2016 Judges


Jim E. Rogers
Author of Lighting the World: Transforming Our Energy Future by Bringing Electricity to Everyone
Director, Energy Access Project, Duke University
Former CEO and Chairman of the Board, Duke Energy

Jim Rogers is a Duke University Rubenstein Fellow, Visiting Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy, and director of the newly created Energy Access Project.  Rogers spent three decades at the helm of electric utility companies, including serving as the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Duke Energy, which he grew into one of the largest electric utilities in the world.  After his retirement from Duke Energy in 2013, Rogers turned his attention to the international stage and renewables, and considers rural electricity access to be one of the most pressing and important energy issues of our time.  In 2015, Rogers authored Lighting the World: Transforming Our Energy Future by Bringing Electricity to Everyone, in which he advocates for scaling affordable, clean and reliable electricity to the world’s 1.2B rural poor through off-grid, primarily renewable solutions.  Rogers believes what is learned by electrifying rural areas of the world who live without it will prove vital to the modernization of the aging “first-world” energy system.

A long-time supporter of renewable energy, Rogers guided investments of $4B in wind and solar assets while at Duke Energy.  He was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a collaboration of leading businesses and environmental groups that supported federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Rogers co-founded the Global BrightLight Foundation, which delivers solar-powered lanterns capable of charging cell phone to rural communities around the world.  He serves on a variety of boards, including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Clean Energy Ministerial of the United Nations, Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance advisory board, Invenergy, Broadscale, the Energy Solar Association, the Solar Electric Power Association, the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Asia Society, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, theUnited Nations Sustainable Energy for All advisory committee, and is on the Global Board of the Nature Conservancy.

Rogers teaches a graduate-level seminar at Duke University on Renewables and the World’s Poor, and lectures across the University as well as at other institutions on domestic and international energy policy and finance.  In addition to promoting efforts to achieve worldwide sustainable electricity access, building the Energy Access Project at Duke University, and his board activities, Jim has co-founded Intrepid Energy Partners, which focuses on investments in solar and energy storage technology.

Tim Profeta
Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Tim Profeta is the director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Since 2005, the Institute has grown into a major nonpartisan player in key environmental debates, serving both the public and private sectors with sound understanding of complex environmental issues.
Profeta’s areas of expertise include climate change and energy policy, the Clean Air Act, and adaptive use of current environmental laws to address evolving environmental challenges. His work at the Institute has included numerous legislative and executive branch proposals to mitigate climate change, including providing Congressional testimony several times on his work at Duke University, developing multiple legislative proposals for cost containment and economic efficiency in greenhouse gas mitigation programs, and facilitating climate and energy policy design processes for several U.S. states.

Prior to his arrival at Duke, Profeta served as counsel for the environment to Sen. Joseph Lieberman. As Lieberman’s counsel, he was a principal architect of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. He also represented Lieberman in legislative negotiations pertaining to environmental and energy issues, as well as coordinating the senator’s energy and environmental portfolio during his runs for national office. Profeta has continued to build on his Washington experience to engage in the most pertinent debates surrounding climate change and energy. In addition to his role at the Institute, Profeta serves as Chairman of the Board for 8 Rivers Capital, is a member of the Climate Action Reserve Board of Directors, and is a member of The American Law Institute. Profeta also holds an appointment as an Associate Professor of the Practice at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Profeta earned a J.D., magna cum laude, and M.E.M. in Resource Ecology from Duke in 1997 and a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University in 1992.

Sudha Gollapudi
Associate Director, Structured Finance & Insurance, OPIC
Advisory Board Member, Clean Energy Leadership Institute

Sudha has dedicated her career to helping accelerate the adoption of clean energy.  Her 15 years of experience have spanned both the private and public sectors and have taken her to over 20 countries.  Sudha currently serves as an Associate Director in the Structured Finance & Insurance Group at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government's Development Finance Institution.  In this role, she helps mobilize U.S. private sector investments in emerging markets.  Since joining OPIC, she has facilitated more than $300 million in debt investments for energy, telecom, infrastructure, and banking clients.  More recently, her focus has been primarily on Power Africa transactions.  Prior to joining OPIC, Sudha served as Chief Business Officer of Sol Systems, a solar finance and development company specializing in U.S. commercial and industrial solar project deployment.  In this role, she oversaw all aspects of sales, business development, marketing, and operations.  In addition to her work, Sudha is involved in a number of volunteer initiatives and nonprofits, including the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI).  CELI was founded in 2013 with a mission to train the next generation of clean energy professionals by providing them with the skills and network needed to advance in the sector.  As chair of the development committee, she leads foundation and corporate fundraising efforts.

Sudha has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Bates College, a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, and a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.

Rotimi Thomas
Manager Finance & Strategy – Microgrids USA, Siemens

Rotimi Thomas currently works for Siemens as a Development Funding Investment Manager with Siemens’ Power and Gas group where he funds the development of power projects across Africa. Prior to this, Rotimi was with the Siemens US Microgrids business (hybrid renewable energy systems) as the US Microgrids Finance and Strategy Manager where he led Financial Valuation model development, Strategic Partnerships, and New Commercial Ventures. Before the Microgrids role, he managed the development of a Performance Guarantee business model for an internal start up with Siemens Germany focusing on hybrid renewable energy power plants, and before that worked in controlling with the Siemens Germany’s global Energy Transmission business.  Rotimi Thomas completed his Master in Business Administration (MBA) and Master in Environmental Management (MEM) at Duke University in 2013.

