Week 6 – New Week, New Project

This week was a bit different than those prior because I began a new assignment from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Oil and Natural Gas (ONG). The ONG website is severely outdated so I’ve been tasked with updating site content to reflect current projects and changes as advised by program managers. This project will require use of editing/writing, communication, and analytical skills.


The Office of ONG consists of the following five programs areas: Methane/Gas Hydrate; Liquified Natural Gas (LNG); Offshore Drilling; Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR); and Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas (Shale).  Each program is responsible for research and development (R&D) of tools and technology to produce resources safely and efficiently. (DOE. 2013)

Communication and analytical skills were necessary in my initial review of the website. These skills were needed to cite obvious issues/errors related to organization and irrelevant/outdated content. Here is a quick list of some of these issues found so far:

  1. There is no mission, function, and goals statement. This information is important because it provides clear principles that guide the work of the office and it’s intent in a brief statement. ONG has this information internally (there are posters around the office and on the intranet), however, it is not being communicated on the external site. Providing the mission/function/goals statement would be helpful to stakeholders who need a quick understanding of what ONG does at DOE.
  2. The first link shown on the ONG home page is an outdated report. The “Section 999 Report to Congress” should be archived because the report is from 2013, the program was terminated in 2014, and has not been renewed to date. Reviewing “Sec. 999F Sunset” of the authorizing law, Energy Policy Act of 2005, confirms termination (Public Law 109-58). As such, the report and corresponding material, (ie: federal advisory committee information), should be archived as well.
  3. Incorrect or indirect hyperlinks. Each program page had issues with incorrect or indirect links. This is problematic because the links are there to provide more information on a particular subject, without them it makes content confusing and inconsistent. Here is an example of this issue:
    1. EOR’s page lists 4 research projects being conducted/overseen by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) with each project hyperlinked to NETL’s site. Instead of each EOR title being linked to its individual project, all 4 link to the same NETL site that is an overwhelming list of all their active and completed projects. This should be updated to link each title to it’s NETL project page to simplify usability for those viewing the content.

Conducting the initial review of the website was a helpful way to reintegrate into ONG by gaining familiarity with outdated and current projects. This was also helpful when meeting with managers of the aforementioned programs because it provided insight of how new content should be curated, edited, and maintained in the future.

While working on this assignment I spent a lot of time reconnecting with the following program officials:

Louis Capitanio, Methane Hydrates Program Manager

Elena Melchert, EOR/Shale Program Manager

Olayinka Ogunsola, EOR/Shale Technical Expert

Marni Lenahan, EOR/Shale Analyst

The most labor intensive/time consuming part of this assignment is the verification and fact checking process. This was clear in reviewing the relevance of the Section 999 Report. Going forward I hope this will be simplified with input and guidance from the aforementioned program officials who can easily confirm, deny, and add valuable content.

Continue reading


Greater decentralization of power generation can, in my opinion, only strengthen the electricity market. Deregulation brought about greater competition amount generators, greater variability among the types of electricity generated, and ultimately a better economic choice for consumers (1).

Not that deregulation is easy. There is still much oversight needed to ensure that the electricity system is not compromised. Transmission and distribution must be maintained; an adequate supply MUST be remain intact; and both generators and consumers must be economically motivated (1,2). There are some systems that may allow utilities and generators to gouge their customers; state regulators must keep a mindful eye on consumer prices, while still allowing a reasonable profit margin for the utilities. With a diversely deregulated generation market, there must be a lower threshold maintained, as well as enough capacity to manage demand spikes. Logistical structures must be put in place to ensure that the system as a whole functions smoothly.

But the benefits can well be worth it. The introduction of more generators make the generation market a competitive one. This will ultimately make generation systems more efficient and drive down prices. It will also allow for more types of generators to enter the market: specifically, environmentally friendly ones. This will allow for a great deal of improvement in battling climate change as well as all the associated pollution risks with traditional power generation. The pressure to increase efficiency will drive the market to create new forms of technology, techs that can be disseminated through the industry. As new technologies develop and efficiency increases, consumers will benefit from reduced rates.

I personally think that there is a great potential for microgrid development as well. There have been several examples of microgrid technology “improving grid resiliency, reduc(ing) emissions, and increasing effiency” for local markets. These microgrids – localized islands of power generation, can provide backup power to cities (3), site redevelopment (4), and commercial complexes (5).

