The Dartmouth Energy Alliance Goes to Washington!

From March 23-26, 2022, the Dartmouth Energy Alliance led its inaugural Spring Break Energy Immersion trip to Washington, D.C., for students. Working closely with the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the DEA was able to provide eight students with the opportunity to travel to the nation's capital, attend the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Policy Forum, and to host multiple networking and discussion sessions with Dartmouth alumni based in the city. The students spanned all four class years, from '22s to '25s, coming from a wide range of disciplines, including energy engineering, film and media studies, environmental studies, and economics, providing for rich and engaging, multi-perspective experiences to learn from each other. 

The main event of the trip was attending the day-long ACORE Policy Forum on March 24, where guest speakers included Michael Regan, administrator of the EPA; Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor in the White House's Climate Policy Office; Craig Sundstrom, Senior Manager in Energy Policy at Amazon Web Services; and Robin Dutta, Senior Manager of Market Development and Policy at SunPower. The guest speakers spanned public and private sectors, from tech, to renewable energy, to industry association companies, highlighting the nature of energy as a highly interdisciplinary field where problems require strong cooperation across sectors. The Dartmouth student group at ACORE, as the largest student delegation present at the conference, also had ample opportunities to network with senior leaders working in energy research and consulting, offshore wind development, solar project implementation, and in federal energy policy. 

Students also got to participate in a full day of networking with various Dartmouth alumni. On March 25, the day started off with meeting Norman Bay '82, former Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and current partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, specializing in energy regulatory and enforcement law. For the students interested in energy justice and the legal implications of renewable energy, this was an especially pertinent discussion which covered not only access to renewable energy, but also the equitable access and distribution of these resources. 

Following the discussion, the students met with Ben Szuhaj '19, a consultant at Doblin, the digital innovation arm of Deloitte Consulting, and Jay Matson '19, Branch Chief of Investigation at FERC. From both the public and the private sector angles, the two alumni provided rich insight into what led them to their current roles in the energy space and what making an impact and effecting change in this field looked like in their respective career paths thus far. Finally, the students closed off the day with an alumni dinner, meeting again with Ben, who commented further on his role and finding meaningful work in the consulting space.

Between the networking sessions, the group also got to explore some of Washington's sights, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the peak cherry blossom season. Taking in the city sights at the cusp of spring was especially refreshing, and left the group feeling energized (no pun intended!)