Climate Action Campaign

Getting to Know Barr’s New Clean Energy Program Officer

Six questions for Meredith Hatfield.

1. How did you get interested in energy and energy policy?

Growing up in rural New Hampshire I learned to appreciate the beauty of New England’s many treasures—its mountains, coasts, cities, and towns. And being raised as a thrifty, waste-conscious Yankee, I got used to turning off the lights or turning down the heat if there was no one in the room. All that, and my love of animals, pointed me to working to address environmental issues. As I began my career, I came to realize the significant impact that energy has on the environment and I decided to focus there.

2. What are the major energy challenges we face as a region today?

This region has made great progress to become more efficient and to shift to clean and local energy sources. A challenge we face is that this progress has been uneven, and we need to do more, faster. There are opportunities for some states to catch up, and to ensure that the benefits from clean energy and efficiency are more widely shared. Ambitious new energy policies will be critical to move us forward. The good news is that our region is already ahead of most of the country in working to address these issues. But we need to keep up and build on our momentum.

3. How do you expect your training and practice in energy and environmental law will inform your work at Barr?

Even though legal training in many ways prepares you for litigation, for me practicing law was more about finding common ground and collaborating to create solutions that could work for everyone—and seeing how often you can achieve better outcomes by incorporating diverse views. I think that seeing issues from multiple points of view will serve me well as I learn more about the work of Barr’s grantees and the opportunities to achieve the region’s clean energy goals.

For me, practicing law was more about finding common ground and collaborating to create solutions that could work for everyone.

4. You’ve said that your first introduction to the Barr Foundation was through some of its grantees, with whom you interacted during your time leading the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. Where was their engagement most helpful in advancing a clean energy agenda?

I was most impressed by, and truly benefited from, the clear and persuasive analysis nonprofits provided in support of our clean energy work on a wide range of topics. I saw Barr’s grantees navigating complex regulatory and legislative processes not only in New Hampshire, where I worked, but in different states all at once. Their ability to build coalitions and collaborate with diverse stakeholders was also impressive—it helped elevate the many voices that are supportive of clean energy.

5. What trends in clean energy are you most excited about?

I love that so many people are becoming small-scale energy producers by investing in technologies like solar, and that we can now save energy and money through smart technologies we can run on our phones. Energy storage is an area that will also be game-changing, with potential to reduce both energy costs and emissions. Tweet This Storage is an especially important piece of the renewable energy puzzle as renewables often run intermittently, so the ability to store energy efficiently can help renewables provide power when energy demand spikes—when we all are cranking up the air conditioning during a heat wave or turning up the heat during a cold snap. Storage can also reduce our need to turn to the dirtiest resources on those days, providing environmental and climate benefits in addition to cost savings.

6. You recently moved from Concord, New Hampshire, to Charlestown, Massachusetts. How are you enjoying your new neighborhood? What have you explored thus far?

I love walking to work and using public transit, though it will be interesting once the snow flies! I’m also enjoying walking my dog in the many parks and open spaces, including the Greenway and the Fells. The HarborWalk is a real treasure, as it’s such a treat to be able to access the waterfront. Do I miss the relative quiet of Concord? Sure I do. And I’ll be back to visit often.

comments powered by Disqus