The businesses that can develop in this new emerging market are widespread. They can range from many types of small scale generators, new equipment installers, to consulting groups working with companies to ensure compliance.



5)     “Alstom receives $1.2M DOE funding to advance Philadelphia microgrid project” http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2014/10/alstom-receives-12m-doe-funding-to-advance-philadelphia-microgrid-project-/

“Personal Power Systems”- Your source for limitless energy by Jonathan Barnes

          I believe personal, sustainable power systems will be the future.  They will be the final frontier in human developed energy production. The days of dependency on foreign or domestic sources of energy are dwindling. The decentralization of not just energy, but the decentralization of everything is the way of the future. There will always be entities trying to get customers “hooked” to lifelong products and services. (i.e. big pharma, big food, etc.) However, the world has come to a point where resources are scarcer than ever, actual future viability is questioned and I truly believe someone, somewhere is working on an idea that will touch on the American and more simply, human right, to personal freedom as it extends to all aspects of life on this planet to include personal energy consumption and supply. The technology will arrive soon specifically because of the current economics of energy. It will look like some sort of power pack, probably the size of a cell phone yet it will have the ability to plug in and be plugged into. It will allow various charging options like solar, pendulum motion energy, magnetism, and traditional grid electricity.  It will have sufficient power to charge “personal traveling machines” that may have the ability to fly, ride, or sail. As well as hook to public transportation track or rail systems that will be 100% powered through maglev or sustainable energy. You might then take your personal “traveler” to far away destinations and only be responsible for the power from say your home to the terminal. The real key or future issue I think is to make sure we do it right this time. No single entity should be the benefactor of the tremendous wealth generating possibility of future high efficiency limitless personal energy. However, there is tremendous opportunity for products and services that will complement this new future…

Smaller is Better- Decentralizing Power Generation

• What will be the effect of greater decentralization of power generation?
o With cleaner, more efficient technology available for power generation, decentralizing the industry may become more of an issue than most anticipate. Natural gas reserves in the U.S. create a great opportunity to fuel smaller localized generation facilities and returns the option to use the expelled heated water for purpose as opposed to wasting it in cooling towers. The overall effect of decentralization could eventually eliminate some of the remote power generation facilities.
• What new businesses will evolve in this changing landscape?
o The obvious new business would be installation companies of such equipment. Other business might be maintenance companies to maintain and repair these centralized facilities. Extension employment will trickle down as companies or building management teams will need to hire people to manage any equipment as well.
• What business can you see yourself creating to serve this market?
o I could see the opportunity to create a consultation business to help communities, building owners and businesses evaluate the possibility to install such a centralized facility and release from the grid.

Brian Hillard

Regardless of the successes that renewable energy has had in the past decade, there is little doubt that it is still an industry (or subset of an industry) that needs assistance to be viable. Much of the strides have come via government grants, loans, and subsidies. This continues: the wind energy sector has seen a significant drop in installations, due to the federal government’s expiration of the wind energy tax credits. So as the renewable energy industry continues, the biggest question is: will it remain financially viable?

There are still many government incentives available. One key factor is location. Many states provide incentives for renewables, some of them significant. In addition, a reduction in capital costs, especially solar, has led to cheaper installation costs and competitive market rates.

What the funder wants to see is, then, is competitive renewable technology that will quickly recoup the investor their investment and provide a decent return in the following years. If government incentives are a part of the equation, they must be reliable: an investment cannot count on tax breaks or grants that might phase out or expire the next year. In addition, many Pennsylvania solar installations were partially financed by SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Credits. These credits were sold by the owner of a solar installation to companies that needed to meet state standards for renewable energy, and provided a big incentive for solar power installers. Any type of government incentive should be guaranteed for the investor to feel confident they will get their investment back.

On top of the financials, an investor will want to have trust in the company itself. A company with a solid, reliable history (10-15+ years), and proven track record and sound accounting will give that much more strength to their request for funding.

There are several finance-based figures that will assist both the company and the investor to know what kind of footing the company is on and whether a large scale investment is viable. Cash on hand, total debt, cost of debt, and percentage of debt all can give an initial look into the state of the company. The lower the debt rates, and the more the cash on hand, the better footing a company has and the investor is more assured the company practices sound financial habits and good chance of remaining in business. Other figures, such as WACC (Weighted Average Capital Cost) and APV (Average Present Value), will give further insight into the company financial standing and how it will be able to finance its own projects. Return on Investment will also be an important figure, so the investor can ascertain just how quickly their money is recovered and how much the company will benefit in the years to come.

