The (United) AABE Experience: Encouraged, Enlightened, Empowered, and Inspired

Empowered to Move Forward Let’s Organize and Go Get It!

A collective event summary by Heather O’Neill, Laura Bartsch, Jeremiah Holston, Kate Johnson, Meron Lemmi, Jeremy McDiarmid, Cheryl Pretlow, and Janeen Said.  

Last week, our team had the privilege of attending the 2024 AABE (American Association of Blacks in Energy) National Conference, representing Advanced Energy United and our member companies, specifically a coalition of our members who joined us in a shared sponsorship in support of the event: Caelux, CTC Global, DNV, LS Power, Microsoft, Pattern Energy, Sunrun, and Utilidata.

We traveled to Anaheim to continue our engagement with the AABE community, learn about the impacts of policy implementation on diverse communities, and showcase the need for clean energy to be a central focus of discussion. We're proud to share that, in part due to our growing involvement with AABE over the years, we've seen great improvements in the representation and visibility of the clean energy industry in a critical space where we were previously absent. In addition to executives from our member companies LS Power, DNV, and Pattern Energy appearing on panels throughout the conference’s agenda, United’s President and CEO Heather O’Neill was featured on a C-Suite main stage discussion, United’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Laura Bartsch emceed the second full day of the conference, and United’s Sales Director Jeremiah Holston shared remarks representing our coalition sponsorship. 

While we cannot fully capture our #AABEExperience in a short blog post (or even a few posts), here are a few of the conference moments that inspired us most:   

  • In his keynote address, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Willie L. Phillips spoke about his career trajectory, highlighting the importance of mentors and advocates who helped him along the way. His call to action to find people in the industry and “bring them with you” stuck with several of us, particularly as much of our work is focused on the imperative of training our workforce for a clean energy future. Finding ways to prepare people for a career in clean energy is an essential component of making sure communities are not left behind during the energy transition. 
  • Dr. Calvin Mackie of STEM NOLA, an organization focused on providing young learners an opportunity to grow in their knowledge and desire within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) studies, energized us through his keynote address. As we continue to see disparities in qualified workers in the ever-growing energy industry, we need to take a long-view approach to solve this challenge, starting with the youngest members in our community. We were encouraged to learn about STEM NOLA and AABE’s partnership centered on building a more equitable workforce of the future.  
  • In her keynote address on the Inclusion Imperative, Colette Honorable (now of Exelon Corporation, and formerly a FERC Commissioner) emphasized the benefits that diversity brings companies. We were particularly moved by her message, “To whom much has been denied, much more is deserved” — a poignant and succinct reminder about why the energy transition must be centered on equity, justice, and inclusion.  
  • Did you know companies with diversity in their C-suite outperform their peers by 40%?  The "Women in Power: Conversation with Women in Leadership Disrupting the Energy Sector" panel discussion, featuring accomplished female leaders in the energy industry, offered a dynamic and inspiring exploration of women's transformative role in the traditionally male-dominated energy industry. For us, the session served as an important reminder of the challenges that women of color face in attaining leadership roles. We left the session motivated and hopeful, having gained insight into leadership, diversity, and empowerment. 

However, even with the forward progress we witnessed and uplifting messages received, we continued to hear gas and oil positioned as a viable long-term solution for our rising energy needs during the conference and, at times, saw the questioning of the dependability of clean energy to meet the needs of today. Changing this narrative will require a continued, collective commitment to demonstrating the resilience and benefits of the suite of advanced energy technologies we represent.  

There is a lot our industry can learn from AABE and its members as we diversify clean energy. Advanced energy companies should lead the way in helping to shape the industry we want to see. We look forward to deepening our engagement through more collaborative conservations with AABE, continuing to encourage our member companies and staff to actively participate and support AABE initiatives, and keeping up the momentum we have built towards an equitable energy transition. 

Topics: Event, Advanced Energy United



Advanced Energy Perspectives is Advanced Energy United's blog presenting news, analysis, and commentary on creating an advanced energy economy. Join the conversation!

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