TREIA Board of Directors
Melissa Miller, President
Melissa Miller, Project Development Manager at EDF-RE, has over 13 years of experience developing Texas renewables. As former President of Miller Wind + Renewables and Vice President of Texas Development for Cielo Wind Power, Ms. Miller has diverse experience in large-scale commercial wind project development, including the operational 161MW Brazos Wind Project, 78MW Golden Spread Panhandle Wind Ranch, 161MW Spinning Spur Wind Ranch, and the 161MW Spinning Spur Two Wind Ranch and the development of the 200MW Unity Wind Project.
Through Miller Wind + Renewables, Ms. Miller consulted in the areas of tax abatement and real estate negotiation for a number of renewable energy developers and developed large-scale wind and solar projects for landowners in Texas. As a longtime advocate for Texas economic and energy initiatives, Melissa currently serves as a TREIA's board President. She is also the former Executive Director for the Austin Independent Business Alliance.
Lacey Breeden, Vice President
Lacey focuses her practice in the Energy industry. Prior to joining the firm, she served as in-house corporate and regulatory counsel for a private wind energy development company. There, she was responsible for the full range of legal issues related to the organization's business activities, including purchase, generation, sale and transmission of power assets, and other general commercial, compliance and real property rights matters.
Steve Wiese, Treasurer
Steve Wiese has been a leader in Texas’ distributed solar, wind energy, and energy efficiency sectors for nearly 20 years. He pioneered development of, and has made major contributions to, the continued success of most of the state’s utility-sponsored solar incentive programs, played key roles in enabling solar leasing and commercial PACE financing in Texas, and achieved a unanimous recommendation to substantially boost local solar goals as Chairman of Austin’s Local Solar Advisory Committee in 2012. Steve has been an active contributor to both TXSES and TREIA, having recently served as TREIA’s President for 3 years. Steve currently works as a Senior Consultant in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at Frontier Associates, where he leads and contributes to diverse projects related to distributed solar energy, energy efficiency, demand response, behavioral approaches to conservation and load shifting, and energy market and policy development. Prior to joining Frontier, Steve was a Founder and Principal at Clean Energy Associates, and worked at Conservation Services Group, Planergy, and the Congressional Research Service.
Nisha Desai, Secretary
Nisha is the managing director of Aurora Clean Energy Partners, a provider of growth strategy, business development, and project development services in renewable energy and clean technology. Previously, Nisha served as the Vice President, Distributed Generation for NRG Energy. In that position, she led a team of project development and engineering professionals to identify and create resilient and sustainable on-site energy solutions for commercial, industrial and institutional clients. Prior to NRG, Nisha had a number of leadership roles in the energy and water industries, with a significant focus on business model and technology innovation. Her development expertise included solar power, water infrastructure, energy storage, CHP, and fuel cell projects. Nisha has also served several years as a management consultant with Booz & Company’s energy practice, and she has held finance and business development roles with Enron and Mobil. She holds an economics degree from Yale and and MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was an American Association of University Women Selected Professions Fellow.
Hala N. Ballouz
Hala N. Ballouz is the President and owner of Electric Power Engineers, with multiple offices in the U.S. and internationally. She has over 20 years’ experience in integration of energy resources in transmission and distribution networks. Ballouz is an expert in transmission system analysis, substation and distribution system design, resource and grid feasibility studies, energy storage, renewable energy, as well as distribution system planning and operations. In her recent role as President of TREIA Ms Ballouz initiated a mission to open the barriers to facilitate market readiness for Distributed Energy Resource integration. An industry leader in renewable energy integration, Ms. Ballouz currently serves as international consultant in this capacity in Jamaica, Hawaii, and is on the board of several organizations, and Jordan Before practicing professional engineering consulting, she earned her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University in the USA.
Dr. Peter Muhoro is the Director of Energy Research and Strategies at Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), the largest electric distribution cooperative in the United States. Peter works to strategize on the implementation of cutting-edge, cost-saving technologies such as energy storage, demand response, advanced lighting, and micro-grids, to mention a few. His role oversees initiatives that help the cooperative advance in technology while keeping rates affordable for the members.
Prior to PEC, peter served as an Advisor at the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), the technology research arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Peter worked with the whole CRN research portfolio providing both technical and project management support. His specific areas of research were in Renewables, Power Generation, and Environmental Issues. His goals were to find innovative ways to advance technology in power generation while keeping rates low and addressing environmental issues.
