Energy VIPS set to address Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit


Jonathan Weisgall, chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, delivers his opening remarks during the fifth annual Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit & Expo 2012.
Jonathan Weisgall, chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, delivers his opening remarks during the fifth annual Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit & Expo 2012.


Imperial, California – Jonathan Weisgall, a vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway leads the slate of energy industry heavy hitters set to address the 7th Annual Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit that starts Wednesday (March 12) at the Quechan Resort in Winterhaven, California.

The keynote speaker for the Thursday (March 13) summit banquet will be Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez, who is the Assembly Assistant Majority Floor Leader. Among other notables set to address the Summit are: David Hochschild, commissioner of the California Energy Commission (CEC); David Olsen, member of the Board of Governors, California Independent System Operator (CAISO); and Bob Ramaekers, vice president for Tenaska; and Karl Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).

Weisgall is the opening keynote speaker on Thursday. The vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for MidAmerican, he also is chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies and of the Board of Directors of the Geothermal Energy Association.

He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he has taught a seminar on energy issues since 1990.

First elected in 2008, Assemblymember Pérez’s 56th Assembly District includes Imperial County, eastern Riverside County and all of the Salton Sea.  He has worked diligently to attract statewide attention to many local issues facing the desert areas he represents.

His legislative accomplishments include: developing a governance model for Salton Sea restoration that ensures the participation of local stakeholders and securing $2 million in the state budget for a funding feasibility study; maintaining small business access to capital through the reinstatement of a loan guarantee program and other measures to ensure loans and technical assistance reach the small business community facilitating renewable energy development in the desert region through streamlined permitting and local planning grants.

Assemblymember Pérez serves on the Assembly Committees of: Government Organization; Insurance; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy; and Revenue & Taxation.

Commissioner Hochschild and Commissioner Olsen will speak on a panel that addresses “California’s New Energy Future: Statewide Initiatives and Perspectives.”

Hochschild was appointed to fill the environmental position on the state Energy Commission in February 2013 by Governor Jerry Brown. His career has spanned public service, environmental advocacy and the private sector. He got involved in solar energy field in 2001 in San Francisco as a special assistant to Mayor Willie Brown.

He co-founded the Vote Solar Initiative, an advocacy organization promoting solar policies at the local, state and federal level. He served as executive director of a national consortium of leading solar manufacturers and worked for five years at Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley. He was awarded the Sierra Club’s Trailblazer Award, the American Lung Association’s Clean Air Hero Award and the Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roof True Champion Award.

Olsen joined the Board of Governors of the CAISO in 2012. He is the former President/CEO of Patagonia, Inc., a leader in corporate sustainability and one of the first corporations to get its electricity from renewable energy. Until 2010, he led California’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative and organized collaborative planning for resource and transmission development. Earlier, he led development of wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power projects in more than 20 countries, as president of Clipper Windpower Development, president of Peak Power Corporation, president/CEO of Northern Power Systems, and vice president of Magma Power Company.

In 2000, he led creation of the California Climate Action Registry, the first state registry of greenhouse gases and foundation for The Climate Registry that now includes 31 states.

Ramaekers is the lunch keynote speaker. He manages Tenaska’s domestic power plant development efforts, including both natural gas-fueled and renewable projects. He also leads permitting activities projects being developed by affiliate Tenaska Solar Ventures.

In addition, Ramaekers represents Tenaska on various industry subcommittees and task forces, including the PJM Interconnection Planning Committee.

Before joining Tenaska in 1996, he worked in the resource planning department of Nebraska Public Power District.

Gawell, the executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association since 1997, will deliver the Friday brunch keynote address. Previously, he was the director of government affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. He also has held senior positions in several national environmental organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation and The Wilderness Society.

He worked in several positions in the U.S. House of Representative, including associate staff of the House Appropriations Committee, legislative director for Representative David Skaggs (D-Colo.) and legislative assistant to Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.).

Hosted by the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp., this year’s Summit is presented by the Imperial Irrigation District.

More information about the Summit is available at or by or by calling 760-353-8332.


  1. I’m an IVC alumni who attained 3 certifications in the field of Electrical/Renewable Energy, offered at IVC. Due to my new skill sets and enthusiasm for electronics I was hired to work for Sandy’s Electronic Parts, one of the largest electronic parts store in Northern Nv. Now, if the rumors are true, I’m looking forward to partake in the development of a new solar field in Stillwater NV. I encourage high school students and Imperial Valley locals alike to take heed on this great opportunity. THANK YOU ALL WHO SUPPORTED ME! I will always call Brawley, Back Home.

    • There you have it folks- and hopefully in time as economic diversification takes a stronger hold and trickles down in our local economy our strongest and brightest kids will no longer have to swim away from this desert island in search of opportunity and brighter futures.

  2. If MidAmerican/Warren Buffet are here it is a good indicator that our local and regional economic development organizations have done a fine job of promoting the renewable energy potential of our region. Tip of the hat to IID for having the vision to fund the renewable energy feasibility study that identified and quantified the renewable energy potential of our region and for their collaboration with our economic development organizations to promote our region’s renewable energy potential. It appears as though the collaboration has been successful. Given this success and momentum there should be genuine optimism that the development of the geothermal energy potential in and around the Salton Sea will also be successful with more proactive effort and more direct and honest dialog regarding the future health risks to our communities. Economic diversification from the growth and development of renewable energy production in our region is part of the long term solution to the 25-30% unemployment of our one horse economy.

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