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Energy 101 Intersession Series

The Energy 101 series of intersession classes provide a high level overview of the energy industry. The classes are multidisciplinary and taught from a variety of perspectives to provide breadth and context. All instructors are practitioners in the field. As a result they are invaluable for any student interested in pursuing a career in energy.

The series is divided into four condensed two and three day classes. Energy 101 is an all-encompassing introduction to Energy. Energy 102, 103 and 104 are deeper dives into specific topics. Energy 102 focuses on fossil fuels and investment banking. Energy 103 focuses on renewables, sustainable energy, law and finance. Energy 104 focuses on electricity trading and risk management. Some of the material is repeated across classes and instructors. That is by design. The overlap helps to reinforce the concepts and as well provide alternative perspectives on the same issue from sometimes opposing viewpoints. The exposure you will receive will no doubt help jump start your personal exploration into anything related to the energy industry.

There are no prerequisites including other classes in the series. Even though it is not required, we highly recommend first taking Energy 101 before taking the others. It provides breadth and context and better prepares you to learn in the other classes. Please note a majority of our students express a strong interest in renewable energy. We highly recommend taking the other courses and not just Energy 103 to fulfill your renewable energy interest. The energy markets are interconnected. Renewable energy still has to participate in the same markets as fossil fuels. You will better understand renewable energy and its limitations and advantages if you understand what it is competing with. Even though Energy 102 emphasizes fossil fuels it does cover renewable fuels. The investment banking portion of the class has applications to all types of energy finance. It just happens to emphasize fthe inancing oil and gas projects.

With the exception of Energy 104 these classes are taught by several instructors. Each instructor teaches a specific day and their section will be independent. Please note the order of the days may change at the last minute as our instructor's schedules are subject to change.

This series is more than just a course on energy. It is also a form of mentoring, career planning and placement. If you have an interest in a career in energy or possibly have an interest then these will be some of the most valuable classes you take at Hopkins. You will have direct contact with professionals in the field who can assist in making connections and give you advice. You will get a wider exposure and potential deeper understanding of energy in a way that makes you more marketable and also helps you better understand what you need to pursue to make your dreams a reality. Each year we are able to successfully help place a few students at various companies for internships and full time employment. A natural consequence of this series is we have our own Energy 101 alumni and career network. For those that are interested we send out notices of internships, jobs, career fairs, education opportunities and breaking into energy seminars throughout the year. After graduation we continue to help and mentor our graduates and they send opportunities our way when they are looking to hire.

The energy intersession series is managed by Carl Liggio. If you have questions please contact him here:

Detailed Course Descriptions

Energy 101 - Introduction to the Business and Policy of the US Energy Industry (3-day)

Day 1 and 2 - Introduction to Energy - Carl D. Liggio Jr. Ph.D.

This three-day intersession class is a multidisciplinary high-level overview of the US energy industry. Day one and two are taught by Carl Liggio. On the first day the class starts with a general introduction of energy and how it is measured and produced. You will learn the history of energy and how energy has impacted the history of the world. The class will then focus on the sourcing, production and conversion of traditional energy sources such as coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy. Much of the emphasis will be on electricity production. The day will end covering energy and resource economics, electricity markets, energy trading and risk management. The second day focuses on renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and demand response and energy and environmental policy.

Though you do not have to be an engineer to take the course you will be exposed to engineering concepts to understand the science and technologies of how we utilize energy. We will compare and contrast various competing technologies such as a natural gas power plant from a solar farm and petroleum diesel from biodiesel. You will have a better understanding of the limitations of each and why. You will learn how the different energy commodities are priced in the market and how government and international policy impacts those markets and vice versa. We will spend time talking about behavior and human action that impact our decisions in how we use energy. The class is filled with anecdotes to expand on the theory and ideas presented.

Most important to this class is the fact that competing viewpoints on energy, the environment and policy are presented to ensure that you will be exposed to the complexities of the issues impacting the industry. You will receive a very broad and unconventional approach to thinking about energy. The moral case for fossil fuels will be contrasted with moving to a 100% renewable future. State command and control will be contrasted with a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist free market approach to energy and environmental policy. You will not get your standard talking points on energy and as a result will have a very enriching experience.

Day 3 - Participating in the energy space in the United States - David Yaffe

Day three of the class focuses on applications more specific to the US Energy industry. It draws on the first two days and expands on them further and from a different perspective. It will focus on a historical overview of energy use and resources in U.S. How an energy user decides how to source their energy; who decides whether a large electric generating plant is constructed and operates; How transmission lines and pipelines are built; trading in power and gas markets; Climate and energy use. Bringing it closer to Homewood the class also discusses sustainability initiatives at Johns Hopkins and takes a field trip to the campus cogeneration plant.

