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GEM’s Gems October 2014 – Daniel Howlett

October 21, 2014

The GEM alumnus who we are featuring this month is Daniel Howlett. Howlett is a Wholesale Power Marketing Assistant Manager at Energy Keepers, Inc., an independent power producer in Montana.

Daniel Howlett

Daniel Howlett

Howlett, 33, was a member of Cohort III and says that completing the GEM Program opened up many doors.

“For me, the opportunity to pursue a career in the energy industry made complete sense,” he said. “At the time I was applying for the GEM program, I was still finishing my Bachelor’s at CU Denver in Business Administration. I was pleasantly surprised when the CU Business School announced the new GEM program, which was exactly what I was looking for.”

After completing the GEM program, he was accepted into a federal position as a detail at Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), one of the largest power marketing entities in the U.S.  “This unique experience was made possible by my strong background in energy and tenacity to finish my graduate studies,” Howlett added.

Howlett was then promoted into his current position at Energy Keepers and said that GEM played a crucial role in preparing him to give executive level presentations, focusing on the important details and having the confidence to make recommendations alongside company decision makers.

“Going through the GEM program also gave me a competitive advantage over many in the power industry because there is a paradigm shift occurring, where power is becoming increasingly reliant on the natural gas industry,” he said. “GEM gave me a strong foundation in all facets of energy, but specifically, the exposure to natural gas fundamentals now allows me to anticipate and understand how my business may be affected in the coming years.  In the Northwest, natural gas is the marginal fuel source and basically sets the price for power.”

Howlett and his wife Marta were recently married in February 2013. They had a small and intimate wedding on a beach in Maui and would like to have children sometime in the future.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities

I currently work for Energy Keepers, Inc. (EKI), an independent power producer in Montana.  EKI is a federally chartered Corporation, with the sole shareholder being the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).  EKI was formed to operate Kerr Dam and market the output from the project.  Kerr is a 194 MW hydroelectric project that was built in the 1930’s on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  Since 1985, CSKT has been co-licensee on the FERC License and has the unilateral right to buy the dam in September 2015.  CSKT will exercise that option and will be the first Tribe in the United States to own and operate a large hydro dam.  As an enrolled member of this Tribe, I take great pride in my work to acquire this project and ensure a steady revenue stream will flow back to our Tribal Government.

At EKI, I’m responsible for developing power marketing and hedging strategies to ensure power from our hydroelectric dam is sold into the wholesale marketplace, finding the right balance of long-term hedges and short-term transactions.  I am in process of helping develop models for in-house deal and hedge evaluation, which are risk tools designed to ensure we meet our revenue requirements.  I’m also responsible for contracts and getting our corporation ready to transact in the market.  There are several markets that EKI can send physical power to and part of my job is to understand the market fundamentals, assessing basis and arbitrage opportunities, deciding where it makes the most economic sense to transact.  I have also been tasked with building a revenue model, which allows EKI to project the expected revenues over the next five years.  Since April, I’ve managed a contractual relationship with TEA Solutions Inc. (TSI), an organization based in Bellevue, WA that will trade and schedule the power from Kerr in the real-time environment.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
The energy industry, in my opinion, is the most dynamic and scrutinized industry out there.  We are in a very pivotal time, where public policy and technology changes will shape the industry for decades to come.  Those of us fortunate enough to be in power industry, have obligations to solve complex problems such as emission reductions, renewable integration, modernizing the grid and even storing electricity, all while continuing to provide reliable and affordable energy to the American people.  The decisions we make today will have great impacts on future generations, so I feel very lucky to be part of this process.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?
I was part of Cohort III, which graduated in June of 2011.  I was living in Denver at the time, so it was always great to bring other classmates to my favorite spots in Denver.  The city has such a good mix of restaurants, microbreweries, sports teams and sunny days so enjoying the weekend was never a problem.  It may be cliché, but it seemed like there was always something to do in the city after a long day of lectures.

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?
Bringing a rested mind and body is very important.  These are long days and you want to be fully engaged during the in-person sessions.

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.
I wish I had something brilliant to say, but I’m no good at storytelling.   I will say though, GEM is a very special time and creating lifelong professional relationships with your fellow classmates is priceless.  You’ll be very surprised how fast it goes too.  Don’t forget to engage with everyone as much as possible.  Also, don’t be afraid to take people outside their comfort zones.  I learned so much more when people pushed me outside of mine.

Discussing Energy and Climate Change

October 7, 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to attend most of both days of the 2014 Natural Gas Symposium, hosted by the CSU Center for the New Energy Economy. In case you’re not familiar, CNEE is the center at CSU led by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter – they do a lot of excellent work in the policy area, largely helping states understand and craft energy policy and regulation. They also put on a very good – and free – conference once a year. It’s well worth the time it takes to go.

