BEL Program Leadership
Director of Low and Moderate-Income Initiatives
Adaora Ifebigh leads BEL’s low-income and energy equity program initiatives through support of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), where she is the Program Director for Energy Access. Her focus includes equal energy access for low and moderate-income communities. In her role at NRECA, she developed and leads the Advancing Energy Access for All initiative, focused on creating a sustainable practice around supporting utilities and stakeholders as they holistically serve their community members, especially those who struggle to pay their bills. This work included a flagship Department of Energy-funded project, Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources (ACCESS), that she managed. She has previously worked at the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E managing research and development projects.
Ms. Roepke specializes in building coalitions. She has served in leadership roles for DOE-funded solar and energy access programs that have engaged thousands of utility staff to meet new challenges through innovative solutions. Debra has extensive experience in strategic alliances for the service of low-income populations as she founded and grew “one of the most effective and efficient charities in the DC region”, Computer C.O.R.E. Prior to this, she specialized in IT and research analysis for the US Navy and Marine Corps. Her experience includes effective management of large staffs and the successful engagement of diverse groups with representatives of all age groups and more than 40 nations. She has a degree in Biology from Macalester, a Masters in Science, Technology and Public Policy from GWU, and a Master Certificate in Six Sigma from Villanova.
BEL Board Leadership
Gary Connett, Great River Energy (retired)
Gary is a recently retired electric utility executive with a long-standing and demonstrated history of working in the national electric utility industry. Prior to his retirement, Gary was the director of demand-side management and member services for Great River Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative located in Maple Grove, MN. In that capacity Gary was responsible for the organization’s nationally recognized demand-side management programs, which included demand response, conservation and energy efficiency, and beneficial electrification initiatives.
Today Gary continues to be actively engaged in the electric energy business by being a consultant to the National Rural Electric Association, and Co-Chairman of the newly formed Beneficial Electrification League. Gary holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN.
Keith Dennis, NRECA
Keith Dennis is a Vice President in the Business and Technologies Strategies Division of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Keith has an interdisciplinary background in engineering, business, and law and works with NRECA’s Legislative, Regulatory Policy, and Technical teams on issues related to energy end use, including energy efficiency and demand response. Keith has published numerous papers on beneficial electrification and leads this initiative on behalf of NRECA.
Prior to joining NRECA, Keith worked at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) where he led a Policy and Guidance Team for a $3.2 billion energy efficiency and conservation grant program. He also served at The White House Council on Environmental Quality where he supported several large energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. He has also held numerous positions in the private sector.
Keith holds an A.B. in Engineering and Environmental Sciences from Dartmouth College, a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) and Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and a Master of Studies in Environmental Law (M.S.E.L), summa cum laude, from Vermont Law School. He is also licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.).
Robin Roy, Ph.D., Principal, Next Energy US
Robin advises government, industry and environmental organizations on energy policy and strategy, focusing primarily on practical steps toward an energy future that is deeply decarbonized, abundant, resilient, and economically vibrant. Focus areas include beneficial electrification (serving on the Board of the of the Beneficial Electrification League), advanced storage and grid-responsive consumer technologies to integrate clean electricity
Robin works at the nexus between the practicalities of competitive markets, effective public policy, and the opportunity created by technological and institutional innovation, with a particular focus on bringing greater mutual understanding among diverse stakeholders where that can advance business, consumer, and environmental opportunities.
Robin previously co-founded Next Energy P/L, an adviser to Australian governments, industry and environmental organizations on energy policy, strategy and project management. He was formerly Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, focusing on new directions for federal and state clean energy policy, and continues to consult to NRDC. He previously served with the U.S Congress Office of Technology Assessment advising on nuclear plant life management, vulnerability of energy systems to terrorism and natural disaster and energy market restructuring, and early in his career worked at Pacific Gas and Electric Company on demand response and combined heat and power.
Robin received a PhD – Civil Engineering, MS – Engineering-Economic Systems and BS – Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.
Ruth Calderon, Golden Spread Electric Cooperative
Ms. Ruth Calderon joined Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, Inc. in February 2012 and has 13 years of experience in leading environmental and regulatory initiatives. In her current position as Environmental Policy and Legislative Affairs Manager, Ms. Calderon effectively advocates for rural electric cooperative issues and is responsible for the development of strategy and policy related to environmental and legislative concerns. Ms. Calderon currently serves as President of the National Rural Electric Environmental Association . Before joining the Golden Spread team, Ms. Calderon worked for Xcel Energy Services, where she managed regulatory case filings as a Regulatory Case Specialist. Ms. Calderon holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from West Texas A&M University.
Diane Huis, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives
Diane Huis is the Senior Vice President, Innovation and Business Development for the NC Electric Cooperatives. In this role, she is responsible for working closely with the member cooperatives as well as the statewide team to identify and incorporate beneficial electrification opportunities in the areas of electric transportation, industry, agriculture and grid flexibility. Diane’s previous experience with the NC Electric Cooperatives includes wholesale power supply resource planning and portfolio management, risk management, transmission planning and regulatory affairs. Diane graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of NC. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina Class XXV, a program that engages leaders from across NC to learn about issues related to government, economic development, health and human services, education and the environment.
Carla Frisch, Former Board Member
Carla was a board member until 2021 while she was a Principal at RMI working on America’s Pledge. America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the United States remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Before joining RMI, Carla worked at the US Department of Energy for ten years under three different administrations. She directed policy and analysis offices focused on climate and environment, energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transportation, and electricity systems. She led large, collaborative teams and multi-million-dollar portfolios, resulting in better designed national energy and climate policies. Carla worked extensively on climate vulnerabilities and solutions, including on the National Climate Assessment and US Midcentury Strategy. Carla also has experience working in local government and is a Certified Energy Measurement and Verification Professional.
General Manager & Beneficial Electrification Ambassador
Steven Koep currently serves as General Manager of Beneficial Electrification League (BEL). With specific expertise and experience in the evolving Electric Water Heating, Demand Response, Renewable Storage and Beneficial Electrification (BE) markets, Steve has over 25 years of experience working with the electric utility industry to develop new opportunities for leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.