The Cost of Capital and Why It Matters

When presenting a business proposal to savvy investors, there are several key criteria they will want covered.  First of which would be the sources of my existing funding, if any.  Am I reinvesting money from existing cash flow generating projects or is this all a brand new investment offering?  Investors will also want to know how much experience I have in the chosen field.  Do I have a portfolio of previous projects on which I’ve worked?  A proven track record means a lot especially in a field such as renewable energy where people with significant experience can be hard to find.  With renewable energy requiring more of a venture capital investor, I may also be asked my thoughts on the role of renewables and whether I am more interested profit or principle.  Also the corollary, if I believe renewable energy investment is something that must be “wanted” beyond the potential for positive return; therefore, I need an investor whom shares that vision.  If not, I will find myself battling for investment dollars with traditional investments that could early exhibit a track record of higher return on capital expenditure.

As far as finance processes I would use to sell my project, I believe the main two would be return on investment and net present value.  Return on investment, or ROI is a simple calculation of the percentage gain or loss of a particular investment over a period of time.  ROI is calculated using three criteria, cost of investment, gain on investment, and the difference between the two values.  It is a quick and dirty calculation that does not take into effect the effects of inflation or the opportunity cost of investing in a higher-return investment.  ROI works best for short-term projects.  Complementing ROI is net present value (NPV), which gives the investor a tangible figure of the overall value of their investment discounted back through years of inflation and opportunity cost via a hurdle rate into a value given in “today’s dollars.”  This discount rate could vary from project to project depending on scope and even from investor to investor as one may demand a rate of 12% versus 8% for another.  Regardless of the investor, the value will almost certainly be significantly greater than the expected inflation rate since sane investors could simply open a savings account if he or she desired to watch their money’s value erode.  NPV is an excellent tool for comparing longer term investments.  No matter how good the sales technique for an investment is, it always comes down to what I will make of the investor’s money.



L8: Understanding the Cost of Capital – Bret Cole

Knowing how to talk money in any business is the ultimate key for explaining business proposals and getting investors interested in a product or service. Especially in the renewable industry, knowing the finances, values, and return on investments of projects is extremely important. Key mechanisms and calculations to explain to a potential investor for a renewable energy project are:
• What is the rate of return of return of the project
• Present, annual, and future worth of the project
• Before tax and after tax cash flow of the project
• and Net Present Value of the project
These calculations will show if the project is even feasible or would generate any cash flow after taxes. With these, finance-based processes like providing the opportunity cost of capital and payback period analysis are also important in explaining the project’s potential for success. Stermole and Stermole describe payback period as, “the time required for positive project cash flow to recover negative project cash flow from the acquisition and/or development years” (Stermole, page 488). A payback period analysis would be a great way to show investors that the project is sound and would be able to recover any initial costs that the investor puts forward.

Works Cited

Stermole, F. J., & Stermole, J. M. (2012). After Tax Investment Decision Methods and Applications. Economic evaluation & investment decision methods (13th ed., p. 488). Lakewood, Colo.: Investment Evaluations Corp..

Lesson 3_Promoting Conservation

The government is often looked at to provide stimulus to emerging technologies and concepts that otherwise run counter to business as usual. When it comes to promoting sustainability and efficiency, the government could easily set forth a good example of “putting your money when your mouth is.” By retrofitting government-subsidized housing with modern energy efficient features, we can provide the private sector with a functional proving ground to promote the adoption of said features. According the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are approximately 1.2 million units of publicly funded housing in the United States. On top of that, millions of additional Americans receive heating assistance funding. The government could create more efficient use and increased impact of this funding by promoting energy efficiency upgrades for the publicly and privately held properties. As stated by McKinsey Global energy, a 28% reduction in energy consumption can be achieved using only NPV positive improvements. With an upfront investment, state and federal governments could reap significant savings over time. This means either more people could be served with the existing funding level or the same number of current recipients could be served for fewer dollars per capita.

