Speaker Bios


Friday, October 18, 2019
Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WA
Conference + Exhibition + Reception


Following is a list of speakers and panelists slated to speak at the 2019 Washington State Solar Summit (in alphabetical order by last name). 

Carlyle_Reuven-150.jpg Senator Reuven Carlyle
36th Legislative District
Speaking topic: As chair of the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee, Senator Reuven Carlyle will provide a legislative update on solar developments in Washington. His remarks will include an in-depth discussion of the Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act, which moves Washington off coal by 2025 and to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2045.

Sen. Reuven Carlyle represents Washington's 36th Legislative District. A state representative for seven years prior to his election to the Senate in 2016, he served as chair of the Finance Committee and a budget writer, and passed sweeping legislation ensuring open transparency of the value of tax preferences. He now chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, where he has led on climate action including nationally recognized 100% clean energy legislation, consumer data privacy, net neutrality and more. When not in Olympia serving as a citizen legislator, he provides strategic management consulting. His wife, Dr. Wendy Carlyle, is an anesthesiologist at Swedish Medical Center and they have four children.
Reeves_150.jpg Reeves Clippard
Founder, CEO, A&R Solar
Speaking topic: What's driving the local Washington market?

Reeves Clippard is co-founder and CEO of A&R Solar, an employee-owned Social Purpose Corporation with 25 employee-owners and 90 employees across Washington and Oregon. A&R Solar specializes in deploying solar energy technologies for homeowners, businesses, communities, and governmental agencies -- to date, A&R has completed more than 2,500 solar installations throughout the Pacific Northwest totaling over 30 megawatts. A&R has been named one of the PSBJ’s fastest growing companies for 3 consecutive years as well as receiving King County Executive's Small Business Award for Workforce Development in 2015 and recognized as one of Washington's Best Workplaces. Before moving to Seattle, Reeves called North Carolina home and graduated from Appalachian State University with a BSBA in Computer Information Systems and Spanish. Reeves has been working in the solar industry since 2005. He serves on the board of Farm Power NW, CleanTech Alliance, and is the previous Chair of the Clean Energy Technology & Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee at Shoreline Community College. Reeves maintains several certifications from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
Daniel_150.jpg Daniel Finn-Foley
Head of Energy Storage, Wood Mackenzie
Speaking topic: Lessons learned from the U.S. solar + storage market.

Dan is the Head of the Energy Storage team within Wood Mackenzie’s Energy Transition practice, where he covers global energy storage trends. He previously worked as a Senior Consultant with DNV GL where he focused on competitive energy markets and the intersection of emerging energy business strategies within the broader evolving technological and regulatory environment. Prior to DNV GL Dan worked with Navigant Consulting and the Department of Energy. Dan has over 10 years of experience in the energy space as a researcher, consultant, and analyst. Dan holds a Master’s of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Wind Energy Center and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics-Physics from Brown University.
Haley150.jpg Haley Gardner
Specialist, Zero Energy, International Living Future Institute
Speaking topic: Haley will speak about ILFI’s role in creating pathways that make solar energy abundant, equitable, and scalable from a building perspective.

Haley supports the Zero Energy and Zero Carbon Certification programs at the International Living Future Institute. She provides technical guidance on how buildings can achieve net-positive carbon on a life cycle scale while maximizing their energy efficiency. Haley recently completed her master’s thesis wherein she performed a whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA) of a Living Building to identify where high environmental impacts occur over the building’s life cycle. She brings this knowledge of both Living Buildings and LCA to ILFI in order to administer the Zero Energy and Zero Carbon Certifications through a technical lens while considering comprehensive life cycle impacts; this allows her to approach problems with a systems perspective. She has experience working for large energy companies and general contractors, and is elated to finally have made it to her dream career of working on green buildings. A civil engineer by training, Haley received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech along with a Master of Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a diehard Hokie fanatic (as they all are) and misses Blacksburg dearly, but is thrilled to be living in Seattle as she is much closer to her Southern California family. While not daydreaming about green buildings, Haley enjoys watching and playing soccer, catching up on her favorite shows, and enjoying the beautiful landscape of the PNW.

