Municipal Utilities and Cooperatives: Transitioning to a Lower-Carbon Future Conference

This conference is co-sponsored by the Florida State University College of Law, Environmental, Energy & Land Use Program and by the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics at the University of North Carolina School of Law.



Download event white paper PDF here.

Municipally-owned utilities (munis) and electric cooperatives (co-ops) provide electricity to millions of customers throughout the United States. Yet the important role of munis and co-ops is sometimes overlooked in the field of energy law. Recent market changes, such as rapidly declining costs of solar photovoltaic panels and wind energy, have led to dramatic changes in the U.S. energy mix. As consumers respond to these changes by demanding more diverse sources of energy, including lower-carbon options like renewable and nuclear energy, munis and co-ops will be at the forefront of this transition. As compared to large investor-owned utilities, munis and co-ops often have the flexibility to nimbly shift energy supply and respond to changes in customer preferences and the market. But these entities will also face challenges in this transition. For example, many contracts for the sale of electricity include long-term purchase commitments that are difficult to modify, and substantial investments in power plants make it difficult to decommission plants before the end of their useful life. 

This conference will explore the practical and legal opportunities and challenges faced by munis and co-ops transitioning to lower-carbon energy sources. It will provide perspectives from diverse geographic areas and from large and small entities, featuring speakers that include co-op and muni CEOs, in-house counsel, and academics, among others.


Friday, March 24, 2017, 8:00AM - 3:30PM



(Subject to minor additions as we await confirmation from several unlisted panelists.)

8:00-8:30 am: 

8:30-8:45 am: 
Conference Introduction

8:45-10:15 am: 
Panel 1 - Differences between small and large co-ops/munis serving rural, low-density versus concentrated consumer populations

This panel will address how municipal utilities and co-operatives of different sizes—serving concentrated urban populations and less-dense rural populations—have transitioned to lower-carbon energy. Panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities these organizations have faced in undergoing this transition. Panelists will also address issues such as the most feasible lower-carbon energy sources for more rural organizations—for example, whether rooftop solar panels are more efficient/practical in rural areas due to distribution costs that are already relatively high.

Moderator: Alexandra Klass, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

• Randolph Elliott, Senior Regulatory Counsel, American Public Power Association 
• Ingmar Sterzing, Vice President of Supply and Energy Services, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
• Richard Whisnant, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Policy, University of North Carolina School of Government

10:30-11:45 am:
Panel 2 - Transitioning from utility-scale coal-fired generation to other options; stranded cost issues

This panel will address munis’ and co-ops’ efforts to reduce reliance on coal-fired power and the challenges associated with this transition, including, for example, stranded costs, as well as the opportunities the transition presents. Panelists will discuss the types of coal alternatives that munis and co-ops have implemented (renewables, small nuclear reactors, etc.) and specific legal, economic, and practical issues associated with these alternatives, such as the need to build new transmission lines connecting wind and solar farms with load centers.

Moderator: Troy Rule, Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Program on Law and Sustainability, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

• Douglas Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems
• Terry Jarrett, Associate, Healy Law Offices, LLC
• Dalia Patino-Echeverri—Gendell Assistant Professor of Energy Systems and Public Policy, Duke Nicholas School of the Environment

11:45 am-12:30 pm:

Dan O’Hagan, Associate General Counsel, Florida Municipal Power Agency

12:30-1:45 pm:
Panel 3 - Expanding purchasing options—consumer “green buying” options; muni and co-op PPAs for renewable energy

This panel will address how munis have expanded opportunities for customers to choose “green” energy service or have reduced their carbon footprint by relying primarily on purchased renewable or other lower-carbon power or a combination of PPAs and muni-constructed and muni-operated plants. 

Moderator: Heather Payne, Assistant Director for the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics, University of North Carolina School of Law

• David Hornbacher, Director of Utilities and Environmental Initiatives, City of Aspen, CO
• Joel Ivy, General Manager, Lakeland Electric, FL
• Arlen Orchard, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, CA 

2:00-3:30 pm: 
Panel 4 - Expanding self-supply/muni and co-op-built and operated renewable generation—case studies

This panel will address how munis—as well as municipalities that do not own and operate utilities—have implemented their own lower-carbon programs, such as constructing and operating solar and wind farms and other low-carbon plants, or installing or supporting distributed generation or energy efficiency programs. 

Moderator: Shelley Welton, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina Gould School of Law 

• Khalil Shalabi, Vice President of Energy Market Operations and Resource Planning, Austin, TX
• Pamala Sullivan, Executive Vice President Power Supply and Generation, American Municipal Power, Inc., Columbus, OH
• David Tuohey, Director of Communications & External Affairs, Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. 

