Speakers 2017

Managing an Abundance of Riches: A California Perspective

Ron Nichols

President, Southern California Edison
Los Angeles, CA

Ronald O. Nichols is president of Southern California Edison (SCE). He is responsible for external affairs, compliance, power production and procurement, and other operations.

Nichols has more than 35 years of experience in the electric and water utility industry. He has been a strategic and operational advisor to utilities, state and local government, power suppliers and the financial community on complex energy and utility matters throughout the United States, particularly in the West.

Previously, Nichols was senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Nuclear for SCE, overseeing regulatory operations and environmental affairs.

Prior to joining SCE in 2014, Nichols served for three years as General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), where he  provided leadership for the utility in supplying reliable and competitively priced water and electricity while continuing to maintain and implement environmentally conscious policies and priorities.

Previously, Nichols was a managing director at the energy practice of Navigant Consulting, an international consulting organization with over 2,000 employees. From 1980 to 1997, before his position at Navigant, he was a co-founder and Senior Vice President of the energy and water utility consulting firm, Resource Management International, which was headquartered in Sacramento with offices throughout North America and in Europe and Asia. Prior to starting his energy and water utility consulting career in 1980, he held positions with the California Department of Water Resources and the California Energy Commission.

Nichols is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a degree in agricultural economics and business management.

Panel 1
A Closer Look: Today’s Power Markets

Robert Cromwell JR.

Interim Officer of Power Supply and Strategic Planning, Seattle City Light
Seattle, WA

Robert Cromwell is Seattle City Light’s interim Officer for Power Supply and Strategic Planning.  His responsibilities include all power marketing activities, regional engagement on a wide range of policy matters, managing all long term power and transmission agreements (including those with BPA), and long-term planning for both the resource portfolio as well as the utility as a whole. City Light’s implementation of the CAISO EIM is a current focus of attention.

Cromwell has spent the last ten years with City Light in a variety of roles within Power Management.  Before joining Seattle City Light in 2007 he spent 14 years practicing law, including representing Seattle City Light.

Cromwell earned both his B.A. and his J.D. from the University of Arizona.

Steve Fisher

Managing Director, Power Delivery, Grant County Public Utility District
Ephrata, WA

Steve Fisher serves as Managing Director of Power Delivery for Grant County PUD, where his duties include management of the District’s Power Delivery Engineering, Construction and Maintenance, fiber business,  system operations (including Mid-Columbia Hourly Coordination), and control system engineering functions.  Prior to assuming the role of Managing Director of Power Delivery, he served as the District’s Director of Power Management.  He joined Grant PUD in June of 2016.

Prior to joining Grant PUD, Fisher was an owner of Lands Energy Consulting from 2008 to 2016.

As a consultant, he specialized in electric system operations (including renewable resource integration), renewable and conventional resource project development, transmission and interconnection agreement negotiation, electric reliability compliance, and regulatory issues.  He is also experienced in hydro system operations, energy marketing, power resource planning and acquisition, and substation design.  His previous employers include: Sapere Consulting, Washington Water Power, Avista Energy, Avista Power, Mirant Americas Energy Marketing, TransAlta Energy Marketing US, Power Resource Managers, and Chelan County PUD.

Fisher graduated from the University of Idaho in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

Andy Law

Senior Analyst, Shell Energy North America
Spokane, WA

Andy Law, P.E., Senior Analyst for electric trading, joined Shell Energy North America via Shell’s acquisition of Avista Energy in 2007.   Law is Shell’s transmission expert and performs fundamental analysis and has been instrumental in developing optimization strategies for clients including the Tri-Dam Project, Teck Cominco, Grant PUD and Yuba County Water Agency.  In addition to tracking changing operation limits on the transmission grid, he forecasts system fundamentals such as system load, generation availability and energy stored in the hydro system.  In addition, Law has developed tools to track the performance of the Lancaster combined cycle natural gas generating plant.  Sensitivities of the capacity and efficiency to changing conditions such as dispatch level, temperature, pressure, and humidity are modeled and tracked.  These data are incorporated into optimal scheduling and dispatch tools.  In the last year Law has been providing fundamental support to the opening of a new Shell trading company, Shell Energy Brazil.

