Top Voices in the Energy Central Community for 2020 – Energy Management Network

Posted to Energy Central in the Energy Efficiency Group
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Matt Chester's picture
Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

  • Member since 2018
  • 11,158 items added with 1,600,201 views
  • Dec 16, 2020

A few years ago, Energy Central created a Community Platform with the idea of connecting every power industry professional in a collaborative environment.  Our goal was to give professionals in the industry a way to share, learn, and connect.  Since that time, our communities have grown, engagement is at an all-time high, and we are seeing more and more collaboration and sharing.  Making all this happen is you!

We know there are plenty of places and ways in which you can stay up-to-date on what is happening in the utility industry, but what makes Energy Central unparalleled is the true sense of Community created by every one of you.  Whether you engage by contributing posts, sharing links, asking questions, adding your events to the EC calendar, conversing and debating issues in the comments section, or even just reading, it is your voice and your involvement that make Energy Central Communities thrive. So, thank you for that!

As we look back on a noteworthy year, the Energy Central Team wanted to recognize the members on Energy Central who went above and beyond—frequently sharing news and content, reliably starting conversations across the site, and providing genuinely high-value contributions.

Each day this week, we’ll be publishing an article highlighting the Top Voice of 2020 for each of our 6 Networks. As part of this recognition, we asked each of them to answer some quick questions to highlight the past year in the industry and give us more of an insight into their lives—I hope you enjoy!

So, without further ado, thank you and congratulations to the following Top Voices in the Energy Management Network in 2020!

See the already published Top Voices Articles here:


Ahmad Faruqui – Principal of Brattle

Link to Ahmad’s Profile

If you could give one piece of advice to newly joined members of the Energy Central Community, what would it be?

“Approach issues with an open mind. Be willing to listen to opposing viewpoints.”


What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

The decision of so many utilities to begin the journey to Net Zero.


What drives you to engage with your fellow Energy Central Community members on a regular basis?

“I learn a lot by sharing ideas with others.”


Katherine Johnson – President of Johnson Consulting Group

Link to Katherine’s Profile

What’s something that your fellow community members might not know about and would surprise them?

“I wrote my first novel in 2018 and revised it in 2020. “Grit & Granite” is a fictionalized account of my father’s battle with corporate greed. It’s available on Amazon.”


What topics do you hope to read/write about more in 2021?

“Something other than Covid-19! I want to read about how the energy efficiency industry has bounced back with new solutions, and reengaged customers through a variety of new offerings.  I am especially interested in seeing how beneficial electrification plays out, especially for the natural gas utilities that still play a vital role in offering these programs.”


If you could give one piece of advice to newly joined members of the Energy Central Community, what would it be?

“Read and engage. This is a wonderful forum to learn, make contacts, and expand your knowledge about emerging trends in the industry. It’s an important part of my morning routine.”



Jennifer Szaro – President/CEO of Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP)

Link to Jennifer’s Profile

What has been the most interesting utility-focused story for you to follow this past year?

“SMUD’s efforts to think more holistically about how they are measuring carbon reduction has really had my attention.  I love that they are moving away from merely measuring the kilowatt-hour savings of an energy efficiency project to measuring impact.  I believe this unified decarbonization measurement approach will be much more effective in aligning their efficiency, renewable energy, and electrification goals.  I hope that regulatory bodies across the U.S. are paying attention.  Holistic goals that focus in on an overarching issue like decarbonization should result in more impactful projects and investments by utilities rather than forcing individual internal utility departments to parse out their program spending in silos to ensure that they can meet all of the various regulatory goals they are facing.  Additionally, these approaches often don’t take the customer experience into account.  Customers don’t care which bucket of money you draw from to help them get to their desired solution set.  If they want energy storage for resilience, efficiency upgrades that include a demand flexibility component for bill savings, and an electric vehicle charging station, they don’t want to have to work through three different utility program managers to achieve their goals.  That’s messy and inefficient.  Utilities should be designing more holistic and integrated approaches for their decarbonization initiatives that allow for cross-organization collaboration, innovative thinking, and a fluid customer experience.  And regulators should facilitate that.”


When you’re not espousing thought leadership in the utility sector, what are your favorite ways to unwind and pass the time?

“Under non-COVID conditions, our family lives on the ocean.  Having time in the water is very important to us.  I grew up surfing on Florida’s east coast and have passed that down to my three children.  We love to dive, kayak, fish, and paddleboard as a family.  It’s our happy place.” 


If you could give one piece of advice to newly joined members of the Energy Central Community, what would it be?

“Engage!  This community can be so amazingly helpful.  But you have to engage with others.  Ask questions.  Share your thoughts.”



Congratulations once again to our Top Voices in the Energy Management Network, and thanks to all Energy Central Community Members for enabling the community and platform to thrive this year! And keep an eye out for the next Top Voices Articles to come later this week…

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Dec 16, 2020

Thanks for all your incredible contributions over this past year! 

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