February 01, 2023

Northwest Energy Opportunities: Transportation Electrification, Markets, and Career Paths for New Lawyers

Northwest Energy Opportunities: Transportation Electrification, Markets, and Career Paths for New Lawyers on September 15, 2023.


Caroline Cilek ModeratorCaroline Cilek is a staff attorney with the Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, earning a certificate in Energy, Innovations, and Sustainability Law. During law school, she served as a law clerk for Avangrid Renewables’ Office of General Counsel and the Oregon Department of Justice in the Special Litigation Unit. For her law school writing requirement, Caroline examined transportation electrification in Oregon with a focus on bidirectional charging opportunities. Prior to law school, Caroline enjoyed over seven years as a land use planner for Collier County, Florida. She has a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Professor Lisa Benjamin

Panelist: Dr. Lisa Benjamin is an Associate Professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland Oregon. She completed her PhD at the University of Leicester in 2017, and received the Doctoral Honors Award in 2018. In 2018, Lisa was a Global Leaders Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, and was a visiting assistant professor at Penn State Law School, where she taught Business Associations and Energy Law. In 2019, she was a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. In 2021 she won the Huffman Award for outstanding faculty scholarship, in 2022 she won the Leo Levenson Award for excellence in teaching, and was also awarded the 2022-2023 Pace Haub Environmental Law Distinguished Junior Scholar Award.

Her research focuses on climate justice and climate risk, and how these issues intersect with energy law and administrative law. She has written a book and several articles and book chapters on non-state actors and climate risk, as well as energy and climate justice in developing countries, including small island developing states. She was the legal advisor to The Bahamas during the UNFCCC Paris Agreement negotiations.

Lisa is the Vice Chair of the UNFCCC Compliance Committee (Facilitative Branch), a director of Verde PDX (an environmental justice NGO), co-Chair of the Climate Accountability working group of the Climate Social Science Network, and a member of the Expert Peer Review Group in the Race to Zero campaign (a UN-backed global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery). She has been quoted in Bloomberg Law, The Financial Times, and made appearances on Velshi on MSNBC, and the BBC World Service. She recently published a paper entitled EVs as EJ? discussing the significant climate and environmental justice benefits for some communities of color, and negative impacts for others.

Mike Goetz Panelist: As CUB’s General Counsel, Mike Goetz is responsible for analyzing all legal issues that arise in the regulatory and organizational arenas, and works closely with CUB’s regulatory staff in doing so. In his practice, Mike works on energy and telecommunications law and policy on behalf of residential Oregonians in proceedings before the Oregon Public Utility Commission, state, and federal courts.

Mike attended the University Of Oregon School Of Law, graduating with a JD and a certificate of completion in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Prior to joining CUB, he completed an Energy Law & Policy Fellowship through the University of Oregon, worked as a law clerk and attorney at several public interest nonprofit organizations, and as a contract attorney for a Portland-based environmental attorney. He is a member of the Oregon State Bar, and serves on the executive committee of the OSB’s Energy, Telecom, and Utilities Section. In addition, Mike serves on the Board of Directors of Renewable Northwest.

Laura James Panelist: Laura James is a Senior Project Manager in Customer Program Planning at PacifiCorp, an electric utility operating in six western states. Laura has over a decade of experience in the design and evaluation of utility-led programs to encourage increased adoption of clean energy technology. At PacifiCorp, Laura leads market research, forecasting and analysis to inform PacifiCorp’s portfolio of demand-side management programs. Recently, Laura participated in the development of PacifiCorp’s first Oregon Transportation Electrification Plan. The Plan describes how PacifiCorp intends to invest over $30 million over the next three years to make the transition to electric transportation more equitable and affordable for customers. Laura has an MS in Resource Economics from Michigan State University, and is proud to be a third-generation Oregonian. 

Natalie Rogers Panelist: Natalie Rogers (she/her) is the Climate and Natural Resources Manager for the City of Milwaukie. Natalie leads the Public Works Natural Resources division in implementing the city’s adopted Climate Action Plan, including city-led building energy and transportation electrification initiatives, as well as environmental regulatory and outreach programs. Natalie has a Professional Science Masters in Environmental Management from Portland State University and a background in environmental research and sustainability education.


Eva DeCesaro Panelist: Eva DeCesaro is a Senior Product Portfolio Specialist on Portland General Electric’s Transportation Electrification Team, where she plans strategic development of innovative transportation electrification programs across Oregon. To pave the way for more electric vehicles on the road she focuses on equitable deployment of infrastructure. She also administers PGE’s Oregon Clean Fuels Program portfolio, which funds community-driven electric transportation projects.



Melissa Powers Moderator: Melissa Powers is a Jeffrey Bain Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. In 2014-2015, Melissa was a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar researching Denmark and Spain’s renewable energy laws. Melissa is also the founder and faculty director of the Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School, an organization that designs policies to transition to a zero-carbon energy system.

