In advance of this year’s Energy Leadership Summit, we’re profiling previous award winners to detail their experiences and to share what winning an Energy Leadership Award meant to them.
You can read our first profile on 2019 Chairman’s Award winner, Tom Ranken, here.
Our second profile is 2018 Individual Energy Leadership Award winner, Dr. Michael Pomfret. Dr. Pomfret is the managing director of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds and in his time there, he has overseen the development of this open-access facility for prototyping, testing, and validating solar, battery, and system software/ hardware integration technologies.
Q: What did you win the award for?
A: I won the individual achievement award for my work at the Testbeds, which was largely setting up the facility and growing a relatively large base of users from around the cleantech industry, including outside of WA. That growth resulted in engagement of entrepreneurs and investors in our programs and more attention for clean energy innovators in our region.
Q: What did winning an award at the Energy Leadership Summit mean to you?
A: The award was validation that we were doing something right. That probably sounds obvious, but I don’t mean to be flippant about it. When I started at the Testbeds, I don’t think anybody on the team that was launching it really knew what we were doing. We built a plan for a unique facility based on hypotheses about innovative companies who, in large part, didn’t exist yet. Those early days were crazy and I had tunnel vision around finding people to use the lab. The award told me and our team that what we were doing was working in a way that was recognizable to the community.
Q: What was your favorite part of the Energy Leadership Summit in previous years?
A: My favorite part is the networking. The ELS is where I’ve met so many of the leaders in our region’s energy sector and it’s an easy place to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in a while. Those connections have proven to be the best way to grow our business as well. The tracks are a very close second.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone hoping to win an ELS award this year?
A: Take stock of what you have accomplished and the team with which you have surrounded yourself. If the results of your work have pushed the Pacific Northwest’s energy sector to the future the nomination should write itself.
Q: What have you accomplished in your career that you’re proud of since winning the award?
A: I am still at the Testbeds and we are still growing. I’m proud of both of those things in general, but I’m especially proud of the impact that the Testbeds have had globally with users coming from around the world to grow their companies in our lab and with new partnerships with organizations around the country. We’ve always had the goal of the Testbeds being a national hub for clean energy innovation and that is now becoming a reality.
Q: Do you have any final comments or thoughts you want to share?
A: I am not a Washington native and I was unknown to this community when I started at the Testbeds, but our energy sector has been incredibly inspiring for me during my time working in it. There are many reasons to worry about our future, but I see a real opportunity and path to a cleaner, better world through the institutions and individuals in this industry across the PNW.
For more information about the 2020 Energy Leadership Summit, click here.