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Newtown Native Earns National Clean Energy Award



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Kate Anderson grew up in Newtown from 1978 to 2000 and recently received the national clean energy award from the United States Clean Energy, Education, and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative.

Anderson explained, “C3E is led by the US Department of Energy, in collaboration with Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, the MIT Energy Initiative, and the Texas A&M Energy Institute.”

“The US C3E Awards recognize mid-career women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishments in clean energy,” she added.

Anderson’s journey to this achievement all began when she set her sights on space.

“In high school, I wanted to be an astronaut, so I went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study aerospace engineering and then started my career as an officer in the Air Force, launching satellites. While I was stationed at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, I became really interested in green building,” Anderson said.

She was inspired to pursue a new career path after discovering New Mexico’s unique style of housing that caught her attention.

Anderson detailed, “New Mexico has a long tradition of sustainable building from adobe and straw bale to earthships, made out of tires and designed to collect their own water and grow their own food. That sparked a new passion, and I decided to change course and pursue a masters in renewable energy.”

Gaining that degree helped her transition to working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“For the past 13 years, I’ve been at NREL, providing analysis to help guide our partners on the best paths to achieve their clean energy goals,” Anderson said. “I led a team that developed the Renewable Energy Integration and Optimization (REopt) software, which shows users the best options to cost effectively save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and maintain power during grid outages.”

She continued, “It started as a spreadsheet tool used only inside NREL, and over the years we developed it into a free, public web-based tool. Today, it has over 40,000 users around the world and is used to guide deployment of clean energy sources and storage devices for a building or campus.”

Receiving The Honor

Upon learning that she had won the national clean energy award, Anderson was thrilled, especially having come so close to the accolade in previous years.

Anderson shared, “I had been nominated for this award before, but the field is always competitive, and I’d never made it to the final round. There are so many amazing women out there doing incredible things in support of clean energy. I am really honored to be selected for this award, and I hope I can pass it on by helping to bring up the next generation of clean energy champions.”

She continued, “I’m especially grateful to be recognized at this year’s C3E symposium that focuses on justice and equity. To reach a clean energy future for all, we need everyone to be able to participate in and benefit from a clean, affordable, resilient energy system. I think this year’s symposium really highlights the importance of justice in the energy transition.”

Anderson attended the virtual two-day symposium where she was presented her award on November 4.

“Eight C3E Award winners were recognized, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree,” she explained. “There were also panels featuring thought leaders discussing the latest advances in the energy transition, this year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), what lessons the United States can learn from other countries, and what U.S. successes are replicable in other countries, especially those with developing economies.”

Anderson continues to find inspiration and joy in her career path, which she hopes others will consider joining as well.

“I think this is one of the most fulfilling careers you can choose. At NREL, we are all here driven by a common passion and a common mission to save the world. I get to be inspired every day by all the smart people working together in ways large and small to fight climate change,” Anderson said. “There are so many skills and types of people that are important in the clean energy transition, and we need all of them to reach our national goals of achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035, and a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.”

To learn more about Kate Anderson, visit c3e.org/kate-anderson.


Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Former Newtown resident Kate Anderson recently received the National Clean Energy Award by the United States Clean Energy, Education, and Empowerment Initiative. —photo courtesy Kate Anderson
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