Peter is an entrepreneur at heart. He has launched two small businesses, a consulting firm focused on addressing bottom of the pyramid issues and poverty reduction through the access of electricity and serves on the board of directors of two not-for-profit organizations and several committees. He is a sought after speaker both on the national and international arena.
Peter holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics with an emphasis in energy policy from the University of Michigan.
Jamie Mitchell has been actively involved in Texas Renewable Energy Policy for over 20 years. Currently, Jamie serves as state government relations liaison for Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility of the City of Austin. The utility currently receives 25 % of its energy from renewable resources with a goal of obtaining 55% of its energy from renewables by 2025. The city owned utility has contracts for over 600 MW of solar, over 1,000 MW of wind, and provides incentive payments for over 20 MW of customer owned solar. The utility also runs an award winning energy efficiency program which has decreasedpeak demand by over 1,000 MW since 1982.
In his role representing a utility which focusses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, he has been actively involved in not only renewable energy policy but also legislation concerning energy efficiency, green building, and all aspects of the electric utility industry. Jamie got his start as a legislative aide working on renewable energy bills starting in 1993. Since then, he was worked with environmental groups, the General Land Office, and as a policy consultant to energy efficiency and renewable energy firms.
TREIA is in the unique position of representing all aspects of our growing renewable energy industry. As such, it can provide a unified message to decision makers. This is especially important as renewable energy becomes a larger player in Texas and faces attack from various political factions. Hisexperience at the state capitolas a legislative aide, lobbyist, and now representing a utility which is at the forefront ofrenewable energy deployment can play a key role in formulating and executing an effective policy to promote continued growth of our industry in Texas.
Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter
Cyurs is the Conservation Director of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club. He has a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on water policy and the dispute over the Rio Grande water with Mexico. Mr. Reed has been leading the Texas Clean Energy Solutions Project, which focuses on policies and projects to build renewables, energy efficiency, demand response and energy storage opportunities in Texas
Raina is currently a partner and the General Manager of Caprock Renewables, a renewable energy start-up focused on developing mid-market solar projects for C&I customers in Texas. Raina has worked closely with the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) over the past year through a rebrand and helped organize TREIA’s annual conference in November 2015. For the past 10 years, Raina was the co-owner of Cielo Wind Power and has been involved in every aspect of wind energy development.
Leslie Libby graduated from Montana State University in 1984 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. In December 1992, she graduated with a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. From 1991 until she retired in 2015, Leslie worked on solar energy projects and programs for Austin Energy, the City of Austin municipally owned utility. During her tenure she had many roles with Austin Energy including PV system performance and solar data monitoring and analysis, PV system maintenance contract management, project management of both ground mount and rooftop PV system installations, and solar incentive program design and implementation. Under her direction, Austin Energy provided customers with $32.5 million in incentives, which has allowed 2100 participants to install 8.7 MW of solar on their rooftops. Leslie worked on teams responsible for developing innovative solar tariffs, researching the effects of co-location of Wind and Solar on constrained west Texas transmission lines, and rooftop solar potential for the City of Austin. In addition, during her tenure, with the assistance of Department of Energy and State Energy Conservation Office grants she developed and implemented Austin Energy's Solar Rooftop Program, Solar Explorer Program and the award-winning Solar for Schools Program. For more than two decades, she has been active in local, state and national renewable energy organizations. She currently serves on the board of The Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance and on the board of Solar Austin. Leslie is the owner of Libby Solar, a solar energy consultancy.
Rick is President of Sustainable Energy Strategies, Inc. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Texas, and his career has spanned over 32 years with major electric utility companies, a wind energy research center, a university, and his own consulting practice. He has been involved in the development of over 1,600 MW of wind generation currently in operation.