One of the panels at this past conference focused on the interaction between the oil & gas industry and the citizens and communities of Colorado. Amid the relatively predictable elements of that exchange – dangers of fracking, well setbacks, methane release, and the like – there was one element in particular that got my attention, that I would like to follow up here.

That is the issue of climate change. The reason this issue stood out for me in last week’s conference is not so much that energy production and use is a major factor in climate change – we all know that. It was that the topic of climate change was presented as a show-stopper in the sense that bringing up the issue in the context of a discussion between the industry and communities is inherently nonproductive because it derails the process of building consensus on the practical, local issues like those I’ve listed above. As a result, it was postulated that we shouldn’t allow climate change into the discussion because no basis exists to talk about it.

Now, to be clear, I don’t totally disagree with that assertion. I do think that in many cases, organizations and individuals whose main (or even only) priority is climate change will disingenuously exploit more immediate community concerns (like setbacks, water, noise, etc.) to oppose oil & gas development, in service to a more long-term goal of shutting down fossil fuels altogether. I also think that climate change is a global issue that is not directly relevant to, or affected by, the specific issues that energy companies and communities typically need to resolve in order reach positive and productive agreements to develop critical oil & gas resources. (Hopefully, you will see GEM working productively in this very area over the next few months.)

Where I disagree is with the concept that there is no productive way to discuss climate change in the context of energy, at least at the global (if not the local) level. I think there is a way to have this discussion productively. It begins with a few areas where I think that there is broad consensus on all sides of the issue. I think the consensus is this:

  • All human productivity depends upon energy, in some amount, and in some form.
  • All energy production and use has some effect on our shared environment.
  • Our current global pattern of energy production and use is not sustainable forever.
  • Present energy technology is a “snapshot” of a moment in time that must be viewed in the context of steady, long-term technological evolution on both the demand and the supply side. There is probably no true “end state” for energy, as technology will continue to evolve.
  • At some point in the future, we must (and will) have greatly more sustainable energy systems, though we do not know with certainty now exactly what these systems will look like.
  • Between the energy present and the energy future, natural gas will play a significant role as a bridge fuel.

While there is probably somebody somewhere who will be the exception, I think that broadly speaking, any responsible member of either the energy or the environmental community (or both – they don’t have to be mutually exclusive) will generally agree with all of these statements.
In fact, if you analyze the statements, there is only really one that contains any significant uncertainty. This is the fifth bullet, with two major uncertainties:

  • What does real sustainability look like in terms of energy technology (solar, wind, nuclear, carbon capture, efficiency, new technology as yet unimagined, etc).
  • How long is the time frame for getting from Point A to Point B?

I think the first of these is a fun topic for discussion – in a lot of ways, it’s why we’re all in GEM – but it’s not really crucial to the issue of climate change. The reason I say this is that it presupposes a sustainable energy technology at some point in time, whatever it actually looks like in detail.

That leaves the time frame which, to my mind, is the only really serious discussion point. If we all agree that we have to reach a point of sustainability and that none of us can possibly know what the “final” energy mix looks like, then the only point of disagreement left is how long we can take to get there.

So I put to all of you that the way to discuss the issue of energy and climate change productively with all sides is to focus the discussion on time – are we looking at 10 years? 50? 100? Timing issues affect technology, infrastructure, investment, and the ultimate pace of climate change; a 10-year time frame is radically different from a 100-year time frame in every way, and I fully expect that there is passionate, even vehement, disagreement on this – but this is the right place for disagreement.

Framing the issue of energy and climate in terms of oil villains or environmental socialists does nobody any good and moves precisely zero distance toward actually addressing it. Setting it as a timing question, though, might actually get somewhere.

Here’s my question for all of you, and I hope it will generate some discussion on the LinkedIn site. What is the time frame for achieving energy sustainability? Why? What’s the technological, financial, and environmental balancing point?

What do you think?

GEM’s Gems October 2014 – Mathew Jorden

September 19, 2014
This photo of Mathew Jorden was taken during the AAPG/MGS conference in Myanmar.

This photo of Mathew Jorden was taken during the AAPG/MGS conference in Myanmar.

This month, we are highlighting alumnus Mathew Jorden who recently presented at the inaugural conference of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) held in Myanmar. His presentation, titled “Utilizing Potential Field in the Gulf of Martaban,” focused on using public domain magnetic and gravity data to image structural features and faulting that are linked to offshore gas production.

