From 2014-2015 Eleanor Stein was Project Manager for the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative at the New York Public Service Commission. As part of the REV leadership team, her responsibilities included representing REV publicly, coordinating the many aspects of the REV project, managing the REV public participation process, and developing the environmental justice agenda.
She brings both extensive experience and rare capacity in facilitation of stakeholder processes, mediating settlements, and bringing together diverse and divergent interests. She has taught mediation and negotiation at both the law school and professional training level. Before REV, she served for twenty years as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission. She presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard proceedings, as well as the Con Edison climate resiliency collaborative following Superstorm Sandy, a process engaging New York City, New York State, environmental advocates, academia, consumer representatives, and labor, in addition to the utility.
Eleanor holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in climate change law from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Since 2000 she has taught the Law of Climate Change: Domestic & Transnational at Albany Law School and at the State University of New York at Albany, where she also taught the Power Dialog, a national initiative to bring students together with top state policymakers for discussions of the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Agreement, state energy reform and carbon reduction. She has written and published extensively on climate change, energy and the environment, as well as environmental justice and energy democracy and works with America’s Power Plan.
EXPERIENCE AT THE DISTRIBUTION EDGE
Superstorm Sandy and New York’s 2013 Con Edison resilience collaborative dramatically illustrated the value of distributed energy resources for energy security in the face of extreme weather. With the participation of New York City, distributed energy suppliers, and the environmental and academic communities, the collaborative addressed rebuilding solutions including distributed generation and energy efficiency as alternatives to retrofitting existing or building new utility infrastructure. Subsequently, as REV began, regulators took on broader industry structural issues, including the role of the utilities, incentives for growth of distributed resources, developing rules for community participation, and public mobilization. Her work focused on encouragement of community-based projects, including in low-income and environmental justice communities, and the development of conflict resolution mechanisms to accelerate interconnection and overcome barriers.
WHAT SHE OFFERS TEAMS TRYING TO ACCELERATE THEIR PROJECTS
Eleanor offers years of experience in moving the regulators and government generally away from maintaining the status quo and toward renewable and energy efficiency solutions, both in New York and the Midwest. This includes consideration of how regulators balance costs and benefits with industry and political considerations. She worked with environmental justice communities in New York City, and rural and other communities upstate, to bring developers and utilities together for plans to move ahead, while addressing community and developer concerns. She travelled the state to educate consumers and communities about opportunities for local distributed renewable energy projects, and recently published a guide to siting renewables in the Northeast.
WHAT PERSONALLY MOTIVATES HER TO WORK ON ISSUES AT THE DISTRIBUTION EDGE
Eleanor’s work developing the renewable and energy efficiency portfolio standards, recovering from Superstorm Sandy and the major hurricanes devastating upstate New York, and REV, stems from a dozen year-long commitment to addressing the causes and impacts of catastrophic climate change.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of EcoViva, a solidarity project in the US working with rural community organizers in El Salvador on climate adaptation and sustainable agriculture projects. Her study and teaching of climate change and her concern for the damage suffered by vulnerable communities in the US and in the developing world, motivate her to work on these projects. Without restructuring the nation’s energy systems, the US cannot reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and therefore cannot effectively combat climate change.