More so than the other classes in this series there is a strong emphasis on career preparation. Intermixed throughout the class are tips on how to break into the industry, how to learn outside of the classroom to make yourself more marketable, how to craft your resume and how to network. Our objective is to help you be as prepared as possible for a career in energy with the limited time we have available.

Grades are determined by an in class open book test at the end of day two and a take home essay after day three.


Carl D. Liggio Jr. Ph.D. '96 '00 '00 '01 — Carl is the founder and managing partner of Pharos Enterprise Intelligence, LLC a software and consulting company focused on the commercial management of power plants. Prior to starting Pharos he was the Director of Commercial Strategy and Alternative Energy Programs for US Power Generating Company where he was responsible for managing their portfolio of power plants in New York City. He currently serves as president of the New York Association for Energy Economics. He has a bachelors, masters and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and a master's in Systems Analysis and Economics for Public Decision Making from Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering (now Environmental Health and Engineering) from Johns Hopkins. He is currently on the advisory council to the Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute. Carl was a fencer on the Men's fencing team and was the head coach of the JHU Women's fencing team in 1998 and 1999 as a graduate student.

David Yaffe '74 - David is an Adjunct professor of energy law at George Washington University Law School. He is recently retired from being a Partner at the Van Ness Feldman LLP a law and public policy firm focusing on energy, environment, natural resources, land use, water and real estate. David is currently the President of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association President and a member of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees.

Energy 102 - Traditional Energy and Investment Banking (2 day)

This two day class deep dives into the oil and natural gas industry. Even though this class does not emphasize renewable energy it is should be taken by those with an interest in renewable energy. If you have an interest in a career in investment banking and finance this class will provide an excellent introduction.

Day on Introduction to Oil - Bob Riley

This day is a deep dive introduction to the oil industry covering the entire supply chain from exploration and production, to transportation and refining. A history of the industry is covered. There is a strong emphasis on engineering and technology taught for the layman. Time will be spent discussing oil trading and policy/regulation of the industry. Biofuels and other alternative fuels that participate in the traditional energy markets will also be covered.

Grade based on an in-class quiz

Day on Energy Investment Banking  - Scott Bernstein

This day will focus on the financing energy infrastructure projects with a particular emphasis on oil and gas assets. Different corporate structures and methods of financing will be discussed. The class will provide an introduction to financial modelling and analyze specific case studies. Though the emphasis is on traditional energy projects the application and knowledge can be applied to all types of infrastructure projects including renewables. It is essentially an introduction to energy investment banking.


Scott Bernstein '97 - Scott is a Principal at Giant Star Capital LLC and Chief Financial Officer at JBL Energy Partners. Prior to that he was the Executive Vice President of Corporate Finance at Buccaneer Resources. He has led over $250 million of transactions in the energy industry with a specific focus on structured credit and asset-backed finance. In 2011, Scott led and developed the first Alaskan Oil & Gas Tax Credit receivable finance facility which served as the model for all subsequent transactions. Scott holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins and an MS in Math Finance from New York University. He was a member of the varsity football team.

Bob Riley '98 - Bob is Marketing Team Leader, Refining Technologies at W. R. Grace where he is responsible for regional marketing activities in the Americas for Grace's Fluid Catalytic Cracking business. At Grace he has held positions in technical service, sales, marketing, business development, process & quality assurance, and management. He has a BS ChE from Johns Hopkins and will complete an MBA from the University of Illinois in 2018.  He coached the JHU Wrestling team for 10 years after graduation.

Energy 103 - Financing a Sustainable World (3 day)

This three-day intersession class are three independent and related classes in one. Unique to this series is a day focused on energy law.

Day on Renewable Energy Project Finance - Guy Van Syckle

This class will walk through how investors evaluate new renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, reviewing the risks that may holdback investment and how these risks can be mitigated to drive more investment into sustainable infrastructure.  Students will have the opportunity to individually review a series of potential projects and we will work as a class to evaluate the opportunities from an investor’s perspective. Additionally, we will discuss a framework for evaluating all investments in terms of their efficacy of reducing carbon emissions per dollar of investment.

Throughout the discussion, we will work to build the students understanding of basic project finance and the broader capital markets as it relates to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.  No particular finance or math expertise is required.  With an introduction to the language of finance, we hope students realize that the investing world is governed by basic algebra dressed up with fancy words invented by bankers trying to look busy.