Prior to joining Avista Energy, Law worked as a senior transmission planner for the Washington Water Power Transmission Planning group.  Law represented Washington Water Power on the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) Technical System Subcommittee and the WECC Operating Capability Study group.  In these capacities, Law co-authored the Voltage Stability Criteria, Undervoltage Load Shedding Strategy, and Reactive Power Reserve monitoring Methodology.  He also conducted operating capability studies on the Montana to Northwest and West of Hatwai transmission paths, demonstrating that both could be safely operated up to their ratings.  Law also chaired the Northwest power pool Undervoltage Load Shedding Implementation Group.

From 1990 to 1994, Law worked for the Bonneville Power Administration.  At Bonneville, he conducted long-term studies and provided technical support to contract staff.  In addition, Law assisted in negotiation of the return of the Down Stream benefits to Canada.  Law co-authored a report evaluating transmission options for returning the entitlement energy to Canada.

Law is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and has attended a year and half of graduate school.  Law is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington and has held a NERC Certification for System Operations and Principles of Interconnection.

Ty Johnson

Partner, Bracewell Law
Seattle, WA

Ty Johnson counsels domestic and international participants in the energy industry on regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy, the Bonneville Power Administration, and other federal agencies.

As a former naval officer serving aboard a United States Navy submarine where he operated a nuclear power plant and conducted ship-board operations, Johnson brings a technical experience to the federal regulation of the transportation and transmission of energy. He leverages his naval managerial experience to lead clients through complex regulatory proceedings. In particular, he advises both marketers and transmission owners in matters involving FERC’s electric market based rate program and compliance with the Federal Power Act. Johnson advises clients participating in the electric energy markets and clients with renewable power projects.

Johnson has experience with regulatory proceedings involving the Bonneville Power Administration, including rate cases. He also counsels clients involved in regulatory litigation before FERC and in related appellate litigation. In addition, he counsels clients regarding FERC’s natural gas transportation regulations, including representing shippers and pipelines in FERC regulatory and transactional matters, such as tariff and certificate proceedings, compliance audits and enforcement proceedings. Johnson advises clients on numerous aspects of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and exports, such as Department of Energy licensing and FERC proceedings, and he advises crude pipeline companies on compliance with the Interstate Commerce Act and related regulations.

He graduated from Yale University in 2000 and received his J.D, from Washington College of Law in 2010.

Luncheon Address
The Future is Right on Schedule

Dan James

Deputy Administrator, Bonneville Power Administration
Portland, OR

Dan James joined BPA’s leadership team as deputy administrator in June 2016. James is responsible for leadership, strategic planning, financial management, legal and regulatory affairs as well as public affairs and intergovernmental affairs oversight. He oversees and provides direction and guidance for program execution and administration to executive vice presidents, vice presidents and managers in Corporate Strategy, Finance, General Counsel, Communications, Intergovernmental Affairs, the Ombudsman, and Compliance, Audit and Risk.

James came to BPA from PNGC Power, where he served as vice president of public affairs and marketing from 2007.  PNGC Power is one of BPA’s largest customers with member utilities spread across BPA’s service territory.

Prior to his PNGC experience, James worked as a federal affairs representative at Pacific Northwest Waterways Association in Vancouver, WA, and as a senior government relations specialist at Ball Janik LLP in Portland, OR, and Washington, D.C.

James is a member of the National Preference Customer Committee of the National Electric Cooperative Association and is a senior fellow of the Oregon chapter of the American Leadership Forum.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Pacific University in Forest Grove, and a utility management certificate from Willamette University in Portland.

Panel 2
Direct Access: What Can We Expect?

Gregory Adams

Principal, Richardson Adams
Boise, ID

In his energy law practice, Greg Adams regularly represents renewable energy and cogeneration developers in securing power purchase agreements, interconnection agreements, transmission wheeling agreements, and completing related regulatory compliance filings. He also represents independent power producers and PURPA qualifying facilities in policy-setting and complaint proceedings before state public utility commissions and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Additionally, Adams has extensive experience with direct retail access, and has represented suppliers of direct retail electric access in regulatory proceedings setting stranded cost charges and related terms and conditions of direct retail access to alternative suppliers. Adams regularly represents large power users in retail rate-setting proceedings before state public utility commissions, as well as in related transactional matters.

