was the only professor that responded to my emails back when I was trying to do junior research. After working with Dan, I was convinced to go into batteries after graduation. Everything just clicked into place - it was back in 2014 so Tesla’s momentum was just picking up, and I saw the potential that batteries could have on the entire renewable energy industry. Forget about incrementally better technologies - batteries could change the world. I built my foundational knowledge of electrochemistry with Dan, published my first paper, and went on to work in the battery industry after graduation.


JPM: Talk about your blogging! How did you get into it, what do you blog about, how do you keep up with what you blog about, and do you have any blogging tips?

AS: I actually first started writing a private blog in college that I would show to potential employers - I had about a dozen posts on what different startups were doing, and what I thought was the future of the sector, and that helped me land me a few jobs. Many of the blogs that I've published publicly since then are adaptations of the same topics that I wrote 4 years ago.

I started writing public blogs last year after I had a conversation with a friend who was still a senior at Princeton. He was debating what to do after graduation, and I was trying to convince him that sustainability "was the most important problem of our generation." When he asked me where he could read more about it, I couldn't think of any place where he could find everything. So that night, I wrote my first post, “The greatest challenge of our generation" and shared it with him (check it out! It's my first Medium post! Also, here is my Medium profile: https://medium.com/@aoisenju).

Afterwards, I began to realize that there were inadequate resources to learn anything about cleantech. Most resources assumed that you were an industry professional, and thus didn't provide sufficient background information. So I also started writing pieces to simplify the absolutely chaotic maze of cleantech, with all the different players and stakeholders. I found myself with a breadth of knowledge of the cleantech sector, having had such varied experiences throughout college (as elaborated in the previous question). My hope was to convince even one person who was debating what to do after graduation to work in cleantech.

As for blogging tips, honestly, just write about whatever interests you at that particular moment! For me, it's actually pretty easy to write my pieces - I spend at least an hour a day on average following the cleantech and energy sector, and whenever I find something that I think is particularly interesting, I write it down under a topic label (ie "stuff about wind energy"), and come back to it later when I've gathered enough information to write a piece on the topic. It helps to actually be interested in the topic, so that you're excited to publish the piece and hear what people think about it.


JPM: Is there anything in energy that currently excites you?

AS: Energy blockchain and data management.


JPM: Do you have a recommendation/tidbit of advice for current students, especially those who want to get involved in energy?

AS: If you're a Princeton student today, and you want to make an early mark in this industry, you need to first make up for your lack of experience. You do that by specialization. I think it's critical that you focus early on in your career on something that you can point to and say, “that’s important,” and then go deep into that sector. For me, I focused on batteries. After I locked onto that, I did research for 2 years on batteries. And after publishing a paper, I was able to get a job as a research engineer at a battery startup after graduation.

But in doing that, you need to think 5 years in advance. What is energy going to look like in 5 years? What's most important in that future? The energy sector in 5 years will be radically different than what we have today. Carve out a specialization for yourself.

Issue 1: David Green and Leland Baldwin

Issue 1: David Green and Leland Baldwin

In this first installment of the Princeton University Energy Alumni Interview Series, we interview David Green '03, Head of Trading at Xcel Energy, and Leland Baldwin, '14, Technical Specialist at Ecova.


JPM: Tell us about what you did at Princeton. What was your senior thesis about?

DG: I majored in ORFE with Certificates in Finance and Engineering Management Systems. On campus, I was on Club Lacrosse and a member of Ivy Club. My senior thesis involved building a Black Scholes Spread Option model of correlated equities to apply to Employee Stock Option valuation. Surprisingly enough, I do use some of that theory when evaluating Spark-Spread Options between power and natural gas in my job.

LB: I was MAE with a certificate in Sustainable Energy. I was a member of Greening Princeton and other similar groups focused on sustainability as a whole. I also played club soccer and was a member of the rock climbing team. My thesis was about computer modeling of soot formation in turbulent flames - we were trying to improve computer modeling for the design of more efficient engines.


JPM: What’s your current job title?

DG: I’m Head of Energy Trading at Xcel Energy. I manage a team of Traders and Analysts evaluating North American Power and Natural Gas markets - making speculative trading decisions to generate revenue, and providing corporate customers commodity price risk management solutions in the wholesale energy markets. On a proprietary basis, we trade power, gas, renewable energy certificates, emissions and some oil, coast to coast across the US, as part of Xcel Energy’s Commercial Operations division that supports the Regulated Utility.
At Princeton I studied financial derivatives, microeconomics, statistics, probability and optimization under uncertainty - all directly applicable to what we do on a daily basis trying to extract revenue from the energy markets. Commodity markets are just microeconomic price systems where physical fundamentals of energy supply and demand are the primary drivers of price formation. As for power and gas energy market acumen, I picked that up 100% on the job, through learning and reading. That was after I landed a job out of college in the Commodity Trading Strategy division of a global macro hedge fund.