During his MBA/MEM, Rotimi worked as a Renewable Energy Consultant for Walt Disney, and as a Leadership Development Associate at Constellation Energy in Risk Management. Prior to his MBA, Rotimi worked as a Senior Investment Representative with the Wealth Management arm of Toronto Dominion Bank in Canada. Rotimi also dedicates his time as a Strategy Director for MoveBackToNigeria.com, a group focused on reversing Nigeria’s brain drain.

He enjoys music & documentary making, martial arts, basketball, soccer, dance choreography, and dedicating time to developing others. 

Ramesh Akella
Managing Director at Centrosolar

Prior to joining Centrosolar, he served as Chairman and CEO of Oriundus Asset Management Co., a renewable energy private equity fund and Managing Partner of Phoenix Capital Partners, an investment banking boutique which he founded in 1998. Prior thereto, Ram was Managing Director of Dover Finance Group Ltd., a corporate finance boutique specializing in structured finance for media, entertainment and communications companies. Prior thereto, Ram managed direct investments for a family office. Ram holds an M.B.A. with Distinction from Cornell University.

Scarlett Harrod
Global Program Development Manager - Next Level Oil, Gas, and Chemical, ABB

Scarlett is focused on driving collaborative growth for ABB in the oil, gas, and chemicals industries globally. Her work centers around strategic alignment of ABB’s integrated power, automation, telecoms and service offering to best serve customers in diverse and dynamic markets. In prior roles with ABB, Scarlett has worked on strategic business development for North America, AMEA, and the Electrification Products Division, respectively.

Scarlett earned her MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and her B.S. from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Her previous experience includes EDF Trading, Merrill Lynch, and Sovereign Consulting.

Andy Bindea
CEO of Sigora International & Sigora Haiti

A consummate entrepreneur, Andy has dedicated his career to environmental and social causes. He spent 5 years as a Greenpeace Campaign Coordinator in Central and Eastern Europe where he ran clean water, ethical mining and renewable energy campaigns. He left the Non-profit sector to pioneer an environmentally conscious start-up plastic recycling company in Romania.

In 2011 he founded Sigora Solar in Virginia, Andy led the company to become #8 fastest growing energy company in the United States, an Inc.500 company recognized as the “cleanest” in its field and the largest solar energy system design and installation company in Virginia. While he is still a majority share-holder of the company he has passed all operation to a professional management team.

In 2014 he founded and financed Sigora Haiti and developed the country’s first fully legal private utility company to provide clean, reliable and fairly-priced electricity to all homes and businesses. In less than 6 months Sigora Haiti has electrified a town of 5000 people, 6 schools, 3 clinics and 35 businesses. Sigora Haiti, a clean energy microutility company, has obtained a exclusive service area to electrify 320,000 people in 9 towns in the NW of Haiti which will be completed by Q4 2017.

Recognizing the replicability and scalability of the Haiti micro-utility business, he created Sigora International, an energy technology development and micro-utility company set to take electrification to the 1.2BN people without energy access. Sigora International has developed it's own pre-paid energy metering technology, specifically built to satisfy the needs of the microutility sector. Sigora's metering technology allows microutilities to financially sustainably branch all customers regardless of size to cooking and refrigeration capable electricity and effectively collect all revenue while eliminating power theft. The technology also includes internet broadcasting capability and community wide emergency alert systems.


He is personally committed to global electrification, to the sustainable electrification of educational and medical institutions and the integration of information access and rapid community wide emergency response with the microutility business model.

Michael Panfil
Director of Federal Energy Policy and Senior Attorney at EDF

Michael Panfil is an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund Clean Energy Program whose work includes federal, state, and regulatory efforts across the country to design a more environmentally friendly, economic, and efficient electric system. Michael also engages on efforts to reduce emissions throughout the United States by advocating for the deployment of smarter technology, improved design standards, and sustainable practices. Michael has spent significant time working on "Cuba's Energy Crisis" with a focus on future generation options.

Daniel Jaouiche
Senior Manager with Accenture Strategy

Daniel has over twenty years of energy experience in senior corporate and advisory roles. He focuses on strategy, business development, innovation, and implementation along the energy value chain including: oil and gas (up- through downstream), power, gas transmission, sustainability and technology. Daniel’s thought-leadership helps his clients to develop and implement innovative and transformational strategies.


Joseph "Buzz" Miller
President and CEO, Southern Power

Buzz Miller serves as president and chief executive officer of Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company. Southern Power is America’s Premier Wholesale Energy Partner, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives, investor-owned utilities and other energy customers with one of the fastest growing clean energy portfolios in the U.S. He was named to his current position in February 2016.

