15th Annual Kern County Energy Summit

November 10, 2021

Time: 7:30AM-12:00PM *Registration begins at 7:00am

Location: Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. 801 Truxtun Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301




Lorelei H. Oviatt

Lorelei H. Oviatt

Director, Kern County Planning and Natural Resources

Lorelei Oviatt, AICP, is Director for the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department in California and has worked in both the public and private sector of land development.   Her years of professional planning experience in the public and private sectors focuses on project management of large scale, multiagency planning, moving extremely complex projects through the system under accelerated timeframes to streamline business permitting and support quality of life for communities.  Her work on natural resources land use for renewable energy, mining, alternative fuels and oil and gas production as well as streamlining industrial and housing projects has made Kern County a center for business development in the U.S, while ensuring environmental protections for communities and certainty for investors.

Gary Aguinaga

Gary Aguinaga

President, True North Renewable Energy (TNRE)

Gary has overall responsibility for TNRE.  Responsibilities include team oversight and development, strategic orientation, project development, corporate development, client relations and staff management.   

Prior to joining TRNE, Gary spent 4 years with Harvest Power and Harvest Energy and had operational responsibility for Harvest’s Energy facility in Orlando, FL, and for its organics recycling facilities in California. Prior to that Gary spent 25 years with Wheelabrator Technologies, a subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc. Gary held several field positions at Wheelabrator, including Maintenance Manager, EH&S Director, Construction/Commissioning Manager, Operations Manager and Plant Manager, before assuming corporate leadership responsibilities.     

As VP of International Operations, Wheelabrator Technologies, based in London, Gary was directly responsible for international activities, including developing, designing, building and operating renewable energy facilities. As VP of Maintenance and Reliability, Gary was responsible for maintaining the Company’s $2 billion asset base, consisting of 21 energy-from-waste and other power plants, and for 250 maintenance professionals. 

Gary lives with his wife in Cocoa, Florida and in his spare time, he enjoys boating, running, and spending time with family.

Andy Carrasco

Andy Carrasco

Vice President, Communications, Local Government and Community Affairs, SoCalGas

Andy Carrasco is vice president of communications, local government and community affairs for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a Sempra Energy regulated California utility. He leads the company’s communications and external affairs, including engagement with media, business and nonprofit organizations and local government in more than 500 communities across Central and Southern California.

Carrasco spent much of the last decade leading SoCalGas’ public affairs department where he directed local government and community outreach, and advanced the company’s clean air, energy efficiency, and social impact programs.

In support of SoCalGas’ mission to build the cleanest, safest and most innovative energy company in America, Carrasco leads engagement across a variety of stakeholders on clean energy innovations like renewable natural gas (RNG), fuel cells, carbon capture technologies, and hydrogen that will help California reach its ambitious climate goals affordably.

Carrasco is passionate about social justice and committed to community empowerment. He serves on the board of the Southeast Community Development Corporation, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum, Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University and USC Executive Education at the Price School. In 2020 he was awarded by California Diversity Council as one of the top 50 Diverse Leaders.

Carrasco has worked in energy as an engineer and in external affairs for nearly three decades. Since joining SoCalGas in 2001 as a commercial and industrial account executive, he has been appointed to roles of increasing responsibility in the commercial and industrial services, supply management and external affairs areas. Before joining SoCalGas, he worked as a mechanical engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Carrasco holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University, Northridge.

Ed Duggan

Ed Duggan

Director, Project Development - Wind for Eolus North America Inc.,

Ed Duggan is Director, Project Development – Wind for Eolus North America Inc., Vice President of Tehachapi Wind Wall LLC, and a member of the Oak Creek Energy Systems Board of Directors.  With Eolus North America, a subsidiary of Eolus Vind AB of Sweden, Ed is working with a lean, experienced team to develop profitable wind, solar, and hybrid generation and storage projects that will help California achieve its’ goal of 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2045 or sooner.

Eolus completed construction of its’ first US project in early 2021. The 46.5 MW Wind Wall 1  “re-power” project came online in Tehachapi in early 2021 and it was sold to Cubico Sustainable in May 2021 under a 15-year power purchase agreement with a division of Amazon.com, Inc.

Ed started working on wind project development in California in 1984 and moved to Tehachapi in 1986. He worked for project developer and operator of Oak Creek Energy Systems for 14 years and, starting in 2001 and continuing through 2009, Ed and wind pioneer Hal Romanowitz defined and initiated development of what became the largest wind project constructed in the US – the 1,550 MW Alta Wind Energy Center that was constructed in Kern County between 2011 and 2014.