In his environmental and natural resource practice, Adams assists clients with the Federal Power Act’s hydroelectric licensing and exemption requirements, and related environmental requirements. Adams has represented clients in disputes arising under the public trust doctrine and use of federal public lands.

Adams regularly represents and/or consults in litigation and appeals arising from disputes in the areas of energy regulation, public utility law, administrative law, the public trust doctrine, public lands law, and contract law.

He holds a BA in Biology/Environmental Studies/Economics from Bowdoin College and graduated Lewis and Clark Law School in 2006, cum laude, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law.

Jason Eisdorfer

Utility Program Director, Public Utility Commission of Oregon
Salem, OR

Jason Eisdorfer serves as Utility Program Director for the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC), a position he has held since 2012.  He oversees a staff of approximately 77 employees who advise the Commission how to regulate electric, natural gas, telephone and water companies.

Previously Eisdorfer was Greenhouse Gas Policy Strategist for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). He was the senior technical consultant and advisor on developing and implementing strategic objectives, policies and programs related to global, national and state greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide issues.

Prior to this Eisdorfer was legal counsel and energy program director of the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB) for 13 years. At CUB, he represented residential consumers in numerous rate cases and policy dockets before the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Prior to joining CUB, Eisdorfer was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel, and served as a special assistant U.S. attorney.

Eisdorfer has co-authored legislation related to electric utility operations and to climate change, including the Oregon Renewable Energy Act and the Climate Change Integration Act. He is an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark Law School and the University of Oregon School of Law.

He received his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law and received certificates of completion in the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Ocean and Coastal Program. He received his B.A. from the University of Chicago.

David Svanda

Principal, Svanda Consulting
Clarksville, MD

David Svanda is owner and principal of Svanda Consulting, a multi-client firm focused on energy, telecommunications and water issues at the state, regional and national levels.  Since founding his regulatory and strategic consulting practice in 2003, he has successfully advised a broad list of clients from all segments of the public service infrastructure sector, including numerous corporate, non-profit, financial, international, and association interests.

Prior to starting his consulting firm, Svanda was a Michigan Public Service Commissioner.  During his tenure at the PSC, Svanda was a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Local and State Government Advisory Committee and served as Chairman of the Board and President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).  He also served on NARUC’s executive committee and board of directors and was Chairman of NARUC’s Finance and Technology Committee and its Mentoring and New Member Services Committee.  Svanda is also a member of the Emerging Issues Policy Forum Board, past president of the 15-state Mid-American Regulatory Conference (MARC), and has served on the Keystone Energy Board and as trustee of the NARUC Education and Research Foundation.

Previously, he served as Director of Administrative Services for Michigan Governor John Engler, with responsibility for staff offices including scheduling, security, constituent services, and financial operations, and as Director of the Governor’s Northern Michigan Office.  He is a former City Manager and has served on many national, state, regional and local boards.

Svanda earned his Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse University and his B.A. in Political Science/Urban Affairs from Western Illinois University.

Carl Fink

Principal, Blue Planet Energy Law
Portland, OR

Carl Fink is the founder and Managing Counsel, West Region for Blue Planet Energy Law, a law firm dedicated to providing innovative legal advice on transactional and regulatory matters for the energy industry. Fink concentrates his practice on natural gas, renewable power development, environmental commodities and emissions trading, gas and electric transmission and smart grid.

Fink’s transactional experience includes a wide variety of energy-related transactions, including interstate pipeline transportation and storage contracts; renewable energy development; project financings (both for traditional and renewable energy sources); energy and environmental commodity trading; LNG; electric transmission and interconnection agreements; mergers, acquisitions and due diligence; joint venture agreements, shipper and vendor contract negotiations; complex credit and risk negotiations; financing, and all aspects of major greenfield infrastructure development.

In the regulatory arena, Fink has represented interstate pipeline and storage companies and their customers; independent and renewable power projects; smart-grid companies; electric utilities; energy trading companies; and major industrial end-users and in regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the California Air Resources Board (ARB), and various state public service commissions and appellate courts. Fink also advises clients with respect to all issues arising under the Natural Gas Act, Energy Policy Act, Federal Power Act, ARB 32 and numerous other state and federal statutes affecting the energy industry.