I believe a public-private partnership could be forged between the local governing bodies responsible for administering public housing and heating benefits and private sector contractors which would focus on bolstering the weatherization and insulation of all public housing units while also offering subsidized work on private properties whose owners receive heating assistance. The business model would be based off of a series of systematic grants given out in the form of labor contracts. The contractor would be responsible for sourcing any and all necessary parts and equipment as long as it meets specific criteria set forth by the governing body. In the end, public housing and private homeowners would be less burdened by utility costs, occupants would experience better seasonal comfort, and private industry would receive the economic boost.

Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy, McKinsey Global Energy, page 29, July 2009

Cap and Trade..

  • What types of policies on the part of government could promote energy efficiency?
  • How would you develop a business that has the potential to move this idea forward?


I believe the number one goal of energy efficiency is the conservation of energy, with an end goal of reducing carbon emissions. Carbon emissions should be the number one priority given the amount of data supporting climate change that is available now. The biggest impact government policies could make is to seek to control of carbon emissions, and the most promising method to accomplish this has been cap and trade. The U.S. government can do much to further promote an economic system for companies to barter carbon credits.

As for business opportunities, there are many opportunities available. As businesses move to comply with cap and trade regulations, they will need consultation to be able to ensure compliance. There are also new opportunities for businesses that reduce carbon to get into the cap and trade market, that would need introduction to the regulations and how to promote themselves.

What Have We Learned

As of right now we are trying to increase the economic sustainability with in our country. We have made some steps towards being more resourceful, but these steps are baby steps in light of the situation. The US cannot continue “business as usual” prolonging the process of taking action towards becoming efficient. We need to instill stronger standardized regulations and guidelines requiring companies to create more efficient ways of conducting business. More education on tax credits, grants and reimbursements through federal, state, and local governments could increase the likely hood of companies establishing sustainability departments. This would help fast track the concept of becoming more efficient and sustainable in all three of the energy consuming sectors, residential, commercial, and industrial.

Energy auditing companies are becoming more abundant and are easily available to the public. However many companies only preform the audit and give the results. I believe it is imparative to bridge the gap between what the public knows about becoming more efficient and what the experts know. Not only is there a need to educate homeowners on energy efficiency, but there is a need for a standardized way of conducting business that helps build a plan that best fits customers needs and capabilities, then implement that plan. This type of full circle structure would help comfort people and allows for a more efficient progress of the project.

pcm5122, lesson 3, energy efficiency policy

From our lesson and readings, energy efficiency is a relatively low cost opportunity to realize substantial energy savings in the long term. Of all the barriers listed in the McKinsey report, education about energy efficiency should be paramount in government policy making for social responsibility, and it should be started in two places: Corporate America and kindergarten. In educating Corporate America, the government should spearhead existing working programs (and experimental programs which show strong potential) with incentives for short term payback and measurable long term programs that will directly show results to the bottom line. By beginning energy efficiency education in kindergarten, we make efficiency education part of the program, not just the conversation. In order to educate the kids, however, we first have to educate the adults. As with Corporate America, the government can provide affordable incentives to produce realistic, tangible paybacks periods for the investments that the government would like ordinary citizens to make towards energy efficiency.

According to the U.S General Services Administration, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the government provided 5.5 billion dollars to green federal buildings. Let’s do some math. $5,500,000,000 divided by 50 states equals $110,000,000 million dollars per state. 110 million divided by 3303 (the number of public schools in Pennsylvania) comes to 33,303 dollars per school. If that investment were quadrupled, it would be $133,212.00 dollars per school. In Philadelphia, the district manages about 300 schools (including charters) which would come to $39,963,669 dollars for the district.

If the U.S is going to go green, we’re going to need skilled workers for that to happen, and our schools seem like the perfect place to start. Most Philadelphia schools have massive amounts of roof space that would be perfect for solar installations and CHP and could provide realistic hands-on training for students to enter the workforce. In the districts 30 million dollar per year energy budget, 55.5% of that goes to electricity costs. If the electricity bill alone could be negated, it would be a savings of 16.65 million dollars that could be re-invested into additional efficiency programs. At least that’s on my wish list.

If, for example, the government mandates future home sales to meet minimum efficiency compliance, it will need government certified energy auditors or inspectors to ensure that compliance. My business idea would be to set up training centers across the United States to produce certified auditors or inspectors, because financial institutions will need them in order to process mortgages.





What have We Learned? Lesson #3

  • What types of policies on the part of government could promote energy efficiency?

