Inside USD

EPIC Runs on Anders’ Passion for Energy

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Scott Anders drives a fuel-efficient car, consciously lives in an energy-friendly home equipped with solar panels and, since October 2005, has been at the helm of important academic and research work done by the nonprofit Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) in the University of San Diego’s School of Law.

“I’m an energy geek, admittedly,” he stated. “When I see stuff, I see energy and I see carbon. Everything we have and do basically has embedded energy in it.”

So it’s no surprise that Anders can weigh in on the inaugural USD One Challenge, a campus-wide awareness and solution-oriented community project focused this spring on issues concerning the environment, specifically wasteful production and consumption.

“I think it’s a really good topic, because I think consumption is an area that’s often overlooked,” Anders said. “For example, if you have a piece of trash, say an old toaster, it has a lot of metal and plastic, but it also took energy to make it. It took energy to manufacture it and petroleum, plastic, metal, everything. We’re a consumptive society. We rely on and require stuff and the service of stuff, but for me, recycling and reuse is an energy issue as well as it is a material issue.”

Anders’ passion for all things energy, he said, began with a middle school science fair project involving a solar water heater, a long-standing interest in bird-watching and his college education, which includes a master’s degree in public policy with an environmental policy concentration at the University of Maryland.

He spent some time as a policy researcher for a Washington, D.C. think tank, the Center for a Sustainable Economy, before coming to the West Coast as director for policy and planning at the California Center for Sustainable Energy where his many duties ultimately prepared him to found EPIC and shape its focus.

The 43-year-old’s passion has been shown in his work at EPIC on regulatory and policy issues that develop efficient and low-carbon energy sources. Among EPIC’s successes are conducting the first-ever greenhouse gas inventory for San Diego County; policy research comparing the San Diego region and others with emerging clean technology clusters; and a feasibility study of implementing smart grid strategies and technologies in local regions.

“We do research and analysis that informs policy makers,” said Anders, who has authored or co-authored numerous papers and reports on energy policy. “We try to be objective, be a neutral party and present information that’s useful. We’re not lobbyists, but we’ve found there’s a need for what EPIC does.”

The center, created initially through monies USD received from a power plant lawsuit settlement, has a staff that consists of Anders; Nilmini Silva-Send (pictured, top right, with Anders), a senior policy analyst, adjunct professor and C. Hugh Friedman Fellow in Energy Law and Policy; and Clark Gordon, a first-year USD law student who is a paid energy policy analyst. EPIC provides current USD law students with hands-on policy research and writing experience through the center’s academic courses and clinic. EPIC has an advisory board and an interdisciplinary list of USD faculty members who bring their expertise to specific projects. All told, EPIC has earned its reputation as a reliable resource for energy issues and other sustainability projects.

“EPIC’s work on and for energy policy in the region is unique, innovative and cutting edge,” Silva-Send said. “We’ve maintained a neutral stance in the work we’ve done and, as a result, we have a respected position amongst stakeholders, and can be a powerful voice in the community. Whether through our projects on rate making, or climate change planning or teaching, we constantly strive to meet our mission to educate the public and public officials on energy issues.”

This fiscal year, for instance, EPIC has accumulated $900,000 in grants from The San Diego Foundation, San Diego Gas & Electric, California Center for Sustainable Energy, and the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista. Part of that amount comes from a multi-million dollar Climate Education Partners project that received its second round of funding late last year through the National Science Foundation (NSF). Anders and Silva-Send are co-principal investigators on the project that’s led by Michel Boudrias, an associated professor for USD’s Marine Science and Environmental Studies.

“EPIC brings a policy voice to the table, which is something you don’t often have,” Anders said of the NSF project that has an interdisciplinary leadership approach.

At USD, EPIC hosts an annual Climate and Energy Law Symposium, which brings leading national legal and policy experts to campus to discuss new developments in energy solutions. Anders has been a trusted voice for USD’s sustainability committee, bringing his perspective to campus projects such as the Student Life Pavilion building, solar energy and more.

“Scott is well respected by everyone in the sustainability community,” said Michael Catanzaro, USD’s director of sustainability. “He really knows his stuff. If I have a question about something or I just want an opinion, Scott’s the first person I’d ask.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photo of Scott Anders (homepage) courtesy of Alan Decker.

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