Expert audience members: 
• Diane Cherry, Strategic Director, NC Sustainable Energy Association
• Jonas Monast, conference co-organizer, C. Boyden Gray Distinguished Fellow, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Center on Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics (CE3), University of North Carolina School of Law
• Kim Mullins, Research Associate, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota



kristin-athens_edit.jpgKristin Athens, 3L
University of North Carolina School of Law

Kristin Athens is a third-year student at the University of North Carolina School of Law. She is a member of the Holderness Environmental Appellate Advocacy team and the UNC Environmental Law Project. Athens has interned for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s utility regulation division and worked for her local municipal’s attorney’s office. This past fall, Athens clerked at the NC Supreme Court for the Honorable Sam Ervin, IV. She is dedicated to pro bono work, working on projects focused on coal ash and natural gas regulation. Additionally, she published a paper in the NCBA Environmental Division’s newsletter on North Carolina’s solar energy market. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree, with distinction.

dianecherry_web.jpgDiane Cherry, Strategic Director
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association

Diane Cherry is the strategic director at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. In this role, she works with NCSEA and its stakeholders to ensure North Carolina’s energy path becomes incrementally more sustainable, consistent with the organization’s mission and strategic objectives. Cherry also teaches U.S. environmental policy, written communication and other subjects in the master in public administration program at North Carolina State University. She holds a graduate degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Virginia. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina.


randyelliott_web.jpgRandolph Elliot, Senior Regulatory Counsel  
American Public Power Association

Randolph Elliott is senior regulatory counsel at the American Public Power Association. He assists APPA and its members with energy policy analysis and advocacy before federal courts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other agencies and policy forums. Before joining APPA in 2014, Elliot was in private law practice in Washington, D.C., where he represented municipal utilities, electric cooperatives and other clients. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Law School. After law school, he served as a clerk for Judge Thomas P. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.


david-hornbacher_web.jpgDavid Hornbacher, Director of Utilities and Environmental Initiatives  
City of Aspen, CO

For over 30 years, David Hornbacher has held a diversity of roles in the Colorado utilities sector. In 2010 he joined the City of Aspen, and is the director of the Utilities and Environmental Health and Sustainability Agency.  This agency is responsible for a broad range of services and programs in Aspen including water and electric operations and hydroelectric energy production, environmental health services and sustainability, the highly acclaimed Canary action program for climate action and resiliency planning, conservation and efficiencies programs and other environmental initiatives and supporting utilities projects. Previously, Hornbacher was the manager of New Business Design for Xcel Energy, responsible for the Boulder (Colorado) Regional electric and gas design group with direct involvement on the “Smart Grid City" implementation team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Colorado State University.


doug-hunter_web.jpgDoug Hunter, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager 
Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems 

Doug Hunter is the chief executive officer and general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. Hunter joined UAMPS in December of 1983 and is a 35 year veteran of the electric utility industry. Prior to his appointment as general manager in 1995, he served as assistant general manager and manager of Municipal Resources of UAMPS. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis. He currently serves as the past chair on the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Executive Committee and has served on the APPA Board of Directors.


joel-ivy_web.jpgJoel Ivy, General Manager
Lakeland Electric, FL

Joel Ivy has a 33-year career path that spans climbing utility poles to managing multi-hundred million dollar operations with start-ups, investor owned and publicly owned utilities. Past experience includes his tenure as chief operating officer at Visible Light Solar Technologies and vice president of New Mexico Operations for Public Service Company of New Mexico. He served in the public sector as the interim energy manager for the Imperial Irrigation District, located in El Centro, California. He is now serving as the general manager for Lakeland Electric, a department of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Ivy graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.


terry-jarrett_web.jpgTerry Jarrett, Associate
Healy Law Offices, LLC

As a former state utility regulator in Missouri, and as an attorney and consultant in private practice, Terry Jarrett has a wealth of experience in all aspects of regulatory affairs, including state public service and utility commissions, state and federal regulations, regional transmission planning and operations, and public policy issues. In 2001, Jarrett was appointed as chief legal counsel in the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, where he became a trusted legal and policy advisor. In 2004, Jarrett became chief legal counsel to Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. In 2007, Governor Blunt appointed Jarrett to the Missouri Public Service Commission. During his time as a commissioner, he became a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility and regulatory issues. Jarrett joined Healy Law Offices, LLC in September 2013. He represents clients nationally on a wide range of issues affecting the power sector.


