The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month.
As part of the series we interviewed Robin Weis, Economic Development Director at Southwest Regional Development Commission, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?
Robin is the Economic Development Director at the Southwest Regional Development Commission and the Program Director of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) through the Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB). RMEB is a Joint Powers Board (JPB) that covers 18 counties in southwest/south central Minnesota.
How did you get into this work?
PACE was set up basically as a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency projects, and since the SRDC already operated a successful RLF for business acquisition, expansion, etc., PACE fit in with my workload nicely. The first PACE loan thru the RMEB closed in August 2014.
What is a typical day like for you?
Variety is something I enjoy and my position certainly has a lot of that. Each day is different. One day I could be out of the office with current or potential clients and another in the office assisting businesses, agricultural producers and non-profits with questions and application assistance over the phone and via walk-ins. The RMEB PACE program currently remains a pilot project to gauge the interest in financing needs for energy efficiency projects, therefore, there is a fair amount of reporting required to document energy savings, cost of improvements, etc.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to assist a business, agricultural producer and/or non-profit with their bottom line and to connect them with resources that they were not aware of. The worst part of my job is not being able to find a resource to fit the project they are proposing.
What about your job inspires you?
It feels good to help a property owner improve their bottom line by making improvements to their lighting, heating, cooling, insulation, etc. PACE promotes growth in the clean energy sector which creates and/or sustains employment for our local businesses and improves our economy.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?
Now is a great time to learn more and work within the clean energy sector. Renewable energy has so many benefits, including but not limited to environmental benefits. This sector continues to expand and improve. There is a need for more qualified energy auditors in this area. If this is a possibility, I would encourage more to become qualified as the need is certainly there.
Economic Development Director
Robin is the Economic Development Director at the Southwest Regional Development Commission in Slayton. In this capacity, she facilitates regional economic development initiatives and administers several revolving loan funds, including the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program thru the Rural MN Energy Board. Weis came into the position with extensive experience in forming collaborations, strengthening capacity and generating support for new or expanding initiatives. Previously, Robin was the Program Development Director for the MN River Area Agency on Aging where she also facilitated several regional workgroups and committees. She holds B.A. from Southwest Minnesota State University.
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The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries during Women’s History Month.