Here are some details about the energy panelists and topic areas at the upcoming June 12 event in Carbondale: The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities. Our energy panel is going to help us look at our current situation and determine what our best options are to take advantage of the opportunities of clean energy in an inclusive way. It’s a rare treat that we get a gathering of such great minds in our little corner of the world, and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to expand our knowledge around these important topics. Seth Feaster will give the keynote presentation to open the Energy Section. Following the keynote presentation, the panelists will each talk about their topic areas for 10 minutes, then we’ll have a 20 minute discussion around the following concepts:

  1. How do we manage this transition without leaving anyone out?
  2. What are targets that we should aim for that are going to be the most widely beneficial to our communities?
  3. What are the main challenges and what are paths to overcome these challenges?

Seth Feaster

Seth Feaster has been an energy data analyst with IEEFA for four years, with a focus on the U.S. thermal coal industry and the power industry, which uses the vast majority of that coal. This focus also includes staying current on market developments in energy efficiency, renewable technology and projects, power grid management and advances in energy storage. Prior to working with IEEFA, Seth worked for a year at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York helping to manage public communications on the Web, creating digital charts and graphics and guiding content management. Before that, he spent nearly 25 years as a journalist, specializing in creating maps and charts with a focus on business, the economy and energy at The New York Times. Seth has a BA in Geography from the University of Vermont and an MSc in Geography from Bristol University in Bristol, England.

Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Portrait of the coal industry in the US
  • Drivers of the energy shift – disruptions and technology (no climate or activist references)
  • IL basin and some PBR discussion as drivers of the coal economy

He also will talk about the municipal impacts of these changes – the threat to workers and the ‘financial extraction’ that happens when major industry downsizes or closes.  They devalue their assets and thereby decrease their tax liability, strangling municipalities. This has been the trend for coal related assets for the last 10 years and looks to be the trend for the next ten years (see Westmoreland, Cloud Peak bankruptcies and others). This leaves workers stranded without pensions and health care.

Lesson:  Plan early for these changes and plan regionally.  Tax losses occur within a municipal boundary. There are opportunities to take advantage of these changes and develop regional economic investments in wind and solar.  They provide tax base benefits at a wider scale and can be passive income to farmers and others who are subject to large swings in the economy.

Karen Schauwecker

Karen Schauwecker earned her Masters degree at SIUC in 2015 in Geography and Environmental Resources with a specialization in local foods and sustainable agriculture. She joined the SIU Sustainability Office in late 2017 as the Program Coordinator. She is a member of the Saluki Energy Focus Group and the Tree Campus USA Committee. She currently serves on the board of Food Works as well. Past experiences include voter registration, native plant landscaping, teaching k-12 garden education, and working on a university farm.

Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Saluki Energy Focus Group
  • Financial Mechanisms to leverage for a transition
  • Making use of current policies and projecting future trends
  • Avenues and pathways toward transition: models or exemplary communities
  • Steps to take, areas of change, understanding the big picture
  • Local economic stability/ job training

Aur Beck

Aur ‘da energy mon’ Beck is an energy efficiency advocate, an IBEW electrician, and is double NABCEP Certified  with his company, Advanced Energy Solutions ( ) installing solar since 1999. He is a founder and on the board of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association ( ). He has a weekly radio talk show, Your Community Spirit, ( ) but he would like to be known mostly for Oil Addicts Anonymous International (a real 12 step program), In his spare time he likes to volunteer through Rotary.

Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Training for solar and efficiency
  • Oil Addicts Anonymous International: Overcoming our fear or ignorance of reducing our personal fossil fuel use and the benefits of doing so

Tim Michels

University of Houston, Houston, TX Honors Program 1972, BA English.  Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, Master of Architecture 1976. He is a registered Architect in Missouri. Tim started Energy Resources Group, Inc., an energy consulting firm, in 1975 to be a bridge between new technology and the built environment.  He helped found Energy Teller, Inc. in 1985, which develops next generation power monitoring equipment from patented technology. He is a published author, lectures widely on energy efficiency and renewable energy to lay and technical audiences and is an adjunct faculty member in the EECE department at Washington University.

Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy are tools of local economic development.  We can work ourselves out of this crisis – saving carbon and the economy.
  • There is a  $2+Trillion market in the USA for energy efficiency that pays back < 4 years.  Support 2.5 million jobs over 10 years. Will put USA back to 1973 level of energy consumption
  • Everyone can become net zero CO2 producers with a < 10 year payback.  Where else can you get a guaranteed 10+% ROI?
  • There is capital galore trying to invest in this reality; we need to help channel it thoughtfully so that it helps all in the community.
  • For this to take hold, we need educational institutions to make the above an investment policy and demonstrate it as an educational priority for students and communities.

Amanda Pankau

Amanda Pankau is an Energy Campaign Coordinator with Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) in Illinois. She is working alongside other organizations, leaders, and citizens to develop creative solutions to advance Illinois’ clean energy economy, ensure a just transition for coal communities, and to raise up downstate voices and stories. A central Illinois native, Amanda earned a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Southern Illinois University. After graduate school, she spent 10 years in southernmost Illinois working as an Environmental Consultant in the energy industry and a community organizer.

Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Falling cost of renewables and energy storage.
  • Importance of state renewable policy.
  • Opportunities for prioritizing jobs and justice in energy policy.  Just transition and social justice policies must be at the heart of our clean energy future, etc.
  • What existing IL state renewable policy looks like.  2016 Future Energy Jobs Act. 25% Renewable Portfolio Standard. IL Solar for All. Community Solar. Energy efficiency, etc.
  • What future IL state renewable policy might look like. Clean Energy Jobs Act or similar future legislation to increase the RPS, promote electric vehicle infrastructure, increase energy efficiency incentives, decarbonize the power sector.