emPOWERing Young Professionals

GCPA emPOWERing Young Professionals Award

The emPOWERing Young Professionals award recognizes individuals under the age of 40 who actively participate in the electric power industry and contribute to the success of their employer, the success of the electric power market, the development of other industry professionals and provide leadership for projects or activities within the electric power profession.

INTERESTED IN NOMINATING A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL WHO IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN OUR INDUSTRY?  GCPA is now accepting nominations for the 2024 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award. Nominations are due by Monday, August 5.

To view the 2024 nomination form - CLICK HERE

Questions about the emPOWERing Young Professionals Award? Contact Mary Armstrong.

Meet Michael Lee, our 2023 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award Recipient

Michael Lee has worked in the renewable energy industry for more than a decade and currently serves as CEO of Octopus Energy U.S. Michael’s extensive career experience began after he earned his MBA from Harvard, where he quickly unlocked his passion for cleaner and cheaper electricity. He went on to work on some of the first battery storage projects and developed solar solutions for global Fortune 500’s. Michael co-founded Pacific New Energy in 2016, leading the charge in establishing international partnerships to deliver solutions in collaboration with local utilities. Michael spent nearly a decade in the IPP industry helping finance some of the earliest batteries, wind and solar projects.

In 2018, Michael launched an energy retailer in Texas called Evolve Energy. Michael’s innovative product focused on real-time index pricing paired with load shaping automation software to support optimal energy usage and ease grid tensions while saving customers money. During his time with Evolve Energy, Michael led negotiations with ERCOT electric supply agreements (EMSA, ISDA), optimizing liquidity needs and risk exposures. Michael recognized the importance and value of helping customers reduce energy bills by using technology and consumer-friendly demand response products to balance the grid.

In 2020, Michael aligned with Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, when they realized the power of their shared mission to decarbonize energy through technology and smart rates. Just two years after its launch, Evolve Energy was acquired by Octopus Energy, an energy technology company leading the global-scale effort to build a more reliable grid and push toward the goal of decarbonizing energy. Michael and his team have tackled Texas' power industry problems head-on through innovative, tech-driven solutions and products. He is an entrepreneur who believes in using technology to create demand-centric solutions to enforce a more resilient energy grid. Octopus Energy is currently valued at more than $5 billion in 2023 and is backed by some of the largest global energy players such as Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, Origin Energy, Tokyo Gas and CPP.

For further information on Michael's accomplishments, please click here to see the press release announcing Michael as the recipient of the 2023 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award.

Past Recipients

Ian Haley - 2022 Recipient

Ian’s extensive career experience spans retail and wholesale interests, both internally focused and external. Ian began his career at Luminant and TXU Energy, where he worked on retail pricing and risk analysis, as well as structuring custom retail electric service agreements. These opportunities provided valuable insights into the nexus between the ERCOT wholesale and retail markets, which helped prepare him to grow into his role representing Luminant in the ERCOT stakeholder process. Since moving to Austin in 2015, Ian has been an ardent participant in the stakeholder process.  He is currently a member of the ERCOT Technical Advisory Committee, Protocol Revision Subcommittee, Reliability and Operations Subcommittee, and Wholesale Market Subcommittee, as well as serving as Co-Vice Chair of the Supply Analysis Working Group.  Ian is a graduate of Tulane University, where he earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Management.

For further information on Ian's accomplishments, please click here to see the press release announcing Ian as the recipient of the 2022 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award.

Alexandra Williams - 2021 Recipient

Alexandra William’s extensive career experience in ERCOT includes contracting over 800 MW of renewable power purchases, managing the two largest demand response books and over 15 GW of power generation.   She joined ExxonMobil (XOM) in 2019, tasked with developing and expanding XOM’s participation in the power markets.  She is responsible for renewable power purchases, trading, growing the demand response portfolio and managing key relationships/accounts in ERCOT, CAISO and MISO.  Alexandra began her career at MP2 Energy on the real-time desk and later moved on to EDF Trading North America.  Alexandra is a NERC certified reliability coordinator and a graduate of the University of Houston with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Political Science. 

For further information on Alexandra's accomplishments, please click here to see the press release announcing Alexandra as the recipient of the 2021 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award.

David Maggio - 2020 Recipient

David Maggio has been directly engaged with the ERCOT market as an ERCOT staff member since 2007.  In his current role as Director of Market Design and Analytics, his group is primarily responsible for investigating ERCOT wholesale electricity market trends and design changes and for validating day-to-day wholesale market outcomes.  His work was recently focused on developing policy and rules for the implementation of real-time co-optimization of energy and ancillary services and the integration of energy storage resources.  Maggio has also played a key role in the evaluation of reserve requirements for the ERCOT region, the integration of intermittent renewable resources, operation and analysis of the congestion revenue rights market, and systems and rules development for the ERCOT nodal market.  He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

For further information on David's accomplishments, please click here to see the press release announcing David as the recipient of the 2020 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award.  

Katie Coleman - 2019 Recipient

Katie Coleman is a Partner in the Austin office of O'Melveny & Myers.  She was previously a partner at Thompson & Knight, where she served as the Firm’s Government and Regulatory Practice Group Leader. Katie has more than a decade of experience representing large customers on energy matters in Texas and has extensive experience with both ERCOT’s competitive market and rate regulation under the PUCT. Katie also assists large companies with private contracting and infrastructure projects, including energy supply agreements, joint ownership agreements for privately owned electrical facilities, and generation project development.
Katie is a member of the Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA) and is serving as President for 2020-2021. She previously served as President of the State Bar of Texas Public Utility Law Section for the 2016-2017 term. 
Katie has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® from 2018-2021, selected as “Lawyer of the Year – Energy Regulatory, Austin” by The Best Lawyers in America® for 2019, recognized by Chambers USA for “Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation” from 2015-2021, recognized by The Legal 500 US for “Energy Regulatory – Conventional Power” from 2017-2021, honored as a “Texas Rising Star” in Legislative & Governmental Affairs by Thomson Reuters for 2016-2021, and recognized as one of 23 statewide Texas Lawyer’s “Lawyers on the Rise” in 2018. She also received the Gulf Coast Power Association’s (GCPA’s) “emPOWERing Young Professionals Award” in 2019. 

For further information on Katie's accomplishments, please click here to see the press release announcing Katie as the recipient of the 2019 emPOWERing Young Professionals Award.  

Rebecca Zerwas - 2018 Recipient

Rebecca Zerwas is Division Director of Market Analysis at the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). Prior to this, she was Regulatory Affairs Manager at CenterPoint Energy where she provided regulatory support to the electric business unit.

Her utility career started as a Retail Market Analyst at the PUCT and then moved on to Wholesale Market Analyst. She subsequently joined NRG Energy where she further developed her skills in the electric utility regulatory field, moving from Regulatory Specialist to Regulatory Manager in three years. During her time at NRG Energy she was active in Electric Reliability Organization of Texas (ERCOT) issues being the Retail Market Subcommittee (RMS) Vice Chair for two years before becoming the RMS Chair in 2018. During these years, she provided leadership to her employers by providing expert witness testimony, analyses of financial implications of regulatory issues and interfacing with numerous industry groups and lobbyists. She has also been an active participant in GCPA activities. 

For further information on Rebecca's accomplishments please see the press release for her award announcement.