Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is responsible for setting goals and strategies for the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council, arranging guest speakers and tours, and managing the SMCEC as an organization. The Executive Board meets on the 4th Friday of each month from 9:00 to 11:00 AM at the South Central Service Cooperative, 2075 Lookout Drive, North Mankato. The Executive Board welcomes members of the general public to attend these meetings and provide feedback on its activities.

Rich Huelskamp, Chair

Rich Huelskamp has more than 30 years of supporting, educating, and assisting home/business owners as well as Minnesota's energy industry professionals. He has coordinated engineering projects and educational programs throughout Minnesota. Rich earned his BS Degrees in Physics, Mathematics, and partially completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has developed curriculum and taught energy efficiency and renewable energy subjects at Riverland College, Winona State University, BioProducts and BioSystems Engineering Dept of the U. of Minnesota, and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College. Rich believes in the need of developing community plans to include the three legged stool of renewables - Biomass, Solar and Wind as well as the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency planning.

Bob Johnson, Vice Chair

Bob Johnson brings a background in geo-thermal energy transfer systems as well as civil and soil engineering experience. Bob served four years working in engineering with the U.S. Navy Seabees before continuing his education, earning a Business Management Degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Throughout his career, Bob has worn many hats including supervisor of the engineering department of the tenth largest Casino in the United States, working as a Sales Representative for a geo-thermal manufacturer and distributer, and work in the petroleum retail marketing field. Bob's interest and continuing education in energy conservation and renewable sources has continued to grow for over forty years. As an active volunteer, Bob has served his community for many years alongside organizations such as Boy Scouts, 4-H, and his local fire department. Bob's goal for serving the Task Force is to combine his passion for renewable energy and his love of public service by sharing his knowledge of renewables with the community.

Katy Wortel, Secretary

Katy Wortel runs a small-scale pumpkin farm on the east side of Mankato. Representing Mankato Area Environmentalists, she served as an intervener in two past Northern States Power company electric rate cases; earning intervener compensation both times. Katy also served on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) rules task forces for garbage incinerators and incinerator ash. Katy served as a Blue Earth County Commissioner from 2003 through 2008, and during that time established the Three Rivers Resource, Conservation & Development Council's Renewable Energy Task Force which became the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force (RETF). She served as the chair of the RETF for some time before now serving as Secretary.

Briana Baker

Briana Baker is the Southern Minnesota Organizer for Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and works to raise awareness for climate justice and clean energy through local community solar garden subscriptions. As our energy industry changes, Briana wants to ensure that the financial and health benefits of clean energy are accessible to people of all income levels and geographic regions. Previously, she was a weatherization carpenter for Minnesota Valley Action Council. Briana graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College and has since been involved with a variety of nonprofits, including the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board AmeriCorps.

Jim Dontje

Jim Dontje is the director of the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation at Gustavus Adolphus College where he helps guide campus sustainability and renewable energy efforts. His undergraduate degree from Luther was in physics, and his graduate work was at the University of Minnesota in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. James has direct experience with installing solar thermal projects and with doing renewable energy site assessments, and sees energy conservation and renewable energy as a key to the long term economic viability of the region.

James L. Gibson

After receiving his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, Jim spent much of his career as a teacher in secondary, postsecondary and university education with a principal focus on agriculture.

Later joining the Wisconsin Agribusiness Council, he partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Public Service Commission, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to create a training program for rural electricians.

He is a former member of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, where he was also Education Director for Agriculture, Natural Resources (and Renewable Energy) and a member of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. While with the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, he helped establish a renewable energy technician education program. Along the way, he became involved with Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and its workforce development program, garnering funding from the USDA and the National Science Foundation along the way. Later, he joined the faculty and administration at the University of Minnesota-Waseca.

In his so-called retirement, Jim spent five years as Executive Director of the Minnesota Agricultural Interpretive Center in Waseca, also known as Farmamerica, where he saw an opportunity to tie his interest in energy to the past, present and future of agriculture as embodied in the mission of that institution.

Leigh Pomeroy

Leigh Pomeroy joined the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force board upon its merger with the E2020 Energy Conservation Task Force, of which he was a member. He also currently serves on the board of the Mankato Area Environmentalists. He has taught film at Minnesota State University Mankato and has written on energy, environment, politics, health care and film. He has edited two books, "Dr. D's Handbook for Men Over 40" by Dr. Peter Dorsen and "Not What the Doctor Ordered" by Jeffrey C. Bauer. In 2004, he was the DFL (Democratic Party) Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District.

Lou Schwartzkopf

Louis Schwartzkopf is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Minnesota State Mankato, where he taught and did research for 28 years; he also served as department chair for six years. He has a bachelor's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, both in physics. Since retirement, as a part of a group in the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at Minnesota State Mankato, he has done data analysis for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to evaluate the performance of solar thermal walls in Minnesota; he has conducted a greenhouse gas inventory for the cities of Mankato and North Mankato; and he has been project lead of a team which has developed a climate action plan for Minnesota State Mankato. He believes in the necessity of moving on a local statewide as well as national level toward an economy based on renewable energy and sustainability.

Joe Sullivan

Joe Sullivan is the Manager of Strategic Relations for the Center for Energy and Environment. Joe works with policy makers, regulators, utilities, energy advocates, and other key stakeholders to advance energy efficiency and clean energy in Minnesota.

Prior to joining CEE, Joe worked as the Regional Policy Manager – West for Wind on the Wires (WOW). For WOW, Joe worked in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa to advance policies for wind power and transmission access. Joe also spent six and a half years representing a municipal power agency and greater Minnesota cities as a senior attorney at Flaherty & Hood P.A. in St. Paul, Minn. At Flaherty & Hood, Joe worked on renewable energy, transmission issues, state conservation goals, greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, net metering and Community-Based Energy Development issues. He’s also represented Minnesota cities on nuclear waste issues and an electric rate case. Additionally, Joe has worked extensively with coalitions, particularly the Coalition of Utility Cities, on utility taxation issues. Prior to joining Flaherty & Hood, Joe worked in Washington, DC at the U.S. House Committee on Science and at the Internal Revenue Service. He holds degrees from Marquette University and University of Wisconsin Law School.