“The audience consisted mostly of Australian and East Asian professionals, with very few Americans in attendance,” said Jorden, who was a member of the GEM Program’s Cohort IX.  “The presentation was well received, and we were able to highlight some previously unknown potential plays in the Moattama Basin.”

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar, is emerging back onto the international commodities scene after decades of isolation and sanctions. The conference was hosted jointly by the AAPG & the Myanmar Geosciences Society (MGS) and took place in Yangon, a former capitol. A variety of companies were present, each focused on oil & gas production, exploration, or services.

Jorden, 30, who is a Geoscientist at NEOS Geosolutions, said he had been reading about energy opportunities in Myanmar for about a year prior to the conference.

“My company wasn’t interested in pursuing the opportunities in Myanmar, so I kept my interests on the back burner,” he said. “While on a GEM cohort weekend, GEM Professor Herb Rubenstein encouraged me to send an abstract in to the conference and to be a bit bolder in pursuit of individual career goals. At his prompting, I wrote an abstract and submitted it on a hope and a prayer. And the next thing I knew, I was buying a plane ticket and requesting PTO to attend a conference in Myanmar.

“Overall, it was a great experience, and I couldn’t have done it without the knowledge I gained from the GEM Program and the support and encouragement of the GEM professors.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.
I work with geophysical, geologic and geochemical datasets at NEOS, primarily acquired from fixed wing platforms. I help design surveys, monitor acquisition efforts (occasionally getting in a small survey plane), process data and assist our senior interpretation staff as they make sense of the data. Our ultimate product is an integrated interpretive study identifying prospectivity of hydrocarbon basins that gives previously unknown insight into the regional geology of an area. The majority of my work at NEOS has been focused on the Neuquen Basin of Argentina and its Vaca Muerta shale play.
What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
To be perfectly honest, I entered the energy industry at age 19 because I wanted to travel and the salary was tempting. My interests have evolved, and now I enjoy working in such a dynamic and technical field. Energy is a rapidly changing and evolving industry, and I really enjoy being a part of that. It is A very interesting time to be in the industry, as so much is changing so rapidly. Seeing things like the growth in energy demand in the developing world and the various success rates of deploying new, low carbon technologies in the developed world is very exciting and rewarding for me.
How has the GEM program benefited you?
The GEM Program helped build my public speaking skills. Before GEM, I had little confidence in my ability to present conclusions or work, but through 18 months of constant presentations, group and individual, I really gained some skill sets that have improved my public speaking (and recently helped me in Myanmar!). The constant workload also helped me become better at managing projects and multitasking. All those late nights and coordinating across time zones has really helped me in my work, where I am often tasked with multiple projects that need to be coordinated across multiple time zones.
What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?
I was in Cohort IX, and my favorite part of the cohort weekends was the networking and socializing. Although the online portion of the GEM program was very valuable, I always enjoyed the personal interactions with fellow students the most. The GEM program attracts a diverse set of energy industry professionals, and I would highly encourage any new or current students to take advantage of the network they will build in GEM.
What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?
This may not be relevant in the iPad era, but I always made sure to bring copious amounts of pens and notepads. I find that taking prodigious notes really helped when we were working on projects after the cohort weekend, especially for the science and finance based coursework. For me personally, hand written notes tend to help me process information so I always brought pen and paper.
Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.
 So I won’t name names here, but early on in the program I was working with a group struggling to finish our presentation. We had a series of mishaps while trying to record the presentation, everything from technical challenges to cell phones. On our third try to record our presentation, 19 minutes into the 20 minute video, one of my classmates stumbled over her own words and got flustered. She paused the video to compose herself, and said several words I won’t repeat here. When she was done with her outburst, we noticed that the recording had not stopped and that our presentation consisted of 19 minutes of content and a minute ofother colorful words. We had a good laugh about it and then went to record for the fourth time. I think most GEM students and alumni can relate to the frustrations of multiple recordings, trying to get your presentation just right.
Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?
I was attracted to the GEM program by its energy industry focus (rather than a traditional MBA) combined with the flexibility of the program. When I entered the program I was traveling internationally for work, and needed a program that would give me the ability to travel whenever I needed to. I was able to complete coursework from Argentina, Mexico and Tanzania – so I think the GEM program was a great choice.
Another motivating factor was the association GEM has with some of the prominent industry leaders around town. Knowing that organizations like Encana, Xcel Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory  are on the advisory committee let me know that GEM was going to give me the skills I needed to succeed in the energy industry.
Is there anything else new in your life that you would like to add?
I have been working with several GEM students under the guidance and mentorship of GEM Professor Jack Mason with an eye towards starting a business. We have laid some groundwork and were able to write both a business plan and a strategic plan for deploying our business through GEM coursework (and received some very valuable feedback from our professors!). I have had several initial talks with potentially interested investors, and will be attending the NREL Industry Growth Forum in hopes of moving forward with a potential business opportunity.

