20 Under 40: Kristen Taddonio wants to energize her community
Increasing the public interest in energy efficiency is no easy task, but Fraser local Kristen Taddonio is passionate about advocating for renewable energy and energizing her community around the topic.
Taddonio began her career at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program before moving to the U.S. Department of Energy to develop innovative energy technologies. Outside of her profession, Taddonio also uses her expertise to help those in the community through her position on the Mountain Parks Electric Green Energy Advisory Committee and volunteer work.
“Kristen is working with a Solar Decathlon team of students from the University of Colorado to build a sustainable home in Fraser, with a goal of developing a replicable model for mountain communities,” her nomination read.
Name: Kristen Taddonio
Profession: Senior advisor for climate and energy.
Education: Master’s Degree in Science and Technology Policy from George Washington University 2006
Bachelor’s degree International Relations 2003
Associate Degrees in Scientific and Technical Communication and Spanish, 2000 and 2001.
Place of Employment:
Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.
What problem would you like to solve?
That’s easy! I’d like to increase awareness about the amazing transformation taking place in the world of energy: prices for renewable energy have dropped so much that in many places, like Colorado, it saves utilities money to obtain electricity from renewable sources compared to fossil fuels.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sitting on the porch and enjoying the sunset from the Fraser Solar Decathlon Competition House, designed by CU Boulder, which my husband and I are fortunate to be sponsoring. The student-led team will complete their designs this fall and construction begins in 2020.
Who’s your hero and why?
I draw inspiration from many of the amazing people I’ve been introduced to here in Grand County. I look up to locals like Jessica Klabak, who gave me a new appreciation for the word “endurance” when she became one of the first-ever female finishers of the grueling High Lonesome 100 mile ultra marathon last year; like Kate Bierbaum, who is paving the way for women leaders in tech; and like Liz McIntyre, who started the Mountain Parks Electric green power program, and also happens to be an Olympic silver medalist.
What is it about your generation that sets it apart?
A willingness to embrace new technologies, and an acceptance of the rapid pace of technology change: we grew up with computers and the internet and saw them mature and evolve as we, too, were maturing and evolving. I think we might have an easier time adapting to technology change in today’s world as a result.
Why did you choose Grand County?
Because I thought it was the very best place to live in Colorado. I’m serious. I did the homework: I visited many different parts of Colorado in search of the ideal combination of clean air and water, amazing recreation, excellent local amenities, and accessibility for work. Grand County has it all.
How do you like to play in Grand County?
Outside, of course! Like many here, I enjoy skiing and mountain biking. I used to sail competitively in the past and would like to get into sailing on Grand Lake in the future, too.
What kind of future do you see for your industry in Grand County?
Energy efficiency and renewable energy have a bright future in Grand County. Solar is booming and our cold climate and high altitude is actually ideal for it, since solar panels produce more energy when they’re cold and at higher elevations. More companies are starting to extend services for smaller systems here, and Mountain Parks Electric is planning some new installations too. Energy efficiency upgrades create local jobs and also have great potential in Grand County.
If you could change one thing about Grand County, what would it be?
I’d focus on creating a welcoming environment for researchers and innovators. We have such an amazing network of talented innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs locally and in this state; I’d love to see more of that centered here.
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