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Environmental Advisory Council Board Members - Web Content

Environmental Advisory Council - Board Member Bios

Denise Sheehan

Denise has nearly 30 years of management experience in the government and non-profit sectors. She previously served for 10 years at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in senior management positions, including two years as Commissioner, where she led efforts to establish the State’s first climate change programs, as well as new initiatives to protect air and water quality, preserve open space, and revitalize brownfields. Ms. Sheehan also served as the Executive Director of The Climate Registry, an international non-profit assisting companies to reduce their carbon emissions and become more sustainable. Ms. Sheehan’s experience includes 10 years at the NYS Division of the Budget, where she was responsible for developing and overseeing the State’s environmental and energy budgets. Ms. Sheehan is currently the Executive Vice President at Capitol Hill Management Services, a management consulting firm specializing in non-profit management located in Albany, New York. In that role, she manages the operations of the company and works with a variety of non-profit organizations to assist them in achieving their goals. She also serves as a Senior Advisor to the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST), a non-profit trade association dedicated to growing the energy storage industry in New York. In her role, Ms. Sheehan provides advice and assistance on NY-BEST’s strategic direction, policy issues and operational management. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. Ms. Sheehan is active in the community and serves as the Immediate Past Chair and Board member of the American Red Cross Northeastern NY Chapter. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award from Rockefeller College and Excellence in Leadership Award from the NYS DEC. denise@caphill.com.


Erik Ela

Erik is the Principal Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). In his role, he provides technical leadership in several areas including electricity market design, electricity market operations, renewable energy integration, emerging technology integration, bulk power system operations, frequency control and essential reliability services, and generation planning. At EPRI, Erik facilitates the R&D collaborative group of technical experts of North America’s Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) to discuss research needs in technical areas facing the industry and leads innovative projects on how utilities and ISOs can operate the power system more efficiently and reliably. He has led several high profile research projects for government organizations and utilities across the world and spoke on these topics in over 100 venues/conferences across the world. Prior to joining EPRI in 2014, Erik worked for several years with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as a senior research engineer and before that for the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). He has been involved in several working groups as a senior member of the IEEE Power and Energy Society, CIGRE, NERC, and elsewhere, including as an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Power Systems and currently secretary of the Power System Economics Subcommittee. Erik received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering.


Rich Cowart

Richard Cowart is a Director of The Regulatory Assistance Project. One of the nation’s most experienced regulatory commissioners, he served as Commissioner and Chair of the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) for thirteen years (1986-1999). He was elected President of the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners, and Chair of the NARUC Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. He also served for four years as Chair of the National Council on Competition and the Electric Industry, an association of state and federal officials and legislators responsible for power sector reform in the U.S.


Francis J. Murray, Jr.

Mr. Murray is nationally recognized for his expertise in energy and environmental policy matters with nearly forty years of experience in this arena. Most recently, Mr. Murray served as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a quasi‐governmental public authority with an annual budget of $830 million. Mr. Murray also chaired the State Energy Planning Board and was a founding board member of both the New York State Smart Grid Consortium and the New York State Battery and Energy Storage Consortium (NY‐BEST). Prior to his appointment at NYSERDA, Mr. Murray served in various capacities including Senior Advisor at the international environmental consulting firm Ecology and Environment, Inc., policy advisor to the United States Secretary of Energy, assisting in the development of the Clinton Administration's national energy policy, New York State Commissioner of Energy and Chairman of the NYSERDA Board of Directors,and as the principal energy and environmental policy advisor to New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo, initially as Assistant Secretary and later as Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Energy and the Environment. Mr. Murray received his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service cum laude from the Edward A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center.


Susan Tierney

Dr. Tierney is a Managing Principal in the Analysis Group, an economic, financial and strategy consulting firm located in Boston. Her work focuses primarily on the energy industry, where she frequently serves as an expert witness in private litigation as well as appearing before state and federal regulatory commissions. As a consultant for the last eight years, she has also provided strategic and advisory services to electric utilities, generation and transmission companies, independent system operators, investment companies, large power customers, power buying groups, and government agencies. She has assisted these and other organizations with such issues as industry restructuring, wholesale market structure, supply and delivery strategy, retail policy, power plant and transmission siting, and environmental regulation. STierney@analysisgroup.com.

Karen Palmer

Karen Palmer is a Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future and Associate Director for Electricity of RFF’s Center for Climate and Electricity Policy. She specializes in the economics of environmental and public utility regulation, particularly on issues at the intersection of air quality regulation and the electricity sector. Her work seeks to improve the design of incentive-based environmental regulations that influence the electric utility sector. To this end, she identifies cost-effective approaches to allocating emissions allowances, explores policies targeting carbon emissions and other air pollutants, and analyzes efficient ways to promote use of renewable sources of electricity and end-use energy efficiency.  In 1996– 1997, she spent six months as a visiting economist at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She is the co-author of two books on the economics and policy questions raised by restructuring of the electricity sector. kpalmer@rff.org.

Daniel L. Shawhan

Daniel Shawhan has worked in the area of energy-and-environment policy since 1995.  He is currently an assistant professor of economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  His research deals primarily with electricity policy, particularly its environmental aspects.  Previously, Shawhan was a consultant to state governments on energy-related environmental policy and on electric industry restructuring.  Prior to that, he was a research associate for the US renewable energy industry associations.  In his work with Maryland’s government, Shawhan worked on policies including the nation’s first tax credits for hybrid and electric vehicles; the nation’s second green buildings tax incentive; the first state law to use the LEED building sustainability ratings; Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio standard; and a set of energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment which have since been emulated in national law. shawhd@rpi.edu.


Dr. David Hurlburt

Dr. David Hurlbut is a senior analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center. He specializes in wholesale market design and renewable energy policy. Dr. Hurlbut is currently advising energy officials in the Philippines, Colombia, and South Asia on grid-based strategies for increased use of renewable resources. He also led technical support to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, which was the largest coal-fired generating plant in the Western United States until it retired in late 2019.

Prior to joining the lab in January 2007, Dr. Hurlbut was a senior economist with the Texas Public Utilities Commission, conducting oversight over the competitive wholesale power market in ERCOT and policing against market abuse. While at the Texas PUC, he also oversaw the state’s highly successful renewable portfolio standard, during which time Texas surpassed California as the state with the most installed wind capacity. He also developed the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone concept in Texas, which has since been used as a model for renewable energy transmission planning in other states and other countries.

Dr. Hurlbut is the author of Creative Destruction and the Electric Utility of the Future, which explores the socioeconomic drivers that are transforming the power sector. He received his doctorate and master’s degrees from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.