LB: My current title is Technical Specialist. I have also been a Project Engineer, Program Manager, and Engagement Specialist. I work for a company (Ecova) in the energy sector. My part of the company uses data analytics to derive actionable insights from building's energy consumption data. Basically, we do virtual energy assessments.


JPM: What has your overall career path been like?

DG: I have been involved in energy derivative trading since graduation. I developed this niche expertise, had some early success with it, and have been lucky enough to have made a career of it to date. I’ve primarily made job changes due to geography - starting in Chicago, moving to energy job hotbeds like Houston, and eventually coming to Denver to put down roots with my family.

LB: When I graduated, I started working for Energy and Resource Solutions (ERS) as a Project Engineer. ERS is an energy efficiency consultancy firm specializing in measurement and verification of utility efficiency programs. We would design and implement evaluations of past efficiency programs in order to inform the utility companies how effective their previous programs had been and how to improve them for the future. We also did a number of direct industrial energy audits where we would visit a facility and use our engineering expertise to make recommendations to improve upon their systems from an energy standpoint.
After almost 2 years at ERS, I moved to a company called Retroficiency (since acquired by Ecova). Retroficiency is still in the energy efficiency business, but we focus on targeting which facilities in a utility's portfolio of buildings would benefit the most from having an engineer come on site and perform an energy audit. In terms of the timeline of an energy project, I moved forward in time to before the project is implemented while I used to work mainly with facilities that already had the efficiency upgrades.
I switched to Retroficiency because I think I have the potential to have a greater impact in reducing building energy consumption working with them and this model than I could have while at ERS. Plus, I can now bike to work (our office is in downtown Boston), which is infinitely better than my 35-minute car commute to the ERS office.


JPM: In what ways did Princeton prepare you for your career?

DG: It gave me a framework to think about the world as a distribution of outcomes, and a good mathematical background that I can use to make risk-adjusted decisions. The liberal arts courses I took definitely helped to round out my intellect, and made it easier for me to work with and lead others.

LB: Engineering, particularly mechanical engineering, is about problem solving and energy flows. I still use the foundational knowledge I gained at Princeton. I apply it to building specific systems (HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, etc.) to figure out how to best model, interpret, and improve each of system.


JPM: What’s the most surprising thing about energy that you have learned about since graduation?

DG: How the energy markets are constantly evolving and becoming more efficient. How new disruptive energy technology is lowering costs and unseating incumbents in competitive markets (e.g. fracking to unlock lower cost hydrocarbons, subsidized wind and solar generation, and increasingly efficient combined cycle natural gas generation technology). How volatile mother nature can be and how it impacts Energy Markets through supply and demand (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Polar Vortex, etc and impact on natural gas and regional power markets).

LB: I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned about energy is how many different types of jobs and companies and roles there are within the field. You can have any sort of day-to-day experience and expertise, and bring that to a company to help towards the overall goal of reducing our current dependence on fossil fuels. There are so many companies that fit into every possible niche that I keep learning about more, even having worked in the industry for over 3 years.


JPM: What’s something in energy that currently excites you?

DG: Battery storage is used to balance and smooth wind and solar over the course of a day as energy needs shift. Is it scalable? I’m curious about any solutions which could help with power ramping to balance the market and ancillary services on the grid in the face of the growth of renewable power supply, which is volatile hour to hour. What can replace fossil generation, to balance renewables, that would actually be scalable and economic in current power market constructs?

LB: One is that major companies that were historically dependent on fossil fuels are now developing their renewable resources. Our parent company, Engie, a French-based company, has set some pretty high goals towards cutting out fossil fuels from their fleet of generation and promoting renewables and alternatives. It gives me hope that even without federal guidance,  private companies see the future and value in renewables.


JPM: Any advice for current students? And what about for students here who want to get involved in energy?

DG: Princeton is fun! Make it a priority to enjoy your time there. Career-wise, don’t undervalue time spent Networking and make sure you constantly invest in building genuine connections. If you are interested in energy finance specifically, I would be most interested in Energy Private Equity at the moment - that is where the capital is flowing towards, and where the most interesting things have been happening.

LB: If you want to get into energy, there is definitely a place for you. You may not find it right away at your first job, but as you learn more about the industry and develop context and understanding, you can move towards a job that fits your interests and talents. Always keep reading about the industry because it is a fast-paced game - utilities are notoriously slow, but many private companies are doing things on a much faster scale.