NREL’s ‘Energy Execs’ Goes Nationwide

A dairy farm engineer from the Midwest, a project architect from the San Diego International Airport and a bank VP from New York City. What do they have in common? They all went through the Executive Energy Leadership Program at the National Research Energy Laboratory (NREL), which, for the first time this year, reached beyond its home base of Colorado to help decision makers nationwide build their knowledge of energy efficiency and renewables.

The Energy Exec program consists of five two-day sessions held monthly from May through September. The goal is that each of the couple dozen or so participants — and we’re talking about people who explicitly are not vendors or purveyors of energy services — come away from the tours, briefings and classes with a project for their organization.

image via Viasol Energy Solutions, LLP

So what did the class of 2010 come up with? Well, the dairy farm engineer, David B. Johnson of the Dairy Farmers of America, is planning to use renewable energy — concentrated solar power and wind — at a new plant in Kansas. The airport architect, Christine Murphy, wants to do a purchase power agreement that results in covering acres of parking with photovoltaic (PV) panels that can produce 2.3 megawatts of energy (and shade for the cars). And Sanjeeva Senanayake, vice president of HSH Nordbank, is looking into PV-to-hydrogen storage systems as an investment opportunity.

After four years of doing the program, “It’s exciting to see the impact our grads are having at their businesses and in their communities,” NREL Manager, Corporate Relations Janice Rooney said. The NREL said information about applying for the 2011 program will be available on its website later this year.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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