With over 40 years of wind project development and construction experience in Tehachapi and elsewhere in the western United States, Ed has a strong grasp of wind industry issues and economics behind it. Recently, Ed has been exploring the viability of generating “Green Hydrogen” from Wind energy in Kern County.

Ed now splits his time between Huntington Beach and Tehachapi where he is currently working on completing the re-powering of the Tehachapi Wind Wall Project and focused on developing new renewable energy projects in California and Nevada.

Dr. James McGarrah

Dr. James McGarrah

Associate Dean of Instruction for STEM, Bakersfield College

James McGarrah is originally from Bakersfield, CA and has been teaching at Bakersfield College since 2017.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Physics from the UC San Diego and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Rochester.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University as an ACS Petroleum Research Fund Alternative Energy Fellow.  He has had academic appointments at Barnard College, SUNY Geneseo, and Union College.  He is currently the Associate Dean of Instruction for Physical Science and Engineering at Bakersfield College.

B. Joe Ashley

B. Joe Ashley

Director- Regulatory Affairs & Surface Reclamation, California Resources Corporation

Born and raised in North Carolina, Mr. Ashley started working in California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1995 as a biologist who spent countless hours working on threatened and endangered species issues for Oil & Gas projects.  In 1998 he met his wonderful wife Lisa, a Bakersfield native.  They spent the next few years working together all throughout the Central Valley as environmental consultants.  Joe joined California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum Corporation) in 2004 and since then has been working on Oil & Gas assets from Huntington Beach to Humboldt on topics ranging from endangered species and cultural resources, to compliance and permitting, to State and Federal environmental policy issues. 

 In addition to his role as the Director of Regulatory Affairs at CRC, Joe currently serves the community in the following positions: Kern Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors (Chair), the Water Association of Kern County Board of Directors, and the Kern County Planning Commission (representing District 2).

 Mr. Ashley holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Biology and is the proud father of two wonderful children Lauren and Ian.

Mayor Dave Noerr

Mayor Dave Noerr

City of Taft/ President & CEO, Huddleston Crane Service

Dave Noerr is our current Taft Mayor. He became the mayor in 2008. Before Dave became the mayor he was a two term city councilman. He is a co-owner of Huddleston Crane Service, a local company that has been in business since 1946. Dave has worked in the oil industry since 1981. He lives in Taft with his wife, Tammy Noerr, and has raised his two children Ashley and D.J. Noerr here.

Trem Smith

Trem Smith

Board Chair, CEO & President – Berry Corporation (bry)

Trem Smith has served as Chief Executive Officer, President and a director since March 2017 and as Board Chair since February 2019. Prior to being named Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Smith began an informal consulting relationship with Berry in May 2016, followed by a formal consulting relationship in October 2016, then serving as interim Chief Executive Officer until his formal appointment in March 2017. Mr. Smith has over 36 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. In January 2014, Mr. Smith founded TS&J Consulting, where he served until joining Berry , which focused on providing consulting services to distressed companies and assets in the United States and United Kingdom. From January 2007 until January 2014, Mr. Smith was President and Chief Executive Officer at Hillwood International Energy, L.P. and HKN Energy Ltd., which focused on discoveries and production in the United States and northern Iraq. Mr. Smith spent 25 years of his career at Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX), from 1981 until 2006, where he served in a number of leadership positions with increasing responsibilities in Russia, Thailand and multiple locations in the United States, including La Habra and San Francisco, California. While at Chevron, Mr. Smith was exposed to all phases of the business, including production, operations, exploration, business development, mergers and acquisitions, finance and technology. Mr. Smith graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a major in Geology and minor in Russian and received a Master’s degree and PhD in Geology from Pennsylvania State University.

Sapan Sood

Sapan Sood

Principal, Regulatory Affairs and GHG Strategy, Chevron

Sapan Sood currently leads the Regulatory Leadership Team and the Lower Carbon Team in Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit. Sapan joined Chevron in 2007 as part of Chevron Global Power’s Regulatory Affairs Team in Houston, and has since worked in midstream, upstream, and corporate development at various Chevron locations – Texas, Louisiana, UK, Bahrain, Thailand, and California. Prior to joining Chevron, Sapan worked for bp in downstream in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and UK. Sapan received his MS in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and MBA from Duke University. Sapan enjoys hiking and watching sports and is an ardent soccer fan.