Regulatory policies could address and mandate energy efficiency on virtually every level by imposing constraints on individuals as well as groups. These types of policies can regulate pollution controls by implementing taxes for inefficient energy technologies or impose fines for excessive energy use. On the flip side, they may also offer tax breaks or credits for utilizing energy efficient technologies or even government grants or subsidized loans for creating such technology. Regardless of how groundbreaking a regulatory policy may be in regards to energy efficiency or conservation, there will almost always be individuals or groups who feel they are being wronged by its implementation and more than likely, a negative financial impact.



  • How would you develop a business that has the potential to move this idea forward?

Business would have many options whether it is the implementation of new technology or providing services from existing technologies. For instance, a solar company can “rent” rooftop space, sides of building space or residential spaces to install solar panels to create electricity during the day while offering full or partial electric service for utilizing these spaces. The solar companies can sell the excess energy to the grid while the individual or businesses agreeing to have this on their property could have the flexibility to not purchase the equipment but benefit from the discounted electricity.   I say “discounted” because the end-user would pay for the aesthetically displeasing look of the units on their property. The customer could have the option to sign a contract so there is an opportunity to release them from the agreement if they so choose.

Opportunities on the horizon…

I think there are two facets to this issue: generation capacity and consistency in generation. Nuclear power plants have the capacity to generate huge amounts of electricity, on average almost 12 billion kWh (eia.gov). That is a huge amount of electricity, especially given the amount of land it covers. Nuclear power is also very consistent in its generation, able to provide electricity for 24 hours a day.

I believe that renewable energy sources will play a huge part in the next century, and each type will have their own niche depending on many factors. Location, availability of resources, local economy, local energy needs will all come into play, and can determine just what types of energy generation will be needed. Every corner of the globe could benefit from one, if not more, types of renewables, and the entrepreneur who is able to take advantage of those opportunities will have a clear advantage.

pcm5122, nuclear, niche, solar, lesson 2

• While the USA has more private sector participation in the production of civilian nuclear power than any other nation, the government is heavily involved through safety and environmental regulations, R&D funding, and setting national energy goals.
• Beginning in the late 1990s, US government policy and funding decisions have encouraged the development of greater civilian nuclear capacity.
• The commitment to nuclear power as part of the USA’s long-term energy strategy continues, but there has been a reduction in some nuclear programs as a result of greater emphasis on alternative sources of energy.
• The disposal and storage of high-level nuclear waste remains a major unresolved issue.
• Over the last 25 years public opinion has steadily grown more positive towards nuclear energy.
Why are renewable energy projects failing to recieve the same degree of support from the financial community and the government that nuclear does?
A conventional plant costs about $780 million to build, according to Bechtel…a comparable coal-gas plant would cost about $975 million. source: http://money.cnn.com/2004/10/18/news/economy/coal/
Coal externalized cost (cents per kWh) from Epstein et al. (2011) estimates that the externalized cost of an actual coal plant to be 3 times higher than the building costs, excluding government subsidies for coal. The Vogtle plant (from our lesson) currently being built in Georgia is estimated right now to be 6.76 billion dollars (with cost over-runs), according to powermag.com. I believe that the heavy level of government regulation in this industry is a major contributor to the high fixed costs of the design and building of nuclear power plants. Although the fixed costs for building nuclear power plants are high, the operational costs are relatively low for this much cleaner power generation source. From our video, the new generation of gas cooled nuclear power plants do not need to rely on a water source in the event of a shut down, whether planned or accidental. This gives nuclear power much more portability in areas lacking access to abundant water sources, i.e, the drought stricken western U.S. Also, nuclear doesn’t require the large land areas needed for utility sized production of solar or wind power. Although the government does provide subsidies for renewables, I believe it is trying to let market forces and efficiencies and innovations in technology drive the transition to renewables.
Niche markets. I believe distributed solar generation is going to be the primary source of electricity generation in the very near future. The current cost of solar installations is now comparable to traditional utility generation and continued research and development will drive the costs of solar even lower. Recently, scientists at the University of Scheffield have developed a spray on material that can turn just about any surface into a power generating solar cell using an abundant and easily processed material called perovskite. As these technologies continue to develop economically, the traditional utility is going to go the way of the dinosaurs.