Prior to founding Blue Planet Energy Law, LLC, Fink was a partner with the global law firm of K&L Gates. Prior to joining K&L Gates, he was Associate General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer-FERC for TransCanada’s west region pipelines and transmission facilities in the United States, as well as associate general counsel for the PG&E’s National Energy Group, where he was responsible for legal matters related to natural gas for the company’s power generation facilities and interstate pipeline assets. He started his legal career as an attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Fink holds a B.A from the University of Pennsylvania and graduated cum laude from Tulane Law School in 1986.

Observations: How the West Looks from NERC’s Perspective

Robert Cummings

Senior Director of Engineering and Reliability Initiatives, The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
Atlanta, GA

Robert Cummings joined NERC in 1996 and has extensive experience in the industry in system planning, operations engineering, and wide-area planning.

He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of CURENT (Center for Ultra-wide Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks), a National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Engineering Research Center.

His geographically diverse experience includes Central Vermont Public Service Corporation in System Planning (generation and transmission), Public Service Company of New Mexico in Operations Engineering and Wide-area Planning, and the East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement (ECAR) regional office of NERC as the Manager of Transmission Services.

He was a principal investigator of the 2003 Northeast Blackout and the more recent Arizona-Southern California Outage of September 8, 2011, leading multiple event analysis teams in the sequence of events development, modeling and studies (powerflow and dynamics analysis), and transmission/generation performance areas. He directed the NERC Event Analysis program for five years, leading or working on 12 major system disturbance analyses.

Cummings is the “father” of power interchange transaction “tagging” and the Interchange Distribution Calculator for the Eastern Interconnection, which is known as the Enhanced Curtailment Calculator in the Western Electricity Coordination Council.

Cummings was instrumental in the founding of the NERC System Protection and Controls Task Force, now the System Protection and Control Subcommittee, acting as the staff coordinator from 2004 through 2009.

Cummings is the senior staff technical advisor for the NERC System Analysis and Modeling Subcommittee and the System Protection and Controls Subcommittee, and is a technical advisor to the North American Synchro-Phasor Initiative. He is also the technical director of the NERC System Protection Improvement Initiative, the Modeling Improvements Initiative, and the Frequency Response Initiative.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Power System Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is an IEEE Senior Member.

Panel 3
Grid Stability and Change: What’s Needed To Achieve Both?

Todd Hinnen

Partner, Perkins Coie
Seattle, WA

Todd Hinnen is a partner with Perkins Coie’s Privacy & Security practice. He counsels clients and represents them in litigation regarding privacy, data security, compliance with law enforcement and national security issues.  He works closely with the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community.

Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Hinnen was the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  While in office, he led an office of 320 attorneys responsible for overseeing the DOJ’s nationwide counterterrorism, counterespionage and export control programs.  In that capacity, he represented the United States before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court and on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); supervised oversight and compliance programs at law enforcement, intelligence and national security agencies; and testified before Congress on numerous occasions in both open and classified hearings.

Hinnen also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division in charge of the Division’s Internet and cybersecurity, appellate, terrorist financing, and international outreach and capacity building practices. He previously served as Chief Counsel to then-Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Staff Director of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs.  Hinnen counseled Senator Biden and assisted him in drafting legislation relating to the Internet, intellectual property, criminal justice policy and national security.

Hinnen also served under President George W. Bush as a Director in the National Security Council’s Directorate for Combating Terrorism.  He began his career in government as a prosecutor in DOJ’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).  During his tenure with CCIPS, he was the Rapporteur of the G8 Subgroup on High-Tech Crime and the head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization of American States Cybercrime Experts Group.

Ken Nichols

Principal, EQL Energy
Portland, OR

Ken Nichols began EQL Energy to assist governments, utilities and vendors find ways to work together to develop products and services that benefit both the customer and utility. He has influenced rates and program design in utility operations and product development in vendor products and services. Most of the work is related to distributed energy resources, e.g., DSM, demand response, and storage. He has advised utilities on economic analysis and business case development in all areas of utility operations. He has developed and ran commercial and pilot demand response and energy efficiency programs, traded wholesale power and natural gas, consulted on the commercialization of energy storage and energy controls technology, and has worked for investor owned utilities.

Nichols began his energy career at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and has consulted to utilities, policymakers, and stakeholders on integrated resource plans, utility regulation, DSM, DR, risk management, and transmission economics.

