Energypath 2018 in Review

Energypath 2018 brought together industry professionals and aspiring professionals for high-level learning on grid integration, solar energy, electric vehicles, energy storage, and other sustainable energy topics. This unique program is the combination of an Energy Camp for college students and a professional conference with leaders of the energy market. The event was held at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA and engaged over 300 people from July 23-26, 2018. This event is a key initiative of Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF).

Energy camps and a science fair for students supporting a sustainable energy future

The energy camps were held over three days that were punctuated by heavy rains. However, the weather did not stop the construction of a solar array and a wind turbine.  There were 120 students from 80 different colleges from across the United States, from California to Maine. Each student chose to attend one energy camp from the three that were offered, which were Solar 101, Wind 101 and Introduction to Sustainable Energy.  


In the evenings, the students competed in a rousing game of Sustainable Energy Jeopardy and toured nearby Lutron Electronics Company, a leader in the lighting control industry that offers a wide selection of energy saving dimmers and lighting control solutions.

The Energypath Conference and breakout sessions

The Energypath Conference was held after the completion of the energy camps. The students were joined by over 140 industry professionals. The Conference began with the opening session by Dr. Rudy Shankar of Lehigh University who spoke about challenges and opportunities in creating the 21st century electric grid.  There were four tracks of breakout sessions that included topics such as “Moving Electric Vehicles to Mass Deployment”, “US Power Market and Solar Power”, and “Ensuring Grid Reliability with Increased Distributed Energy Resources”. Notable speakers included Steven Strong of Solar Design Associates, David Quier of PPL and Thomas Bonner of PECO/Exelon.

PDH’s (professional development hours) were offered by Lehigh Valley Association of Energy Engineers (LV AEE) for several of the breakout sessions. Industry professionals can use these PDH’s towards continuing education credits with AEE and other professional engineering societies. The Lunch Session speaker was Kenneth Schulyer from PJM who spoke about Integration of Renewables into the PJM Grid. The evening ended with live music, two keynote speakers and the presentation of the Epstein Award.

There was also an expo with exhibitors and a science fair with participants from middle and high school at the conference. Prizes for the science fair ranged between $1250 (first place) and $250 (3rd place).

Middle school winners are

  • 1st place: Marjorie Romero from Wilson Southern Middle School
  • 2nd place: Cody McBride from McBride Homeschool
  • 3rd place: Susan Deering from Avon Grove Charter School

High school winners are

  • 1st place: Sathya Edamadaka, High Technology High School
  • 2nd place: April Pivonka, Camp Hill High School
  • 3rd place: Katherine Comisac, Susquenita High School

Keynote Speakers Patrick McDonnell and Gladys Brown

SEF was proud to host two exceptional keynote speakers at Energypath. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Patrick McDonnell, a DeSales University alumnus, returned to the school to speak about energy and the efforts of the commonwealth. The second keynote speaker was Chairman Gladys Brown from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), who spoke about the work of the PUC and the employment opportunities in the energy field.  


The Conference ended with the presentation of the 2018 Epstein Lifetime Achievement Award to Craig Onori of Lehigh Valley Health Network. The Epstein Award is presented to a deserving individual each year for a lifetime of work in moving society towards a sustainable energy future. Craig Onori is Vice President of Operations for Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In this role, Onori has led the effort to install 1,350 solar photovoltaic panels that generate over 300,000 kWh/yr of electricity on the roofs of two hospitals in the Network.

His long list of hard work, effort, and achievements to build a sustainable energy future include:

  • Installing solar thermal panels that generate all of the hot water needed for the Hackerman-Patz House
  • Implementing numerous energy efficiency projects
  • Purchasing the first three vehicles in the Lehigh Valley that operate on compressed natural gas for use by the hospital
  • Partnering with US DOT, Ford, and Air Products to beta test the operation of a hydrogen-powered shuttle bus at the LVH-Cedar Crest campus
  • Implementing a comprehensive recycling program at the hospital that recycles 998 tons/yr of waste (21% of total waste)
  • Using a food service provider who grows fresh vegetables in garden plots at two of their hospitals and purchases locally grown produce for meals served to visitors and staff in their retail cafeterias.    

Perhaps the best way to summarize Energypath 2018 is by a quote from attendee Dr. Jennifer Bernstein of University of Southern California.

“As a first-time attendee, I was truly impressed with Energypath 2018. The panels featured a wide range of speakers from academia, government, and industry, all whose substantive expertise resulted in informative, engaging presentations. Notably, the conference managed to provide information accessible to clean energy novices and experts alike. The event struck an excellent balance between being too large and too small, facilitating a collegial and friendly atmosphere for networking and socializing. Further, the event was impeccably organized and smoothly run, with regular, clear communication before, during, and after the event. Academics, professionals, and students located in the northeast and engaged in the clean energy space would be well served to attend.”