Suzanne Noble

Suzanne Noble

Senior Director of Production Operations, Western States Petroleum Association

Suzanne Noble is the Senior Director of Production Operations with the Western States Petroleum Association.  During her tenure with WSPA she has worked throughout the state of California on environmental regulatory issues in coastal regions, San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento. She is responsible for managing and directing production priority projects, regional external affairs, research of technical issues and coordination of working issues groups and technical committees.

Prior to joining WSPA, Suzanne served as a minerals advisor to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.  At the Department of the Interior, a minerals advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, she was responsible for legislative and national regulatory and environmental issues related to oil and gas production on federal lands throughout the Country.

In the Bureau of Land Management, Suzanne served as Communication Coordinator for fluid minerals and then as Fluid Minerals Coordination Specialist developing strategies for outreach and marketing of the Bureau’s Oil and Gas National Performance Review and represented the Bureau on Interagency Agreements for mineral projects and publicly on environmental issues.

Suzanne is a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield, and holds a bachelor’s degrees in both communications and liberal studies.

Alicia R. Knapp

Alicia R. Knapp

President & CEO, BHE Renewables

Alicia R. Knapp, 42, serves as president and CEO of BHE Renewables. BHE Renewables owns solar, wind, geothermal, natural gas and hydroelectric projects that produce energy for both the wholesale market and for customers under long-term power purchase agreements.

Prior to this role, Knapp served as the vice president of renewable generation for MidAmerican Energy, where she was responsible for renewable generation operations and electric trading. Prior to this role, Knapp served as vice president of gas delivery at MidAmerican Energy, where she was responsible for gas delivery operations, gas control, compliance and integrity management, and gas supply and trading. Prior to this role, Knapp served as general manager of project development at BHE Renewables, where she managed the development and construction of wind and solar farms. She has been with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy family of businesses since 2001 and held roles in risk management, gas trading, and nuclear and renewable project management earlier in her career.

Knapp earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and two teenage children.

Deborah Builder

Deborah Builder

Senior Vice President, Development, 8minute Solar Energy

Deborah has spent the last thirteen years in the renewable energy sector concentrated on the development of utility-scale solar projects, and has over six years of experience successfully managing land development projects. Prior to joining 8minute Solar Energy, Deborah was a Development Manager for WorleyParsons, where she was responsible for helping to develop and permit over 450 MW of utility-scale solar projects on private, state, and Federal lands. She was also previously the Senior Forward Planner for America’s largest residential homebuilder where she successfully obtained land entitlements and permits on aggressive timelines. Deborah spent over 3 years producing environmental documents in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Deborah holds a B.S. in biology and a M.S. in environmental biology from Ohio University, as well as a J.D. from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Erik Bartsch - Keynote

Erik Bartsch - Keynote

President & CEO, Aera Energy

Erik Bartsch brings over 20 years of energy industry experience to his role as president and CEO of Aera Energy.

Before joining Aera in 2020, he spent the bulk of his career at Shell, beginning as a geoscientist to help unlock new sources of energy in basins around the world.

From there, he held several management positions, including leader of Canada’s in-situ steam play, general manager for the U.S. Mid-Continent shales business, and exploration manager in the Gulf of Mexico deep-water business.

In 2017, Erik was appointed Shell’s vice president of safety and environment for the Integrated Gas and New Energies directorate. There he led a transformational journey on safety and operational improvements in the greenhouse-gas footprint.

“I share Aera’s commitment to safety and responsible production,” he says, “and look forward to taking us to the next level in terms of safe and affordable energy supply for California.”

“The next decade will be an exciting time in California, as the state’s bold climate goals gain momentum,” adds Bartsch. “I’m committed to ensuring Aera is a meaningful part of the solution.”

A native of California, Bartsch earned his degree in geology from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He completed his master’s degree in geology at the University of Colorado.

Bartsch and his family relocated to Bakersfield from The Netherlands in 2020. Outside of work, he enjoys an active family life and early morning exercise.

Thank you to our Sponsors:
















Kern Economic Development Corporation (Kern EDC) is a public-private partnership that brings together private businesses, education, elected officials, and non-profit organizations for the purpose of a single goal: creating a strong and diverse economy for Kern County. Kern EDC promotes the region to businesses looking for areas to expand, and works with existing local businesses to ensure they have what they need to thrive and grow here in Kern County.

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Kern Economic Development Corporation
2700 M Street, Suite 200
Bakersfield, CA 93301


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