Our Mission ︎
We are the DER Task Force. But “We” doesn’t mean the people writing this. It’s you, the community that makes this possible. If you’re on this site, then you’re in the DER Task Force and have a part to play. So while you’re here, whether already a core member or just interested in learning more, we wanted to share why we need a Task Force on the front-lines fighting for distributed energy resources. The energy sector has entered a period of radical change. As we attempt to decarbonize our societies to address climate change, distributed energy resources present a tremendous opportunity to improve our energy system. We can build not just a cheaper and cleaner grid, but also a more resilient one, that enables electrification, and offers us more control over our energy usage.
While there is no silver bullet, Distributed Energy Resources have a massive role to play in the energy transition and are the only approach that improves our system in all dimensions. This is a call to action to join a movement that is reaching an inflection point. The work of the Task Force dates as far back as the 70’s, when the original Energy Task Force installed NYC’s first distributed energy system. We are part of a lineage of builders who aim to make the energy we depend on more sustainable for all. That means that we are asking you — yes, YOU listener, reader, contributor wherever you are — to join the fight. We need you. We’re here to help in any way we can, to pass on knowledge, provide context, make connections, and offer feedback. But, this isn’t about us. The onus is on you: in whatever way you can dream up, drive this space forward. Go build. Go debate. Write new policy. Organize. Create new business models and technologies. And if you’re doing any of that, then you’re in the Task Force. We welcome you, as the work is just getting started.
Our Team ︎
Our History ︎
The NYC DERs Meetup was born in May of 2019 after a few informal twitter meetups and “DG Beers” group messages. At its inception the mission was clear - there are a ton of smart distributed energy folks in NYC, so lets stick them in a room with drinks and see what happens. But what evolved over the next year turned out to be way cooler than we expected! After a while we started getting requests like, “Hey, I’m in Texas and wasn’t able to make the meetup, but could you at least send me the slides?” We realized the dialogue that was transpiring at these events was really interesting stuff. It was shaping up to be the place you go to get the inside scoop on distributed energy, and it didn’t make sense for that to be confined to a small event series in a single city. So in early 2020 we decided to start recording podcast conversations that attempt to summarize and expand on everything that transpires at each meetup. It’s basically an energy nerd post-game show. Plus, we took the meetups virtual, so anyone from around the world could tune in live and participate. At this time we also decided to re-launch everything (the meetups and podcast episodes) under one name - DER Task Force. At the time we had become obsessed with this old story of a group young people illegally installing a rooftop wind turbine in the Lower East Side in the 70s. You can read more about it in Russell Gold’s book Superpower, but the synopsis is that this one bold act launched the future of distributed energy and made everything our community does possible. And it turns out this group called themselves The Energy Task Force. Our name is a shoutout to this original, optimistic, brave distributed energy project.
Featured Members ︎
Mike DeFeo, Product Manager, Plaid
Mike is a Product Manager at Plaid, an API focused on accelerating the digitization and democratization of financial services. He studied Physics and EE in university out of passion. He's focused on finding a Grid Tech problem to help solve leveraging his background experiences building APIs with large institutions and personal interests in sustainability and energy. “The DER Task Force is comprised of ridiculously knowledgeable people - I was wondering how to demystify the energy realm and the answers are in this community.”Matt Burton, VP of Sales and Business Development, RecurveMatt is the VP of Sales and Business Development at Recurve, a clean tech company solving grid challenges by valuing distributed energy resources and establishing demand flexibility markets. Passionate about clean energy and addressing climate change, Matt focuses his time on evangelizing for demand side innovation and harmonizing energy resources across the value chain. He began his career commissioning, designing, and testing combined cycle power plants, followed by a swift move into asset performance management, digital twins, and power market analytics. “Having a central forum for discussing opportunities and challenges in the sector of DER integration has been a ton of fun for me personally, and also provided great connections and continued opportunities to learn professionally.”
Sean Grimes, Product Manager, Leap
Sean works in Product at Leap, a startup that helps DERs participate in electricity markets. He is interested in the confluence of Software, Electricity, and Decentralization. Sean got his start in cleantech in 2016, helping companies automate collection of utility bill and meter data for millions of sites in 30+ countries. Sean originally gravitated to DERs because they represent the human element of the energy transition. While others think in top-down decarbonization plans, DER-growth represents the individual decisions made by people (individual and companies) to improve their lives in ways unrelated to energy. Sean believes orchestrating these devices to provide a collective benefit is the pinnacle of individual liberty harmonizing with a shared social objective. “I love the DER Task Force community’s diversity of viewpoints on the energy transition. To name a few, there are experts in solar, hydro, HVAC controls, data engineering, and state electricity policy. And people want to share their perspectives! It's a fantastic place to learn.”
