Our Team

Our team believes that the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, patterns of racial injustice, and the persistent and real dangers presented by climate change, can all be lenses through which we view our work as we in America re-build our economy generally and our energy economy specifically. Our pledge at the Center for the New Energy Economy is that, as we participate in the hard work of rebuilding America’s energy economy, we do so with the lens of equity and justice at the forefront of our consciousness.

Our Team

Bill Ritter, Jr.

Director

Colorado’s 41st Governor

Suzanne Tegen, Ph.D.

Assistant Director

Tom Plant

Senior Policy Advisor

Patrick Cummins

Senior Policy Advisor

Jeffrey Ackermann

Senior Policy Advisor

Wendy Hartzell

Executive Assistant to the Director

Katherine Heriot Hoffer, Ph.D.

Research Manager

Carlyn Petrella

Policy Analyst

Ellen Eisenbeis

Graduate Intern

Brian Feltus

Graduate Intern

Simon Hutabarat

Graduate Intern

Sarah Wochele

Graduate Intern

Bill Ritter, Jr.

Director

Colorado’s 41st Governor

Bill Ritter, Jr. is the founder and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, which launched on February 1, 2011.

Ritter authored a book that was published in 2016 entitled, Powering Forward – What Everyone Should Know About America’s Energy Revolution.

Ritter was elected as Colorado’s 41st governor in 2006 and built consensus to tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges. During his four-year term, Ritter established Colorado as a national and international leader in clean energy, by building a new energy economy. He signed 57 new energy bills into law, including a 30% Renewable Portfolio Standard and a Clean Air Clean Jobs Act that replaced nearly a gigawatt of coal-fired generation with natural gas. In total, the Colorado new energy economy created thousands of new jobs.

Governor Ritter was formerly the chair of the Board of Directors of the Energy Foundation and currently serves on the board of The Climate Group American and the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy.  He is a member of Blackhorn Venture Capital and serves as an advisor to Green Alpha and Millennium Bridge, among others. Ritter earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado State University (1978) and his law degree from the University of Colorado (1981). With his wife Jeannie, he operated a food distribution and nutrition center in Zambia. He served as Denver’s district attorney from 1993 to January 2005.

Suzanne Tegen

Assistant Director

Suzanne Tegen is the Assistant Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy with expertise in energy economics and policy, and a Ph.D. in Energy Policy from the University of Colorado. At the Center, she works on clean energy policy education, research, and solutions for decision-makers including state legislators, governors’ energy offices, and others. Her current work also includes research on the equitable transition from coal power in rural America. Suzanne came to CNEE from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) where she spent 14 years as an energy analyst, researcher, and manager of the Technology, Engineering, and Deployment group for wind and water power.

She has authored or co-authored over 50 reports focused on domestic renewable energy jobs, stakeholder engagement, and the levelized cost of wind energy. She co-wrote a report on clean energy policies for the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Clean Energy Solutions Center and received the Ministerial’s C3E Mid-career award in 2016. She represents the United States in the International Energy Agency’s wind energy social acceptance task and has made countless presentations on responsible renewable energy development across the country. Before graduate school, Tegen worked for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the South Pole and McMurdo stations and for the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco.

Beyond her job requirements, she is passionate about mentoring and energy education, diversity, and inclusivity. She is a founding member of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy and served on their Executive Committee for 9 years.

Tom Plant

Senior Policy Advisor

Tom Plant served as director of the Governor’s Energy Office in the Ritter administration, with principal responsibility for developing and implementing the Governor’s policies for a new energy economy. He was Colorado House District 13 representative from 1998 through 2006, including two years as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and one year as Chairman of the Joint Budget Committee. Among the key pieces of legislation he sponsored were the Colorado Renewable Energy Act, and energy efficiency tax-incentive legislation.

Plant was named Legislator of the Year by such organizations as the University of Colorado and the Sierra Club of Colorado. He received Green Sense Award for Environmental Leadership from Colorado Conservation Voters, and the Champion of the Family Farmer Award from the Rocky Mountain Farmers’ Union. While serving in the legislature, Plant was executive director of the nonprofit Center for ReSource Conservation in Boulder, Colorado.

After graduating from Colorado State University, Plant worked as an exploration geologist. Then he joined the Union of Concerned Scientists in its Climate Change Department. At UCS, he explored the causes of global climate change and examined transportation and energy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Patrick Cummins

Senior Policy Advisor​

Patrick Cummins is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Center for the New Energy Economy where he leads the Center’s work with Western states, utilities, and stakeholders on the transition to a low-carbon economy.  Patrick has been working with Western states and stakeholders on air quality and climate programs for 30 years, including at Metro Denver’s Regional Air Quality Council, and as the Director of Air Quality and Climate Programs at the Western Governors’ Association.  Prior to joining Governor Ritter’s team at Colorado State University he served as Executive Director of the Western Climate Initiative, where he helped develop and implement the world’s first economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions which is being implemented by the State of California and the Province of Quebec.  Patrick has a Chemistry Degree from Fort Lewis College and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy from Indiana University.

