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Published on December 13th, 2015 | by Elemental Excelerator

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15 For 2015: Women In Cleantech

December 13th, 2015 by  


Aloha, Dawn here. As 2015 comes to a close, the Energy Excelerator team would like to recognize our fellow innovators paving the way for the next generation of cleantech leaders. There is nothing more powerful to me than working with others who are excellent at what they do and are committed wholeheartedly to a vision. Here are 15 female colleagues and pioneers doing just that:

1. Kate Brandt is Lead for Sustainability at Google, managing sustainability across Google’s worldwide operations and products. 2015 was a big year for her, moving from her position as the nation’s first Chief Sustainability Officer to managing sustainability across Google’s universe of companies.

2. Lisa Jackson became known to most as Obama’s head of the EPA. Her move to Apple as VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives took her to the private sector in a big way. This year, Apple made headlines by extending its sustainability impact further up the supply chain, building 200 MW of solar in China, and working with partners to boost efficiency.

3. Amanda Ravenhill is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Project Drawdown. She and Project Drawdown Co-founder Paul Hawken are creating the most comprehensive database of financial, social, and environmental impacts of 100 climate solutions over the next 30 years. This will manifest in a book and open-source database. In 2015, she is leading communications efforts at the UN climate negotiations in Paris.

15 for 2015: Amanda Ravenhill

4. Audrey Zibelman is Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission, which over the past 24 months created some of the most forward-looking utility regulations in the country under Governor Cuomo’s “Reforming the Energy Vision (REV).” The New York REV set a goal of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, 50% generation of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, and 23% decrease in energy consumption in buildings from 2012 levels in a state that’s home to the most populous city in the country.

5. Nancy Pfund is Founder and Managing Partner at DBL (Double Bottom Line) Investors. She sponsors or sits on the board of directors of industry-leading companies, such as SolarCity, Bright­Source Energy, Tesla Motors, and more. This year, she brought impact investing mainstream and led DBL to close a $400 million fund, providing a huge capital resource for new energy companies.

SOCAP TV_slides_2015.002

6. Carla Peterman is a Commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). She recently led the CPUC’s adoption of an energy storage procurement framework and the first mandatory US utility program for purchasing energy storage. She oversees CPUC’s $1 billion-plus annual customer-funded energy efficiency program, leads implementation of California’s new 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard, and runs the CPUC’s alternative vehicle program, which aims to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

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7. Katherine Hamilton is a Co-founder and Principal at 38 North Solutions, a public policy firm focused on clean energy and innovation. She has been an advisor for the Energy Storage Association and President of the GridWise Alliance. She was recently named an Ambassador to the Secretary of Energy’s Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) and joins Jigar Shah and Stephen Lacy weekly on Greentech Media’s Energy Gang podcast.

8. Connie Lau is the President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Born and raised in Honolulu, she joined Hawaiian Electric in 1984. Since 2012, she has chaired the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises President Obama through the Department of Homeland Security on the security of the critical infrastructure sectors and their information systems, including both the energy and financial services sectors. In 2015, she made headlines with the proposed sale of Hawaiian Electric to NextEra Energy.

15 for 2015 - Connie Lau

9. Grace Overlander is manager of New Product Introduction for Tesla Motors where she is responsible for the successful launch of more than a dozen products across more than 12 production lines at Tesla Motors. Her team launched new battery and electrics components that are at the heart of the Model X sport utility vehicle. This year, she was part of the team responsible for introducing Tesla Energy.

10. Erica Mackey is Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Off Grid Electric Ltd. She leads one of the world’s first massively scalable, off-grid electric companies, which delivers reliable, affordable energy to African communities. In 2015, the company raised $25M to provide over 100,000 African homes with clean, modern electricity.

11. Danielle Fong is the Co-founder and Chief Scientist at LightSail Energy, which is pioneering a novel energy storage system using compressed air. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Fong dropped out of junior high school at the age of 12 to attend university and graduated at age 17. 2015 brought the announcement of LightSail’s first large-scale commercial project.

12. Emily Kirsch is Co-founder and CEO of Powerhouse, an incubator dedicated to solar startups (formerly SfunCube). The Oakland-based incubator boasts 20+ startups and 100+ entrepreneurs. Its portfolio includes Mosaic and recently acquired Sunible. Powerhouse and its companies have contributed to the installation of more than 500 MW of solar in the US in 2014.

13. Lynn Jurich is the CEO and Co-founder of Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the United States. To date, Sunrun customers have generated more than 1.3 terawatt-hours of clean electricity and saved more than $100 million collectively on their electricity bills. In 2015, Sunrun passed the 100,000 home mark.

14. Sarah Kearney is the Executive Director of the PRIME Coalition, a nonprofit that helps philanthropic foundations connect with new cleantech ventures. This year, it made big news by connecting the Will and Jada Smith Foundation with a new energy storage startup, mobilizing private investment in the impact space.

15. Avra Durack is head of strategic partnerships and operations for Stem, Inc., a leading energy storage and analytics company. She was formerly a Climate Corps Fellow and President at One Block Off the Grid (1BOG). Stem had another huge year, kicking off a $2.1-million demonstration project with Energy Excelerator and the utility in Hawaii, and bidding aggregated customer storage into the California ISO (CAISO) real-time market as a demand response resource.


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About the Author

Elemental Excelerator helps startups change the world, one community at a time. Each year, we find 12-15 companies that best fit our mission and fund each company up to $1 million to improve systems that impact people’s lives: energy, water, agriculture, and transportation.



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