klass_web.jpgAlexandra Klass, Distinguished McKnight University Professor  
University of Minnesota Law School 

Alexandra Klass teaches and writes in the areas of energy law, environmental law, natural resources law, tort law and property law at the University of Minnesota Law School. She was named the Stanley V. Kinyon Teacher of the Year for 2009-2010, and she served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2010-2012. She was a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in 2015. Prior to her teaching career, Klass was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis, where she specialized in environmental law, natural resources, and land use cases. She earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin. 


jonas-monast_web.jpgJonas Monast, C. Boyden Gray Distinguished Fellow, Assistant Professor and Co-Director 
of the Center on Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics (CE3)
University of North Carolina School of Law

Jonas Monast is the inaugural C. Boyden Gray Distinguished Fellow at Carolina Law and co-directs the Center on Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics (CE3). Monast’s work focuses on the interaction of federal and state energy policies, aligning energy and environmental policy goals, and regulatory options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to joining the Carolina Law faculty, he directed the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and taught courses on energy and environmental issues at Duke University’s School of Law and Nicholas School of the Environment. Monast has also worked as an attorney in the Corporate Social Responsibility Practice at Foley Hoag LLP, as a congressional fellow for the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and as legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending. Monast earned his law degree from Georgetown University and his B.A. from Appalachian State University. 


ohagan_web.jpgDan O'Hagan, Associate General Counsel
Florida Municipal Power Agency

Dan O’Hagan is the associate general counsel of Florida Municipal Power Agency. He has been with FMPA since 2004. He graduated with a J.D. from Florida State University College of Law and a B.A. from Northern Illinois University. His role with FMPA includes providing counsel to both in-house staff and FMPA’s 31 municipal electric utility members on a wide range of utility matters, with particular focus on federal and state regulatory compliance and legal support for FMPA’s power resources and operations divisions. O'Hagan was heavily involved in the development and ongoing implementation of Florida’s municipal utility net metering programs for customer-owned renewable generation, and continues to work closely with FMPA staff in exploring renewable energy opportunities for FMPA’s members.


shannon-o-39-neil_web.jpgShannon O'Neil, 3L
University of North Carolina School of Law

Shannon O'Neil is a third-year student at the University of North Carolina School of Law and currently serves as editor-in-chief of the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology. She first developed an interest in energy policy while working as a research assistant for UNC’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3). She built upon that experience during her time interning with FERC’s Office of the General Counsel, and will return to FERC full-time following graduation. She received her B.A. in environmental studies and economics from UNC.


arlenorchard_web.jpgArlen Orchard, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager 
Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Arlen Orchard, who previously served as Sacramento Municipal Utility District's general counsel, was named chief executive officer and general manager in April 2014. As CEO, he leads the sixth largest community-owned electric utility in the nation serving a population of 1.5 million residents and managing a $1.6 billion budget. Orchard serves on the boards of directors of the American Public Power Association and the Northwest Public Power Association, and on the boards of directors and executive committees of the California Municipal Utilities Association and the Large Public Power Council. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Valley Vision, WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), and the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council. Orchard frequently speaks on issues impacting the electric utility industry. He received a J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law, a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno, and attended UCD’s Graduate School of Management.


dalia-patino-echeverri_web.jpgDalia Patiño-EcheverriGendell Assistant Professor of Energy Systems and Public Policy
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University 

Dalia Patiño-Echeverri is assistant professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where she studies the economic and environmental impacts of power generation technologies, market rules, and policies affecting capital investment and operating decisions within the electricity industry.  She is also adjunct associate professor at the Engineering and Public Policy Department at Carnegie Mellon University and co-principal investigator of the NSF Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making. She received B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in industrial engineering from University of The Andes, Bogotá, Colombia and a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.


heather-payne_edit.jpgHeather PayneAssistant Director for the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3)
University of North Carolina School of Law 

Heather Payne is assistant director and fellow of the University of North Carolina School of Law's Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3). She also teaches International Environmental Law as an adjunct assistant professor of law at UNC School of Law, where she obtained her J.D. in 2011. Before joining CE3, she served as a judicial clerk for Judge Martha Geer on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and worked in the private sector for nine years before attending law school.  She received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Payne focuses her scholarship on energy and water law. In addition to her CE3 responsibilities, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). 


troyrule_web.jpgTroy Rule, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Program on Law and Sustainability 
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University  