Kirk Haffner
Owner, South Sound Solar
Speaking topic: Giving an overview and discussion of the Washington solar recycling law on the books.

Kirk Haffner, M.S. is a former award winning High School math and science teacher. After earning his Master’s in Physics, he became president of South Sound Solar, leading an experienced team of electricians, project managers, and sales technicians. With a focus on a commitment to green living, he assists in the design and planning of almost every project. As part of his passion for education, Kirk is a regular presenter at local schools, organizations, and colleges such as St Martins University, Centralia College and The Evergreen State College.

Bob_Kirchmeier150.jpg Bob Kirchmeier
P.E., Senior Energy Policy Specialist, Clean Energy Fund Grid Modernization Program, Washington State Department of Commerce
Speaking topic: Giving an overview of several solar + energy storage programs co-funded by the Washington State Clean Energy Fund Grid Modernization program.

Bob is a technical advisor and program manager in the Energy Division of the Washington State Department of Commerce. His focus since 2013 has been developing Grid Modernization projects with electric utilities through Clean Energy Funds provided by Washington State. Before that he was the Senior Manager for Substations, Metering and Telecommunications at Snohomish PUD and spent 25 years at Tacoma Power working on a wide variety of generation, substation, protection, communication, transmission and distribution automation projects. Bob has over 36 years working for Northwest electric utilities and is a licensed professional electrical engineer in Washington State.
Lauren150.jpg Lauren McCloy
Senior Policy Advisor, Energy, Governor Jay Inslee
Speaking topic: 2019 wins and the staging of opportunities in Washington.

Lauren McCloy is a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jay Inslee, Washington State, where she leads and manages a broad range of issues in support of the Governor’s energy agenda. Prior to her current role, Lauren served as the Legislative Director for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), where she was the commission's liaison to the state Legislature and the Governor's office; developed and coordinated the UTC's legislative activities. Lauren was previously a policy advisor at the UTC, advised the commissioners on energy policy and legislative issues starting in 2014. Before joining the UTC's policy staff, Lauren worked as a Compliance Investigator in the UTC's Consumer Protection Division. She has prior experience working for the Washington state Senate Ways and Means Committee and several non-profit organizations focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and consumer advocacy. Lauren has a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University Law School. She is a recipient of the American Council on Germany’s 2017 McCloy Fellowship on Global Trends, where her research is focused on transatlantic cooperation on consumer protection and data governance issues associated with the energy transition.
Austin150.jpg Austin Perea
Senior Solar Analyst, Wood Mackenzie
Speaking topic: National trends and forecasts (and where Washington fits in).

Austin Perea is a Senior Analyst for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables where he leads up the firm’s distributed solar coverage as the primary author of the U.S. solar market insight report series. Prior to joining Wood Mackenzie (formerly GTM Research), Austin worked at The Boston Consulting Group, where he supported the energy practice as a research associate. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in economics and political science and a minor in Middle Eastern studies from the University of New Hampshire.

Jeremy Smithson
Owner, Puget Sound Solar
Speaking topic: Giving an overview and discussion of the Washington solar recycling law on the books.

Jeremy started Puget Sound Solar in 2001 with 30 years of construction contracting experience, and a desire to turn Seattle on to solar energy. Achieving NABCEP certification in 2004, Jeremy believes that our customers often follow a path similar to the one he took, starting out with solar daydreaming, then progressing to education on the subject, and eventually leading to action. In addition to leading the company he also does some teaching and speaking engagements about various aspects of solar energy, and experiments relentlessly with various solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle projects. 

Jason_Thackston150.jpg Jason Thackston
Senior Vice President, Energy Resources, Avista Utilities
Speaking topic: An electric utility’s perspective of building upon the largest utility scale solar project in Washington and moving toward a 100% clean electric grid. Opportunities and challenges of renewable integration while maintaining reliability and affordability.