 
 

Jeffrey Ackermann

Senior Policy Advisor

Jeff Ackermann served as chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) from January 2017 until January 2021.  During that tenure Jeff presided over some of the most dramatic clean energy developments in Colorado’s regulated electric sector, spanning from accelerated retirement of fossil-fuel generating resources to grid modernization and electrification of the transportation sector.  Concurrently in 2019-2020, Jeff served as chair of the Energy Resources and the Environment Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Prior to serving as PUC chair, Jeff served as director of the Colorado Energy Office in the Hickenlooper Administration for four years, starting in 2013.  In this capacity, Jeff provided leadership for various initiatives that expanded the state’s clean energy agenda.

Jeff draws upon extensive experience in staff and leadership roles, within the Colorado PUC and various organizations developing and implementing innovative energy efficiency programs and addressing the needs of income-stressed households.  Jeff has a Master’s of Nonprofit Management degree from Regis University and an Environmental Economic Policy degree from Albion College.

 Jeffrey.Ackermann@colostate.edu

Wendy Hartzell

Executive Assistant to the Director

Wendy started her career as a legal secretary working in the Office of the City Attorney for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado in 1988. She went on to support the offices of Neighborhood Services and Human Rights for the City of Fort Collins until 2006 when she left the City to work for a private family foundation.  She returned to the public sector in 2008 when she came to Colorado State University to support the Director of the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Lab.  In 2012, Wendy left CSU to support the CEO and Co-Founder of New Belgium Brewing Co., returning in 2014 to support Gov. Ritter and his team at the Center for the New Energy Economy. She is a CSU graduate earning an MBA and BA in Liberal Arts, Social Sciences with a minor in Spanish.

 

Katherine Heriot Hoffer

Research Manager

After interning with CNEE as a Research Associate since 2013, Katherine (“Trina”) joined the CNEE team full-time as Research Manager in April of 2017. Trina oversees our research team, leads the development and maintenance of the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, the State Policy Opportunity Tracker for Clean Energy, The Clean Energy Policy Guide for State Legislatures, and contributes to a number of other CNEE projects.

Trina received her Ph.D in Political Science from Colorado State University. Her Dissertation examined policy diffusion and policy change through the lens of Renewable Portfolio Standards. Trina also received her M.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University, and has published research in Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Policy Sciences, and other venues.

Trina is proud to hail from Red Cliff, Colorado where she grew up exploring the White River National Forest and the Holy Cross Wilderness.

 

Carlyn Petrella

Policy Analyst

Carlyn Petrella joined the Center for the New Energy Economy as a Policy Analyst in the spring of 2020, supporting the Center’s work across all initiatives. After earning her BS in Biotechnology from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Carlyn served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya working as a Secondary Math and Science Teacher. Post Peace Corps, she worked as a Regulatory Biologist with the Environmental Protection Agency, developing and implementing federal pesticide use policy. After five years, Carlyn left the EPA to earn a MS in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. While earning her degree, she focused her studies on energy and environmental policy and was a 2019 EDF Climate Corps Fellow.

Carlyn.Petrella@colostate.edu

Ellen Eisenbeis

Graduate Intern

Ellen is a masters student at the University of Denver in the Environmental Policy and Management program. She is focused on the intersection of environmental science and policy, and the creation of comprehensive, science-based environmental policy. Ellen’s work at CNEE includes research for the Clean Energy Legislative Academy, the SPOT for Clean Energy, and the AEL Tracker. Ellen grew up in Arvada, Colorado where she developed an interest in the environment. Ellen received a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, with a minor in Environmental Affairs in 2018. While there, she worked with Professor Dimitris Stevis on his work on Green Transitions and Environmental Justice. Her other undergraduate work focused on how the public interacts with scientists and research projects.

 
Brian Feltus

Brian Feltus

Graduate Intern

Brian joined the CNEE team in May 2021 as a graduate intern. He is a master’s student in the Political Science Program at Colorado State University with subfields in Environmental Politics and Policy as well as Public Policy and Public Administration. Brian received two bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Environmental Science:Policy and Planning from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is proud to be a part of CNEE and help promote equitable and just energy transition policies, recognizing that cultural recognition is as integral as technical solutions for the future sustainability of communities.

Simon Hutabarat

Simon Hutabarat

Graduate Intern

Simon joined CNEE as a graduate intern in May of 2021. Simon is a third year PhD Student in Economics at Colorado State University from Indonesia, South East Asia. His main research is primarily on the effect of the Government Policy to the development of New and Renewable Energy in the developing countries. His research also ranges from carbon tax to the low carbon policy in general. Simon received his Master degree in Policy Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His Master thesis covers the effect of tax policy on oil and gas industry in Indonesia as he has been dealing in this field back in his home country.  

Sarah Wochele

Graduate Research Intern

Sarah comes to Colorado after living in both suburban and rural Pennsylvania. She is a dual degree graduate student at the University of Denver’s School of Social Work and Josef Korbel School of International Studies, with concentrations in Sustainable Development & Global Practice and International Human Rights. After graduating as a nontraditional student from Bucknell University in 2019, she spent the following year as an AmeriCorps member working at her local community garden on community outreach, food justice, and regenerative agriculture. Sarah cares deeply about global ecosocial justice and is interested in participatory policy efforts to help ensure just transitions from local to global levels. Sarah’s work at CNEE includes research for the Clean Energy Legislative Academy, the SPOT for Clean Energy, and the AEL Tracker.

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