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10th Sustainable Energy Conference Offers Informative, Prestigious Lineup

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, the leader of one of North Carolina’s most dynamic energy product innovators, the sustainability chief of one of the nation’s top craft brewers and the Electric Vehicle Manager with Nissan Leaf in Tennessee, will highlight presentations at the N.C. Dept. of Commerce Energy Office’s 10th annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh April 15-17.

“The state’s clean energy sector has been identified as one of the top national growth trends, vaulting North Carolina into a top-tier state for clean energy jobs and lifting the entire Southeast with it, said N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “Energy activity and issues will continue to dominate the state’s economic development landscape and will be front-and-center at our annual Sustainable Energy Conference.”  

In addition to the conference’s traditional agenda, a bonus Smart Grid Forum, highlighting growth and developments in the state’s substantial Smart Grid sector of the energy economy, has been added to the conference lineup with a keynote from Eric Lightner, director of the federal Smart Grid Taskforce.

All conference sessions will take place at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center, at the corner of Western Blvd. and Gorman St. in Raleigh. The full agenda for the conference is available online at: http://www.sustainable-energy-conference.org/agenda.html

Keynote speakers include:

  • Marilyn Brown, a professor of energy policy in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, will deliver the opening keynote at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16.  Brown is a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The prize was awarded jointly to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • James Ellis, electric vehicle manager for Nissan North America.  Ellis is former senior manager for transportation and infrastructure for the Tennessee Valley Authority.  He will speak at noon on Tuesday, April 16.
  • Ty Mitchell, Executive Vice President for Cree Inc.; Cree is leading the LED lighting revolution and making energy-wasting traditional lighting technologies obsolete through the use of energy-efficient, mercury-free LED lighting.  Mitchell oversees the rapidly growing business focusing on commercial and residential LED lighting.  He will speak at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17.
  • Cheri Chastain has, for more than six years, been sustainability coordinator for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the Chico, Calif.-based craft beer brewer that is expanding with a major east-coast presence in Asheville.  She is responsible for maintaining current policies and projects, and working on new project development along with monitoring energy use, conservation, and generation; managing waste avoidance, recycling, and composting efforts as well as researching and implementing alternative fuel options and works toward water conservation and reuse.  She will speak at noon on Wednesday, April 17.
  • Eric Lightner, director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force, has worked as a manager for advanced technology in the U.S. Department of Energy for the last 18 years.  As head of the Smart Grid Taskforce, it is his mission to ensure awareness, coordination and integration of smart grid-related activities throughout the federal government.  He will open the Smart Grid Forum at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 15.  The forum will also include specially-focused panels and sessions.

As elected officials debate potential development for fossil fuels, Environment Entrepreneurs, a national organization of energy innovators, recognizes North Carolina’s clean energy sector as one of the top growing in the nation.  The growth in deployment of solar energy has been one of the state’s economic development bright spots during the depths of the great recession.  Solar Energy sector jobs in North Carolina added 21,160 jobs while the general economy shed more than 100,000.

Panel discussions will feature several topics including: wind and solar power; onshore and offshore fossil fuel exploration, sustainable agriculture; renewable energy project finance and others.  In addition, there will be a special exhibit of alternative and plug-in electronic vehicles.