John Hoffner joined AECOM (now merged with URS) in February 2015 to build a solar design center of excellence in its Austin Texas office. Before AECOM, John performed similar work at CH2M HILL where he managed the PV design team for utility-scale PV projects in the Middle East, Canada, and the U.S. Prior to CH2M HILL, John was with Conservation Services Groups (CSG) for 11 years as the Director of Technical Services/Renewable Energy responsible for installing, operating, and monitoring over 2 MW of distributed PV systems on schools, retail stores, and utility sites. He also worked with several other PV specialists to write and implement a solar PV training program at Austin Community College (ACC) for NABCEP certification. He taught classes for entry and advanced level NAPCEP training over a five year period (2004 – 2009). Before CSG he managed the Renewable Energy division for the City of Austin Electric Utility (now called Austin Energy) from 1983 to 1996. John executed the contract for the City of Austin’s share of the first utility-scale wind project in west Texas, and negotiated a contract for a 5 MW landfill gas project. He also lead the team to design and install two, 300 kW PV plants in Austin. He is a registered professional engineer and served on the City’s Resource Management Commission for 3 years, and hosts a green talk radio program called “Shades of Green” each Thursday from 1:00 to 2:00 PM at the community FM radio station KOOP in Austin, TX.
Jeff Clark has worked within the public affairs arena for nearly 30 years in both public and private capacities. With experiences extending from the nation’s statehouses, to Washington, DC; he has developed a unique expertise, revitalizing and rebuilding governmental affairs teams to efficiently and aggressively deliver results for their clients.
In his current role, he is Executive Director of The Wind Coalition, the leading organization advocating for renewable energy within the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Jeff manages a team of technical and policy experts working to educate the public and lawmakers on renewable energy and to support state policies that will facilitate wind and solar energy’s continued development and integration.
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Jeff is a 6th generation Texan and returned to West Texas as a college student. He attended Abilene Christian University where he studied Political Science. He is currently pursuing a masters degree in energy policy at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. He and his wife, Judge Elisabeth Earle, reside in Austin and have two teenage daughters.
SMU Geothermal Lab
Maria Richards is the SMU Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences. Her research is on geothermal resources and energy development. Projects vary from computer generated temperature-depth maps for Google.org to on-site geothermal exploration of the volcanic islands in the Northern Mariana Islands. Currently her concentration is on the conversion of oil/gas wells into geothermal energy producers.
GLEAMM - Texas Tech University
Thomasson serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research (OSVPR) at Texas Tech University. In his university role, Russell works with faculty, industry and governmental decision makers in pursuit of major research and development opportunities in collaboration with GLEAMM, Group NIRE, National Labs, federally funded facilities and regional economic development corporations.
In addition to his role at the university, Thomasson serves as President and Board Chairman of GLEAMM-Global Laboratory for Energy Asset Management and Marketing, a Texas nonprofit corporation and controlling shareholder in Group NIRE, a for-profit energy field testing and commercial development company. GLEAMM is focused on advancing technologies and services for modernizing the electricity grid infrastructure and business model. GLEAMM is supported by the largest public-private research and development award in the history of Texas Tech University.
Prior to joining the OSVPR, Thomasson served as Associate Vice President of Research Commercialization. Thomasson also served as Chief of Staff to Kent Hance, former Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, where he oversaw, among other responsibilities, the research and development strategy for the entire university system.
Currently the Manager of Resource Planning and Integration for the City of Georgetown, and has served in the capacity since 2008, with a primary role of managing the City’s Municipally Owned Utility power supply. Previous work includes managing payroll for the Health and human Services Commission, fixing computer equipment for CVS and Walgreens, and running his own tech repair company. Chris is a graduate of Georgetown High School, holding a bachelor’s in Economics/Finance from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Texas State. Chris is also a Certified Government Finance Officer through the Government Finance Officers Association. Chris is best known for orchestrating the successful transition of Georgetown’s power supply from a single provider that was over 90% fossil fuel based, to being 100% wind and solar powered by 2017. Outside of energy Chris acts as the City’s economist and lead contract negotiator including water rights, garbage contracts, technological systems, development agreements, etc. Chris is married with three kids. His dissertation titled “Does Proximity Matter? Measuring the effect green space has on residential water consumption”, and can be found in the Texas State MPA ARP archives.
GridNEXT Conference Committee Chair: Hala Ballouz, Electric Power Engineers
Luncheons & Webinar Committee Chair: Nisha Desai, Aurora Clean Energy Partners
Marketing & Communications Committee Chair: Leslie Libby, Libby Solar
Membership & Supporting Organizations Committee Chair: Raina Hornaday, Caprock Renewables
Nominating Committee: John Hoffner, AECOM
Policy& Data Committee: Rick Walker, Sustainable Energy Strategies, Inc.