Hello all, my name is Brian, and I’m a resident of Bethlehem PA. I currently work full time doing warehouse work, spend time with the fam, and try to sneak in time for schoolwork. I am currently majoring in Energy & Sustainability Policy at Penn State’s World Campus, and I hope once I complete my program to find employment in the exciting and dynamic energy field.

One thing I’ve done to jump start my career is develop my LinkedIn profile. It’s still in development…. I have to tweak my resume to fit the career goals… but I figured it’s not too early to start. Brandi Robinson, my ESP advisor, actually started a discussion thread for those seeking some insight into our future beyond the degree. I’d love to see some other ESP majors in there; the more connections we can make within our program and field, the better 🙂

I hope to make many connections both through these classes and through our major. I look forward to many insightful and stimulating conversations!

Residential Home Improvement & SMART Grid – MSWALE

I agree with the statement that a lot of the technology we have available today can help reduce waste and improve our energy efficiency significantly. Unfortunately, I do not think technology is the reason for our slow transition to more energy-efficient ways of production, distribution, and end use. I believe it has to do more with the cost of implementing such systems.

As a residential example, homes of all ages could use newer materials and hardware to improve their homes insulation which in return makes their home more energy-efficient and saves them on energy costs. They can increase the r-value in the homes by adding or improving the type of insulation of the walls, roof, doors and windows. Buy new energy-efficient appliances including a tankless water heater or even doing a geothermal heat pump, but in the end it comes down to cost. Some homes being developed are to achieve zero-emissions or all the material in the home are to be eco-friendly, so there are many opportunities available it’s just a matter of how much a homeowner is willing to spend in the upfront costs.

Another opportunity that has been a slow transition is the smart-grid. Some areas already have it up and running, while other cities and states are expected to have it completed by 2018. I have learned a lot about this system over the last year and it’s amazing in what it will achieve but it will cost a lot of money. Below are some links to give more information on the smart-grid.




Greetings from Columbia, Illinois

Hello Class! My name is Michael Pittman.  I am 36 years old and I live in Columbia, Illinois.  Columbia is a suburb of St. Louis located about 15 minutes southeast of downtown.  I grew up in Murphysboro, IL which is about another 90 minutes further southeast.  My wife Sara and I have been married for nine years and have two daughters.  Molly is 8 and Eve is 5.  I spent years working in finance and banking.  I was incredibly unhappy with that career choice so in 2012, I left the industry and became a 911 dispatcher for the City of Columbia with the idea of finding something I loved and going back to school to pursue a new career path.  I found the ESP program at Penn State and knew it was the reason I made this decision.  If I could pick my own career path tomorrow, I really believe that I would like to start my own energy efficiency consulting firm.  Through my ESP studies, I have come to believe that while renewable energy is important, efficiency is equally important.  I also believe it is an easier sale to your typical business owner.  I am really excited about this course because I recently took a position as VP of Business Development with a start up LED lighting and solar company.  I have high hopes that this class will have real world application to our new business and help me in my business development role.  I am very happy that this course is a requirement for the ESP degree.

In addition to the LED lighting business (which I can’t really say I started because I am not an investor) I have very little experience with starting a business. I have been a skateboarder my entire life.  Several years ago, I started a company the designs and manufactures skateboard decks.  It did turn a small profit but was really never much more than a hobby and has really taken a backburner to school, especially since I decided to go fulltime last year.

I briefly mentioned it earlier but I really think the idea of efficiency consulting could play a huge role in a sustainable energy future. Reducing energy consumption will make the complete conversion to renewable energy sources much easier.  It is also an easy sell to business owners whose main goal is profits.  If you can go into a business and show them how investment in renewable energy and more efficient buildings/lighting can have long term cost savings along with short term payback period for their initial investment it almost sells its self.

Here is a picture of me and my family from a trip to Chicago earlier this summer..