He holds B.A. degrees in Physics and Computer Science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and has an M.S. degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

Nate Sandvig

Director, Business Development, National Grid
Portland, OR

Nate Sandvig is a seasoned renewable energy developer currently leading transmission and utility-scale storage business development for National Grid in the western US.

He was previously at MWH Global and several renewable energy companies including EDF Renewable Energy, EDP Renewables and Noble Environmental Power.

Sandvig graduated from the United States Military Academy, is a combat veteran and has a Masters in Project Management from George Washington University.

James “JT” Thompson

President, First Lightenergy Industries
Rosharon, TX

JT Thompson is President of First Lightenergy Industries.  He was the winner of the Vito Stagliano Award for Excellence in Electricity Policy at the 2016 NIPPC Annual Meeting, recognizing his contribution to the industry which spans several decades.

His latest venture started after he sold Gridforce Energy Management to MSouth Equity and Power Generation Services in 2015.  Gridforce and its former entity Constellation Energy Control and Dispatch (CECD) runs Balancing Authority Area operations for 12 separate entities in WECC, SPP and SERC. These BAAs, which NERC consistently finds as superbly run, include transmission dependent munis as well as thermal and wind power generators. The BAAs function on equal terms with utility transmission operators, a status offering opportunities which wouldn’t otherwise exist.

In a major breakthrough for independent power, Thompson proved the efficacy of wind projects operating as their own BAAs. CECD also ran the innovative generation reserves self-supply pilot for Iberdrola’s fleet of windfarms operating within the Bonneville Power Administration’s BAA.

Prior to this, Thompson led Duke Energy Control Area Services, establishing Duke’s merchant fleet under a single NERC-certified Control Area.   When he first moved to Texas, Thompson served as one of Enron’s first power traders, organized Koch Energy’s trading group and helped launch the original Shell Energy Power Group. During this period, Thompson also managed the Houston Light & Power control center and transitioned the company’s assets into the nearly-formed ERCOT market.

In the mid-1980’s, Thompson launched and oversaw a new control center for the City of St. Cloud, Florida’s municipal utility. His growing controls expertise took him to Walt Disney World where he ran its Energy Control Center and certified Disney as its own Control Area.

Thompson started his career as a metallurgist in North America’s largest copper mine, but quickly moved to supervising control center operations, just as the mine started automating key functions.

Banquet Program

Sydney McNiff Johnson

Senior Advisor, Dentons
Washington, DC

Sydney McNiff Johnson is a senior advisor in Dentons’ global energy practice, where she brings years of experience advising clients on domestic and international energy, environmental and government solutions within the government relations and public affairs arenas. Johnson routinely engages her strategic insight on project management for alternative energy and traditional energy clients, as well as her formidable communications strategies to increase client visibility and direct public opinion within government and commercial sectors. She is a skilled negotiator and facilitator with thought leaders and energy policy professionals on a global scale, and advises clients on current energy policy issues and long-term business decisions. Johnson’s practice has a particular focus on energy, transport and infrastructure, government, nuclear, mining and renewable energy issues.

Johnson received a BA in Political Science and Economics from Colorado College, where she wrote her thesis, “A Cost Comparison of Nuclear versus Coal for Electrical Generation 1985–2000.” She has completed two executive education courses at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business: Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Executive (April 2003) and Negotiation and Influence Strategies (April 2004).

FERC: Consistency and Change

Steve Rodgers

Director, Division of Electric Power Regulation – West, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC

The OEMR-West Division Steve Rodgers leads is responsible for processing and addressing the technical aspects of all FERC-jurisdictional electric rate filings for the Western U.S. In addition, the Division is responsible for processing a host of filings for all regions of the U.S. including electric market issues.

Rodgers, a member of the Federal government’s Senior Executive Service, has been at FERC for over 20 years, working on both the commission’s litigation and advisory staff. He has extensive experience in the areas of corporate regulation (including mergers), market-based rates, qualifying facilities, and electric tariff and rate policy.

Rodgers has a B.A. in Economics from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia.

State Of The Industry Address

Robert Kahn

Executive Director, NIPPC
Seattle, WA

Robert Kahn has served as Executive Director of the Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition since its founding in September 2002.

