CEC - The Future of the Grid: On the Path to Decarbonization Event Logo

CEC - The Future of the Grid: On the Path to Decarbonization

by Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (CSGE)

Professional Speaker Sustainability Energy

Fri, Dec 3, 2021

1 PM – 2 PM EST (GMT-5)

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The U.S. commitment to the Net-Zero by 2050 goal has led to a higher demand for electrification of the grid by integrating renewable energy generation. The existing grid cannot meet decarbonization goals without further investment in infrastructure to ensure a stable and resilient power supply. What are the opportunities and bottlenecks in this process and how can the future grid accommodate various clean energy sources?

In this session, industry experts will focus on the necessary changes needed on the grid today in order to have a flexible, stable and clean power supply in the future.

Cornell Energy Connection (CEC), Cornell’s premier energy event, will be held virtually throughout November and December. Sessions will all consist of panels of professionals sharing perspectives on key issues impacting the sector, including energy transition, decarbonization, and the impact government and investors have on the future of clean power supply. For more information on speakers, go to cec2021.splashthat.com.


Lang Tong's profile photo

Lang Tong

Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professor in Engineering & the Cornell Site Director of the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSerc)

Cornell site director

Lang Tong joined Cornell University in 1998 where he is now the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professor in Engineering and the Cornell site director of the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSerc). . He received the B.E. degree from Tsinghua University, Beijing, P.R. China in 1985, and PhD degree in EE from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana in 1991. He was a Postdoctoral Research Affiliate at the Information Systems Laboratory, Stanford University in 1991.Lang Tong's current research focuses on energy systems and smart power grid. In particular, his group investigates data analytics, system optimization, and market issues associated with renewable energy, storage, and the electrification of transportation systems. He is part of the Engineering and Economics of Electricity Research Group.Professor Tong is the 2018 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy. A Fellow of IEEE and a Distinguished Lecturer (2009), Professor Tong received numerous paperawards including the IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award (2004), IEEE Communications Society Leonard G. Abraham Prize Paper Award (2004), IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Outstanding Young Author Award (1993), IEEE Power & Energy Systems General Meeting Best Paper Selection (2015,2016,2018,2019) and Prize Conference Paper (2019). He is a coauthor of seven student paper awards, including two IEEE Signal Processing Society Young Author Best Paper Awards (2000,2008) for papers published in the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing.

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Alicia Barton


FirstLight Power


Alicia Barton is the Chief Executive Officer of FirstLight Power (“FirstLight”), a leading clean power producer and energy storage company with a portfolio that includes nearly 1.4GW of pumped-hydro storage (including Northfield Mountain, the largest energy storage facility in New England),battery storage, hydroelectric generation, and solar generation—the largest clean energy generation portfolio operating in New England today. FirstLight’s mission and vision is to accelerate the decarbonization of the electric grid by owning, operating, and integrating large-scale renewable energy and storage assets to meet the region’s growing clean energy needs and to deliver an electric system that is clean, reliable, affordable, and equitable.

Prior to joining FirstLight in 2020, Ms. Barton held several clean energy leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. Her past public service included recently serving as the President and as CEO of the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and previously as CEO the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), where she helped both New York and Massachusetts to advance and implement nation-leading clean energy strategies. Ms. Barton’s prior private sector experience includes serving as Co-Chair of the Energy and Cleantech Practice at Foley Hoag LLP, and as Chief of Operations of the Global Utility business unit at SunEdison where she oversaw teams building utility-scale wind and solar projects. Ms. Barton’s career has been dedicated to advancing new clean energy projects and markets in areas such as offshore wind, solar, energy storage, efficiency and accelerating clean technology innovation. She also serves on the Board of Directors of numerous prominent climate-focused organizations including Greentown Labs (where she serves as Board Chair) and the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

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Kate McGinnis (MBA ‘07)

Managing Director of Global Strategy and Partnerships



Kate McGinnis is a technology leader with over 20 years of experience in energy and environmental markets. She is a strategy expert in renewable energy, energy efficiency, emissions reduction and storage technologies, and the interplay between cleantech and traditional energy sources. Her expertise is in managing uncertainty at the intersection of policy, environment, and technological innovation. Kate has worked in project development in countries on six continents over her career.

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Jeff Weiss ('79)

Distributed Sun

Executive Chairman


Jeff Weiss is the co-founder, co-chairman, and managing director of Distributed Sun (DSUN), which develops and operates community solar, C&I, and utility-scale projects in 11 states.Jeff leads DSUN’s capital formation, business development, strategy, and governance. An early digital media and commerce entrepreneur, Jeff has led companies in digital media, renewable energy, cyber and physical security, intelligence and corporate fraudmitigation, mission preparedness and training, software development, and transformational management. Jeff is also a Washington Leadership Co-Chairman of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), a board member of the Atkinson Center for Sustainability, a Trustee Council member of Cornell University, an Executive Committee member of DC’s oldest synagogue, a past co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Society, and a founding director of Shenandoah National Park Trust. He graduated from Cornell and Wharton.

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