Family selfie

Hello from Vegas

Hello all,

I am Anthony Valentino and I am a Power and Gas Trader for NV Energy. This is currently my second year with Penn State World Campus and I am enrolled in the ESP program. I love the experience I have had thus far, and I am excited about this energy course. I am 32 and married with 4 daughters of which I coach for my twin daughters volleyball team. We are currently ranked 1st in the National Youth Sports so I am happy about that. During my free time, I give 100% to my family and community and I love life. I am just a really free going dude that likes to laugh, have fun, and work hard. I am excited to meet all of you and hear about your life’s journey, and where it has taken you! 🙂

Coach Anthony

Final cover Valentino Spring 6 small icon

Hi, I’m Ken


My name is Ken and I currently work in the Oil and Gas industry on the “completions” end of well development.  I specialize in tools that allow production companies to isolate zones during hydraulic fracturing.  I currently live in Pennsylvania, but I grew up in New York.  I started working in the Oilfield in Oklahoma about 3 years ago, where producers focus mainly on oil production, and I moved up to Pennsylvania about a year ago, where producers focus mainly on gas production.

I ended up in the oil and gas industry completely blind as to what it actually was, which I think was necessary if I’d have ever even considered pursuing it otherwise.  It gets rough.  But now that I stuck it out I find it fascinating and challenging.  I realize, however, that energy production can’t go on like it is forever.  After all, there’s only so much oil and gas in the ground.  Eventually we’ll need to move on to more sustainable options, and, when we do, I’d like to be at the head of the pack in developing those options.

This course is a requirement for my Energy and Sustainability Policy degree, but it’s the course that I hoped to take when I applied for the program in the first place.  So I am really looking forward to this course.  I plan on starting a business–hopefully sooner than later–having something to do with sustainable energy production or solutions, and I’m confident this course will give me a little direction in terms of what kind of business I would be passionate about enough to pursue.

I have never started a full-fledged business.  I’ve flirted with the idea, going so far as to flesh out ideas and business plans, but I’ve never pulled the trigger on anything.  I regret this, and this won’t be the case for long.  I think the biggest obstacle I’ve faced in terms of pulling the trigger is passion–I don’t think any of the ideas I’ve pursued would have kept me motivated enough to make them a success.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  But sustainable energy is something I can get behind, and it’s a subject that always fires me up.  I want to help power the future.

That said, I hope to learn a lot from others in this course.  I love other perspectives on the energy business.  Hopefully my perspective will help others as well.

All the best!


David Westsmith – Intro

I’m a returning student who was confronted with the reality of the ever changing blue collar job prospects.  I am a licensed contractor and its a fight to maintain that I am truly tired of. So I decided to finish school.  I am an ESP major.  This is an interesting major and to me its a combination of a BA and a BS.  There is more science in the major than I was aware.  I think it is an excellent major.  I collect one specific guitar from only 1 year of manufacture. 1983 Ibanez Roadstar 2’s.  I have 13.  I have the largest collection in the United States which I am proud of.  I have an RS 1100 that was only released in West Germany.  Besides that I have traveled all over the place and lived on and off in the Philippines for 14 years and have a cheap hotel room there that I keep stuff in. Cebu is a great bouncing point.  cheap flights to anywhere asia.  I’ve been to many South East Asian countries. Too many to list.  My first semester at Penn was from that hotel room in Cebu via wi-fi, a toggled nokia E-51, a usb simm gsm stick and sometimes various coffee houses in malls in Cebu.  I can say I am truly a member of the world campus if you get my meaning.  I play music, (drums), and played in a sort of motown/funk/70’s band ala james brown, aretha etc…That was in the Philippines with other expats and a brit.  too much fun!! I made good money too.  Lots to blab about….I better stop.

Pat McMahon, lesson 1, getting to know you

My name is Pat McMahon and I’m a construction inspector in Philadelphia, PA, where I call home since 1998. I was born in Philly but we moved to northern Tioga County when I was 9. I loved growing up in the country; tire rope swing into the Cowanesque river, tree houses in the back woods, swinging from the barn rafters into piles of hay, camping in the summer time, what a blast. I like the fact that I’m comfortable in both my country and city skin. Fishtown started its gentrification in the early 2000’s and it was amazing to go through the transformation. We went from corner bars and junkies on every corner to nice casual restaurants, BYOB’s, art galleries and music venues. I love the city.
A former friend of mine and I tried starting a car detailing business, but as you can guess from the beginning of this sentence, it didn’t work out. From the knowledge I’ve gained during this ESP program, I realize, in hindsight, why it didn’t work and the good news is, I wouldn’t be afraid to try a new business in the renewable energy field. With the ever falling prices of solar panels and recent gains in that technology, I see distributive generation meeting the future of our electric needs with current utilities being used for back-up power only. That’s where I see myself in the future.