Melissa teaches climate change law, electricity regulation, renewable energy law, the Clean Air Act, administrative law, and torts. She received the Leo Levenson Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. Melissa has taught several times as a visiting professor at the University of Trento, Italy. She has also visited at the University of Bologna, Italy; Kangwon National University, Republic of Korea; University of Navarra, Spain; and the University of Maine. She conducted her Fulbright-Schuman research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Catalonia.

Melissa’s research focuses on energy reform, climate change mitigation, and pollution control. She is a co-author of the books Climate Change and the Law and Principles of Environmental Law, and several articles and book chapters focused on climate and energy law.

Mary Wiencke Panelist: Mary Wiencke is the Executive Director of the Public Generating Pool. Mary joined PGP in 2022. Prior to joining PGP, Mary was the Vice President of Market, Regulation, and Transmission Policy for PacifiCorp where she developed and provided strategic direction on PacifiCorp’s environmental, transmission and market policies. Ms. Wiencke held various roles at PacifiCorp including Senior Attorney and Director, Environmental Policy at PacifiCorp. Ms. Wiencke is a graduate of Barnard College and Lewis & Clark Law School.

Pam Sporborg Panelist: Pam Sporborg is the director of transmission and markets for Portland General Electric. Pam oversees PGE’s advocacy work on wholesale markets, transmission and interconnection rates and policy, market analytics, and operations technical training. Pam is an experienced regional leader, repressing investor-owned utilities on the CAISO’s Governance Review Committee. She has previously served as the Chair of the EIM Nominating Committee and the Chair of the EIM Regional Issues Forum. In her eight years at PGE, she has held positions in the Transmission Services, Power Operations, and FERC Compliance departments.

Matthew Hayes Panelist: Matt Hayes is the Stakeholder Engagement Lead for Bonneville Power’s Market Initiatives. He is responsible for leading BPA’s public process for determining a policy direction on day ahead markets, and for managing BPA’s relationship with customers and constituents regarding market initiatives. Matt has been with BPA for over 13 years and has experience in many areas of the agency, including Energy Efficiency, Corporate Strategy, Power Marketing, NERC Compliance, and Generation Asset Management.



Sidney Villaneuva Moderator: Sidney Villanueva is a principal at Blue Skies Law. She concentrates her


Jason Jones Panelist: Jason Jones is the Assistant Attorney-In-Charge of the Business Activity Section at the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), where he represents the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) Commissioners and manages the work of a team of five DOJ attorneys assigned to the PUC Staff. Prior to this role which he has held for more than 8 years, Mr. Jones was a DOJ attorney assigned to represent PUC Staff for almost 15 years. During law school, Mr. Jones completed an internship at the United States Department of Justice which started his desire to work in government for the public interest. Mr. Jones obtained his law degree from the University of Oklahoma but moved home to his native Oregon right after graduation.

Silvia Tanner Panelist: Silvia Tanner is a Senior Energy Policy and Legal Analyst at Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability where she advocates on issues related to clean energy and energy justice. She leads Multnomah County’s advocacy for rules, regulations, and utility practices that lift, rather than penalize vulnerable populations. She also leads the County’s efforts to meet its community-wide renewable energy goals. Silvia has worked on energy issues for nearly a decade. She holds a JD from Lewis & Clark Law school and a BA in Economics from Portland State University. Silvia serves on the board of the Oregon Women Lawyers, the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association, the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Board of Directors, and the Black and Brown Parents Advisory Council at her son’s school. Silvia is happiest when dancing, being with her family, cooking, and running.

Sarah Kutil Panelist: Sarah Kutil graduated from Lewis and Clark in 2011. She began her legal career during law school clerking for a small construction litigation firm and moved to a larger construction litigation firm as an attorney. In 2016, she made the move to the transmission section of the Office of General Counsel at the Bonneville Power Administration. In 2022, she was promoted to Assistant General Counsel representing the Transmission Services arm of BPA.

Merissa Moeller Panelist: Merissa Moeller is a natural resources attorney at Stoel Rives LLP. She advises clients in the energy sector on the use and development of water and land. Merissa brings a decade of experience, during which time she has represented individual landowners and developers, businesses and local governments, state natural resources agencies, an interstate land use planning commission, and the courts. With that broad policy perspective, Merissa is a strategic problem solver who helps her energy clients tackle complex regulatory issues from multiple angles.

Merissa helps renewable energy developers secure and defend land use permits before local governments, the Land Use Board of Appeals, and Oregon’s appellate courts. She has particular experience working with renewable energy companies to site projects on agricultural and forest land protected for its natural resource values. Merissa also advises clients on water resource development, water rights, water quality, and fish and wildlife laws, enabling her to approach complex energy permitting challenges strategically and holistically.

Merissa regularly writes and presents on natural resource permitting issues impacting the energy sector. She is a member of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) and Oregon Solar + Storage Industries Association (OSSIA), and she has been selected to Best Lawyers®: Ones to Watch in America (Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law) since 2021. Merissa is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, where she earned a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law.