14 GEM students to take part in GEM’s London course

September 18, 2014
This photo was taken during the 2012 Special Topics course in London.

This photo was taken during the 2012 Special Topics course in London.

A group of students will take part in the Global Energy Management Program’s Special Topics course in London this week. They will tour energy company facilities and meet domestic & international leaders from the industry’s private, non-profit, and municipal sectors. They will have an opportunity for networking while experiencing British culture and visiting notable sightseeing attractions.

The course has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from students in the past.

“It was an invaluable experience, which provided a global perspective that can only be realized through interviewing players outside of the United States,” GEM alumnus Jonathan Wente has said after returning from a previous trip. “This course opened my eyes with regards to the macro energy environment and shed some light on how the rest of the world is solving energy problems.”

The GEM group will receive briefings from: the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Renewable Energy Foundation, Shell, BP, Oxford Alanytica, Valero, Anadarko, International Energy Agency — Clean Coal Center, and Valero Refining Company.

GEM Scholarship Golf Tournament raises funds

September 18, 2014
GEM golf 2014

Pictured above from the left are GEM students from Cohort X: Bryan Santi, Chris Guyer, Heath Lovell, and Cr Salinas.

Eight teams competed this July in the annual GEM Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Colorado National Golf Course.

GEM alumnus Chris Hollmann, Cohort IV, and his team from Pioneer Energy won the competition with a combined score of 62. GEM student Chris Guyer, Cohort X, won the “longest drive” challenge.

In addition, Brian Bengston won a weekend stay at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chris Hollmann, Cohort IV, won an overnight stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites, and GEM alumnus Joel Poppert, Cohort VII, won a free hotel stay at The Curtis.

This annual, friendly tourney consists of four-person scramble teams and is a great opportunity to show off your golf skills while raising money for future GEM students. All proceeds benefit the GEM Scholarship Fund.

GEM Program to offer MOOC course next month

September 18, 2014

The Global Energy Management Program is proud to announce that it will run its massive, open, online course (MOOC) titled Fundamentals of Global Energy Business once again on Oct. 20. GEM Instructor Dr. Michael Orlando teaches the course and
provides students with an introduction to the business of primary energy production.

“I learn something new with every course I teach,” Orlando said. “The first session was my first offering in this massive online format. I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of engagement through our course discussion forums. In this session, I’ll be focusing even more time on coaching student interaction, in discussion forums and through the peer-reviewed writing assignments.”

Orlando’s course examines the nature of supply & demand in global energy markets and business considerations for participants in those markets. “This is a great opportunity for us if we come anywhere near the 30,000 enrollment we had last time,” said GEM Executive Director Jim Marchiori. “It helps us in our broader mission to provide publicly accessible education on energy issues, and it’s an excellent recruiting aid because it gives interested prospective students a firsthand glimpse of what we do.”

The course consists of weekly lecture videos, quizzes, case studies, and discussion group participation. Coursera is a learning platform that
partners with top universities to offer free online courses globally.

If you are interested in signing up, please register for a free account at, and then go to and add this class to your “watchlist.”

Global Energy Management Program welcomes new members to GEM AC

September 16, 2014

The Global Energy Management Program is proud to welcome six new members to its Advisory Council at the next AC GEM ACmeeting in November, and one new member to the GEM Development Committee in September.

“I’m very excited about the new direction our Advisory Committee will be taking,” said GEM Executive Director Jim Marchiori. “We’ve kept some of our long-standing members and we’re adding some very dynamic new members who represent some of the most important organizations in the energy industry. We want very much to step up to more of a leadership role in the industry, and the AC and the Development Committee are critical to that. I think this new group will do some very important things over the next few months and years.”

New AC members include: Maura Horn, Vice President of Global Talent Development at MWH Global; Bob Laing, Rockies Area Director at Baker Hughes; Sarah Landry, Director of Operations at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association; Tamara Bray, Vice President of Human Resources at DCP Midstream; Michael Farina, Global Strategy and Analytics Leader at General Electric; and Marcela de la Mar, Political, Cultural, and Education Affairs Consul at the Consulado General de México. In addition, Katie Hallen, of JP Morgan Private Bank, is joining the Development Committee beginning with next week’s meeting.

Several more important invitations are pending, and GEM is looking forward to welcoming these new members.


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