He began his career working as a staff member to the late architect/philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller and after working for Governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento, completed a Doctorate in Education at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in 1982. His dissertation is entitled: “Community Education for Indigenous Renewable Energy Development.”

With the conclusion of the Brown Administration in 1982, Kahn founded Robert D. Kahn & Company, a strategic communications agency. The agency has directed work for over 60 private and public sector clients. The agency is known for its work in energy policy, permit assistance and public acceptance of new technology. For more information see www.rdkco.com

Kahn has worked with independent power producers since the industry’s earliest days in California. He has consulted with developers of proposed power plants totaling over 3500 megawatts of capacity. These projects include thermal (petroleum coke, CCCTs, gas-fired cogeneration, biomass and waste-to-energy) and renewable (wind, biomass, geothermal) power plants.

During the 1990’s Kahn served as a Special Assistant to the Chair of the Comprehensive Review of the Northwest Energy System, as a member of the Washington State Energy Siting Process Review Committee and helped found the Renewable Northwest Project.

Over the last fourteen years, Kahn has managed all aspects of NIPPC’s advocacy and operations. NIPPC is active before FERC; the state utility commissions and legislatures of Idaho, Oregon and Washington; at proceedings of the Bonneville Power Administration and in other venues. The Coalition has grown from a fledgling start-up in 2002 into a forceful advocate for independent power generators regardless of technology.

Panel 4
Alderbrook 2017: What We Know and What We Don’t

David Danner

Chairman, Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission
Olympia, WA

Governor Jay Inslee appointed David W. Danner chairman of the Utilities and Transportation Commission in February 2013.

Danner had been the agency’s executive director since 2005 and secretary since 2008. Before that, he served as executive policy advisor to Washington Gov. Gary Locke on energy, telecommunications, finance and elections issues. In 2004, Gov. Locke named Danner to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board and Shoreline Hearings Board, where he served before moving to the commission.

Danner has also been a telecommunications attorney in private practice, counsel to the Washington Senate Energy and Utilities Committee, and senior policy advisor at the Washington State Department of Information Services.

Danner currently serves on the Energy Resources and Environment (ERE) and International Committees of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). He is a member of the State Technology Services Board, the Board of Directors of the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI), and the Advisory Council of the Center for Public Utilities at the New Mexico State University College of Business.

Danner has a B.A. from Columbia University, an M.A. in communications from the University of Washington, and a law degree from George Washington University.

Travis Kavulla

Commissioner, Montana Public Service Commission
Helena, MT

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, 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 Kavulla 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.

He previously 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 commission, 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.

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.

Kavulla has received a number of honors, including being awarded a year-long, full-time writing fellowship in 2008 from the Phillips Foundation.

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.

Sharon Nelson

Former Board Member, Itron
Seattle, WA

Sharon Nelson is a retired lawyer who now sits on a number of boards of directors.  She serves on the boards of Cascade Public Media (KCTS-9 and Crosscut) as well as the board of Carbon WA.

Nelson previously served as a director of Itron, a company headquartered in Spokane, WA (2003-2016), and as a commissioner on the National Commission on Energy Policy (2002-2010.)  She also served on the board of Consumers Union from 1984-2008 (eight years as Chair) and on the board of the non-profit North American Electric Reliability Corporation from 1999-2010, and two telecom companies, Covad and XO Communications.

Her employment history includes serving as Chief of the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington Attorney General’s Office from 2003-2006 and as the Director of the Shidler Center for Law, Commerce and Technology at the University of Washington School of Law from 2000-2003.

Nelson served as Chairman of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission from 1985-97 and as President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in 1989-90.  Prior volunteer experience includes non profit local boards as well as study groups with National Academies of Sciences.

She received her B.A. from Carleton College, M.A.T. from the University of Chicago, and her J.D. from the University of Washington.

Malcolm McLellan

Partner, Van Ness Feldman
Seattle, WA 


Malcolm McLellan is a partner at the Van Ness Feldman, LLP law firm.  His practice focuses on the transmission, generation, marketing, and distribution of electric energy.  His counseling includes electric transmission and ancillary services, rates, reliability standards, enforcement actions and investigations, market based rate authority, and hydroelectric licenses.  His transactional experience includes power purchases and sales, interconnection and transmission access, and asset sales.

McLellan has a B.A. from the University of Washington and earned his J.D. cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law.