Miller started his career in the oil field service industry. After joining Alabama Power in 1986, he advanced through a series of positions at Alabama Power and Southern Nuclear prior to his appointment in Washington, D.C., in 1993 as federal affairs manager. In 1999, he was elected vice president of the Southern Company Washington office. From 2006 to 2016, Miller was president of nuclear development for Southern Nuclear and executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power.

Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University. He completed an executive program at The Wharton School of Business and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reactor technology course for utility executives. Miller is a member of Auburn University’s Engineering Alumni Council and is a 2015 inductee into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. 

Carlos Fernandez-Aballi Altamirano, PhD
Chief Strategy Officer, Cuba Strategies Inc.

As CSC of Cuba Strategies, Inc. (“CSI”) Carlos is responsible for prospectively designing CSI´s development, furthering quality, outreach and competitiveness. Carlos is a Cuban entrepreneur and academic. In Cuba he founded and presided the Non Agricultural Cooperative (NAC) “Cooperativa Industrias Purita”, the only agro-industrial NAC, dedicated to the production of dehydrated foods, specializing in spices and fruits. He worked at the Research Center for Renewable Energy Technologies (CETER) in the Higher Polytechnic Institute Jose Antonio Echevería and at the Higher Institute of Industrial Design (ISDi).

He has been the founding member of multiple organizations in Cuba, these include:

  • Sustainable Engineering Solutions (SoIS) - a transnational cooperative, dedicated to the commercialization of engineering solutions for social housing.
  • PiTAD (Platform for the Implementation of Technologies Adequate for Development) - a transdisciplinary and multicultural platform of young engineers meriting three UNESCO Mondialogo Engineering Awards.
  • MACDES - the International Conference for Sustainable Development and the Built Environment.
  • Habana´s Youth Science and Technology Festival.

He was on the organizing committee of Cuba’s International Conference for Renewable Energy (CIER), the 2013 World Wind Energy Conference, and the Mother Earth Festival, a nation wide cultural event to promote a culture of balance, sustainability and respect. His academic research has been in the development of technologies for harnessing renewable energy sources and generating business models that can drive sustainable development.

Carlos studied Engineering Design at the University of Bristol (Masters), specializing in aero-mechanical systems and dynamical systems modelling. There, he was the founding Vice-President of Engineers Without Borders (Bristol Branch) and was awarded the Albert Fry Price for his extraordinary contribution to the life of the University. He obtained his PhD at Habana´s Higher Polytechnic Institute with studies at the University of Gent, identifying a new thermodynamic cycle corresponding to the Thermal Lag Engine. Carlos earned a James Madison Fellowship in 2013, granted by the James Madison Summer Institute on the Constitution at Georgetown University, dedicated to the study of the principles, framing, ratification and implementation of the Constitution of the United States of America. As a Cuban national with extensive experience in the burgeoning entrepreneurial movement on the Island, Carlos provides expert guidance on navigating the cultural, societal and business cultures particular to this newly emerging market.

Carlos Nouel
Leader of New Energy Solutions, National Grid

Carlos is a partnership and procurement professional with a broad experience in the energy industry as well as other industries, currently helping deliver energy innovations for National Grid: New Energy Solutions. Experience developing new and innovative engagement, operational and economic models to maximize value for multiple stakeholders. Experience in process design and process optimization. Have been responsible several times for the creation of new departments. Have been involved in the implementation of multiple technology systems. Have achieved significant cost efficiency's in several areas of the company.

He is currently responsible for leading an agile team focused on developing and launching innovative solutions and technologies that unlock value for National Grid’s customers and communities and accelerate progress towards a sustainable future.


Megan Reilly Cayten
                Emerging Markets Specialist               

Megan Reilly Cayten has lived and worked in power and infrastructure development on five continents. Throughout her career she has focused on developing, financing and operating sustainable core infrastructure and basic services, predominantly in emerging markets. She developed two large-scale power and gas assets for the AES Corporation in Central America and the Caribbean, and as part of Citigroup's project finance team based in Hong Kong, she originated, structured and executed financings with an aggregate total value of over $10 billion for power and infrastructure assets across the Asia-Pacific region. More recently, she developed fund-level reporting and managed assets for the infrastructure fund Alinda Capital Partners, and executed Alinda’s first divestiture, and served as the Environmental, Social and Governance impact and Investor Relations partner of an investment firm focused on distributed power generation in sub Saharan Africa. She also founded and served as CEO of Catrinka, a social enterprise dedicated to the financial empowerment of women and girls.

Megan has participated in two Cuba study trips: as a member and interpreter for the President's Commission on the BP Macondo Oil Spill visit in 2013, after which she published an op-ed in the Washington Post urging the US to support oil spill prevention and response efforts in Cuba, and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Gulf Study Initiative trip in 2014. She holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA from Yale, and speaks fluent Spanish and conversational French and Mandarin Chinese. She is a member of the board of the National Environmental Education Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund's National Council, and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and three children.

2015 Judges

James E. Rogers
Graham Smith
Marc van Gerven
Steve Sanders
Stephen J. Pettit
Tanja Vujic, JD
David Rabley
Neil Bhagat
Rotimi Thomas
John Bethea, PE
Vikram Rao
Tim Profeta
Sam Bjork