Elta Kolo, Vice President, Huck Capital
Elta Kolo is a Vice President at Huck Capital, leading research and market analysis to support deals and provide industry guidance. “DER Task Force is just a great community of mission-driven individuals!”
Octavi Semonin, Technical Director, Powerhouse
Octavi is Technical Director at Powerhouse, an innovation firm and venture fund. He works with Powerhouse partners like Schneider Electric, Enel, and Google to help them find and engage with cutting-edge startups, tap into proprietary market insights, and lead the next century of clean technology innovation. Prior to Powerhouse, Octavi spent a decade in photovoltaics research, development, and manufacturing at Alta Devices, Columbia University, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “The DER Task Force is my favorite of the many energy and decarbonization communities! The team is somehow both ambitious and welcoming, and I learn something important every time I spend time with them. This truly feels like the nexus of knowledge for all things distributed energy.”
Carl Lenox, Senior Director of Electrification and Advanced Product Management, SunRun
Carl is Senior Director of Electrification & Advanced Product Management at Sunrun. He is focused on extending Sunrun's offers into home (and vehicle) electrification. Carl has worked in product development, strategy, product management, and open innovation roles. He has expertise across the topics of distributed PV, energy storage, energy management, data analytics, grid services, and EV charging technology, economics and policy. On the side, he likes monkeying around with Python and IoT devices to hack together cheap & cheerful home energy projects. “I've greatly enjoyed the chance to meet other professionals working in the space through the DER Task Force. It seems everyone is here to learn from each other, level each other up, and advance DER solutions. Also, a very fun group of people. My kinda nerds.”
Kristen Frick, Compliance Manager, PowerFlex
Kristen works at PowerFlex where we are developing the future technology of ev charging, solar, and storage (i.e., DER and energy services). Prior to PowerFlex she was at OhmConnect, a residential demand response aggregator operating in California, managing Finance and Market Operations and thinking about the CAISO grid all day, every day. Kristen has worked at a variety of startups in a variety of industries, and is a strong believer in technology being a force of change for good, and that helps people help themselves. She has degrees in psychology, law, and tax, and spends her non-work hours reading books about energy, policy, or science, and swimming in the Bay or cycling around hilly SF. “I discovered DER Task Force probably on a LinkedIn rabbit hole that I often go down (which is why building a good network has so many benefits!). I joined because I am drawn to being around groups of people that also spend their spare time talking about energy and I stay for the great conversations and memes! I also love that we are spinning up a Bay Area chapter, it's exciting to see so many people wanting to come together and share knowledge and experience.”
Kyle Baranko, Data Scientist, Kevala
Kyle is a Data Scientist Product Manager at Leap, a startup that helps DERs participate in electricity markets. He wrote his undergraduate thesis on the political economy and technology of energy transitions and has been obsessed with decarbonization ever since. Kyle enjoys thinking about the ways in which machine learning and distributed computing can help create a more dynamic and adaptive electricity grid. “I've been attending meetups since the community was called "DG Beers" and it has been my go-to industry resource since. Every participant brings a unique perspective and knowledge base, which means scheduled content and ad-hoc discussion tend to approach DERs from a variety of perspectives. I learn a ton. I also appreciate how the core community members set the tone by ensuring group discussion is intellectually rigorous and respectful, yet jovial. It's a rare find when you have a community that can delve deep into wonkery and meme references in the same breath, but the DER Task Force is it.”
Matt Burton, VP of Sales and Business Development, Recurve
Matt is the VP of Sales and Business Development at Recurve, a clean tech company solving grid challenges by valuing distributed energy resources and establishing demand flexibility markets. Passionate about clean energy and addressing climate change, Matt focuses his time on evangelizing for demand side innovation and harmonizing energy resources across the value chain. He began his career commissioning, designing, and testing combined cycle power plants, followed by a swift move into asset performance management, digital twins, and power market analytics.
“Having a central forum for discussing opportunities and challenges in the sector of DER integration has been a ton of fun for me personally, and also provided great connections and continued opportunities to learn professionally.”
Spencer Fields, Manager, Market Strategy & Intelligence, EnergySage
Spencer Fields joins the DER TF from EnergySage, the nation's leading online solar marketplace, where he is the Manager of Market Strategy and Intelligence. Prior to joining EnergySage, Spencer spent five years as an environmental consultant for Synapse Energy Economics, splitting time between trying to convince utilities and system operators to improve their forecasting of renewable energy growth and analyzing the impact of the proposed Clean Power Plan. An eight-year industry veteran and solar owner himself, these days Spencer focuses on the perspectives of those across the solar spectrum, from ISOs & utilities to manufacturers and from installers to home and business owners.