Troy Rule is professor of law and faculty director of the Program on Law and Sustainability at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Prior to entering academia, Rule was an attorney at K&L Gates LLP in Seattle, where his practice focused primarily on commercial real estate transactions and wind energy development. His research focuses mainly on emerging property law and regulatory issues involving wind energy, solar energy, and domestic drones. In recent years, he has worked under multi-year funding from the United States Department of Energy to analyze and develop municipal ordinances to govern solar access disputes among neighbors and to mandate distributed solar energy features on new real estate development projects. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 2005, where he served on the Chicago Journal of International Law and was a John M. Olin Student Fellow in Law & Economics.

khalilshalabi_web.jpgKhalil Shalabi, Vice President of Energy Market Operations and Resource Planning 
Austin Energy

Khalil Shalabi joined Austin Energy in December 2013 as vice president of strategy, technology & markets. On his arrival, Shalabi worked with myriad stakeholders to develop and update the Austin Energy Generation Resource Plan, which was approved by Austin City Council in December 2014. Prior to Austin Energy, he was the chief technology officer at the New York Power Authority where he worked from 2006 until 2013.  He has also had assignments at Consolidated Edison and Entergy Nuclear in operations, maintenance, engineering, finance, risk management and business consulting in all aspects of the electric utility industry including distribution, transmission and generation. Shalabi has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s in mechanical engineering from Columbia University and an M.B.A. in finance and management from the Stern School of Business at NYU. 

sterzing_web.jpgIngmar Sterzing, Vice President of Power Supply and Energy Services 
Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Ingmar Sterzing is currently serving as vice president of Power Supply and Energy Services for Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) in Johnson City, Texas.  As VP of Power Supply and Energy Services, Sterzing leads energy management strategies as well as the planning, directing and execution of the cooperative’s power supply, developing and maintaining competitive rate plans and pricing options, supplying members with beneficial energy programs and services, developing new energy projects, and managing energy regulatory affairs within ERCOT. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.B.A. from University of Texas at Austin. He also earned a M.S. in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.


pamsullivan_web.jpgPamala "Pam" Sullivan, Executive Vice President of Power Supply and Generation 
American Municipal Power, Inc. 

As executive vice president of power supply and generation, Pam Sullivan provides oversight to AMP’s power supply services and generation resources, including the company’s energy trading floor, commodity procurement, power supply planning, generation operations, transmission affairs, renewable generation development, as well as marketing AMP’s various power supply projects and programs to its 133 member communities. She has been with AMP since 2003, starting as director of marketing and development. She also served as vice president of marketing and senior vice president of marketing and operation. Before joining the organization she was vice president of marketing for SFT, a consulting engineering firm, where she was responsible for developing and implementing marketing plans and strategies, as well as providing project management services for municipal electric utility transmission/distribution projects. She holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo.


davidtuohey_web.jpgDavid Tuohey, Director of Communications and External Affairs 
Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company 

David Tuohey is director of communications and external affairs for the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), the Joint Action Agency for Massachusetts municipal utilities. Tuohey's responsibilities include management of MMWEC's external and internal communications functions, including member, public and media relations; legislative and regulatory affairs; publications production; and oversight of five corporate websites. He also manages an MMWEC agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities through which the 40 Massachusetts municipal utilities receive an allocation of federal preference power from the Niagara Hydroelectric Project in New York. Prior to joining MMWEC in 1984, he worked as an editor and reporter at daily newspapers in Colorado, Texas and Massachusetts. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

welton_2_web.jpgSheldon "Shelley" Welton, Assistant Professor 
University of South Carolina Gould School of Law 

Shelley Welton is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Her research focuses on how climate change is transforming energy and environmental law and governance. Her recent scholarship has examined the role that publicly owned utilities might play in decarbonization and the equity challenges raised by transforming the grid to encourage consumer participation. She teaches administrative law, environmental law and policy, and climate change law. Welton is currently completing a Ph.D. in Law at Yale Law School. Prior to Yale, she worked as the Deputy Director and Earth Institute Climate Law Fellow at Columbia Law School's Center for Climate Change Law and served as a clerk for the Honorable David Trager of the Eastern District of New York and the Honorable Allyson Duncan of the Fourth Circuit. Shelley received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, a Master of Public Administration in environmental science and policy from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and her B.A. from the University 
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


whisnant_richard_web.jpgRichard Whisnant, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Policy
University of North Carolina School of Government 

Richard Whisnant joined the Institute of Government in 1998. Prior to that, he was general counsel with the NC Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources. He had previously practiced environmental law with Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a clerk for the Hon. Sam J. Ervin III on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Whisnant earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.P.P. and J.D. from Harvard University.


Course approved for 6.5 general CLE credits.
$50 CLE registration fee (includes continental breakfast and lunch)

Telephone: 850.645.8749 • Email: