As Senior Director of Energy Markets and Sustainability at Edison Energy, Emily Williams helps Fortune 500 companies plan and achieve their sustainability goals using renewable energy. Emily spoke about her start in the clean energy industry, why she loves empowering organizations to embrace renewables, and what she’s reading at the moment.
What inspired your career in the industry?
I studied engineering and political science as an undergrad and completed my master’s degree on the intersection of science and policy. After a stint working on nuclear non-proliferation, I got a job at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) where I was introduced to the renewable energy space. Once I realized how innovative this sector is—and how important it is to driving down energy costs and combating climate change—I was hooked. I saw corporate demand for renewable energy as a growing demand driver and joined a start-up in Boston that was focused on connecting commercial, industrial and institutional (C&I) buyers with renewable energy projects.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I get to work with some of the largest companies in the world and help them fulfill their sustainability and energy goals using renewables. It’s a fascinating look into these companies’ operations, and I love helping to design strategies to help them minimize risk. When they start their journey, they know very little about power markets, energy risk, or contracting. In the end, they emerge as experts who can describe the process and benefits with others. I’m very proud of the thousands of MW of wind and solar projects that have been constructed and financed because of our clients.
You’ve won several awards, including the WRISE (Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy) Rising Star Award as well as Renewable Energy World’s Solar 40 Under 40 Award. What do you think awards programs mean for the industry and for individuals?
There are so many incredible individuals and companies working to solve tough challenges. Award programs like The Cleanie Awards are a small way to give them recognition and motivation. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to nominate someone.
What are you reading right now?
I recommend to everyone I know to read Paul Hawken’s Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. I’m also very excited to start reading Russell Gold’s book about Michael Skelly, Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy, when it is released this month.