Jason Thackston is senior vice president, energy resources for Avista. He joined the company in 1996, where he previously held leadership positions in customer solutions, energy delivery, finance, risk management, investor relations, and corporate development. Thackston holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Whitworth University with a major in international studies and an emphasis in business management. He earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Gonzaga University. He serves as chair of the Whitworth University board of trustees as well as on the boards of the Spokane County United Way, the Association of Washington Business, the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee, and the Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County. Jason and his wife Julie enjoy all that Spokane has to offer, and they have five children ranging in age from a middle school student to a married law school student.
Edwin150.jpg Sam Vanderhoof
Speaking topic: CEO, Recycle PV Solar, LLC; President of Solar CowboyZ
Speaking on the topic of PV recycling

Sam is a veteran in the solar PV industry, beginning in 1976. Sam was instrumental in the formation of the following companies: Independent Power Company/Kyocera, Trace Engineering/Xantrex, Schott, SMA America, Petra Solar and recently with Solar CowboyZ. Sam serves as an advisor to SEI (Solar Energy International), Sierra College, and is the Director for PVICC codes and standards committee.
Dean_Van_Vleet-100.jpg Dean Van Vleet
President, Solar Washington; Owner, Solar Forensic Services
Speaking topic: Intro & Welcome

Dean is the owner of Solar Forensic Services, a solar module and inverter quality auditing and investigative service, and has worked in the Washington State renewable energy industry for over 20 years.  In 1997 he joined Trace Engineering (later purchased by Xantrex Technology) to design and launch early grid-tie inverters and off-grid products. In 2007 he joined OutBack Power and helped created a spin off PV module division known as Silicon Energy. He was one of the primary design team members for Silicon Energy’s Cascade double glass PV module. While also working with Silicon Energy, he worked as an Application Engineer for OutBack. In 2011 he was one of the founding members of Itek Energy to bring to full scale PV module production in Washington State and served as their Process Engineering Manager for over 6 years. Dean has used PV and battery backed up inverters at home for over 18 years and recently upgraded his system with a 5kW PV array. Dean has an Industrial Electronics degree from Renton Technical College and has been a SolarWA member for over 15 years actively promoted the expansion of solar energy in Washington State.
Vorpahl__Sarah150.jpg Sarah Vorpahl
Senior Energy Policy Specialist, Washington State Department of Commerce
Speaking topic: Conference Emcee/Framing the day

Sarah Vorpahl is a Senior Energy Policy Specialist at the Washington State Department of Commerce, where she focuses on distributed energy resources. She graduated with her Ph.D. from University of Washington in 2017, where she studied emerging solar cell materials in the lab of Professor David Ginger. Her doctoral work also included a Ph.D. Concentration in Public Policy and Management from the Evans School at UW, exploring topics such as innovation and commercialization of new materials for energy. Before coming to Seattle, Sarah received a B.A. in Modern Literary Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz ('04) and a B.S. in Chemistry from Northeastern Illinois University ('11). After her doctorate, Sarah served as the 2017-18 OSA/MRS Science and Engineering Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Bernard Sanders where she worked on a broad portfolio including climate, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and both tribal and territorial issues. Outside of the lab and office, Sarah has been dedicated to increasing representation of women and minorities in STEM. In her first year of graduate school she founded the student group, Women in Chemical Sciences at UW, to educate and empower women in STEM fields. She is also interested in connecting more scientists to public policy and currently serves on the Governing Affairs Committee for the Materials Research Society.
Edwin150.jpg Edwin Wanji
Owner, Sphere Solar Energy
Speaking topic: Covering microgrid project developments and climate adaptation initiatives using solar PV for rural electrification and post-disaster response.

Edwin is the owner and founder of Sphere Solar Energy, a Seattle-based solar company that is in its fourth year of business. He has worked intentionally to build a diverse team from various backgrounds whose skill sets create balance and allow his company to produce individualized systems of the highest quality. In 2018 alone, his company has installed over 650 kW of solar in communities across the state and continues to be committed to participating in opportunities to give back to both our local and global communities. As minority business owner who is passionate about expanding the use of solar energy, Edwin bring an important perspective to the Board believing that solar should be affordable, particularly for historically disadvantaged communities in our region. This is an important strategy toward building regional environmental sustainability and health. His background working with the City of Seattle's Race and Social Justice Initiative offers a broader lens of equity and social justice to the development of policies and projects that impact the ability of our local communities to access solar.

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