Grade based on a 1-2 page take home essay

Day on Climate Change Finance - Gabriel Thoumi

This class you to be taught what it is like to engage in capital markets research associated with climate change mitigation. You will be introduced to climate change – with some brief facts and figures. Then we will discuss how climate change impacts society with a focus on capital markets. From there, we will spend the rest of the day analyzing publicly traded companies – in detail – assessing their climate change risk with a focus on agriculture supply chains.

The course requires lots of interaction, quick thinking, and being able to assess complex problems – such as climate change – with imperfect information. Keys to your success in the course are an ability think on your feet, be innovative, and ground-truth your ideas with facts that are at the intersection between capital markets and climate change.

Previous students who have taken this course have succeeded in obtaining summer associate roles in investment banking and positions with international NGOs focusing on climate change mitigation. Limited pre-reading is required.

Day on Law and Renewable Energy - Nike Opadiran

This day will provide an overview of the laws and policies designed to (1) promote renewable energy development (such as federal tax credits, state renewable portfolio standards and government financing programs) and (2) regulate renewable energy projects (such as energy laws and market rules, real estate, siting and environmental laws and international trade regulations).  This class will also explore the contracts required to own, develop, operate and finance renewable energy projects and use case studies to examine the role of contract law in promoting renewable energy development and allocating commercial risks among project developers, investors, lenders and service providers.  The class will primarily focus on renewable energy development in the United States, but will also provide some case studies and comparative examples of renewable energy projects in other countries.

This course is targeted to students with an interest in law and policy and students with an interest in the business of renewable energy and an interest in the role of laws and policies in the economics of renewable energy and the role of contract law in memorializing and enforcing commercial agreements and allocating commercial risks.

No pre-reading is required.  Grade based on an in-class quiz.


Nike Opadiran - Nike Opadiran is a Counsel in Skadden's Energy & Infrastructure Projects group and concentrates her practice on the development, financing, and acquisition and divestiture of energy and infrastructure-related projects in the United States and around the world. She has broad experience across the energy industry, including experience with drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreements, financing and collateral agreements, power purchase agreements and ownership agreements for renewable energy and other power generation projects. Nike received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and graduated with distinction from University of Waterloo.

Guy Van Syckle - Guy Van Syckle has helped Hannon Armstrong (NYSE:HASI) fund over $4 billion dollars in energy efficiency, wind, and solar projects since 2012. Hannon Armstrong makes debt and equity investments exclusively in assets that reduce GHG emissions or deliver other tangible environmental benefits, such as reducing water consumption. Hannon Armstrong's investments range from a $1 million investment in solar at a California shopping center to a $20 million investment in efficient lighting and cooling at a Florida veteran's hospital to a $100 million investment in a portfolio of wind farms. Guy has also led environmental reporting efforts, developing and implementing a methodology that evaluates all Hannon Armstrong investments in terms of metric tons of CO2 annually offset per $1,000 invested. Guy graduated with Honors with a B.A. in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability from Johns Hopkins University, where he was also a member of the varsity lacrosse team. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, FRM Expert with 20 years' career in finance with the majority as an ESG investment research manager enabling financial systems to empower people, protect the planet, and generate profit. Leads research team integrating financial and ESG data as an indicator of corporate financial performance, primarily focusing on how companies can make money, do good, and mitigate climate change. Writes weekly detailed global markets analyses published by various financial media read by more than 4,000 financial analysts. Experience in debt and equity investment analysis, agriculture supply chains, risk management, energy markets, supply chains, CSR, SRI, and C-Suite negotiation. Global coverage includes financials, materials, energy, utilities, agriculture, and consumer staples. Worked in 25 countries. Sits on numerous NGO boards and supervisory roles for the Mid-Atlantic on sustainable development, environment and energy conservation.  Enjoys mountaineering, ocean sailing, and history.

Energy 104 - Electricity Markets, Trading and Risk Management (2 day)

This two-day intersession class introduces the student to complex electricity markets and allows them to experience trading through live in-class simulations. The course alternates between lectures and electricity market games that illustrate the underlying drivers of the evolution of power markets. This allows for a more intuitive understanding of how markets have evolved into their current structure.

Lectures on the second day will focus on the current market structures and the key players in these markets such as load serving entities, generators, utilities, and the Independent System Operator (market administer). There will be significant in-class team participation. A senior guest speaker will provide their perspective on these markets followed by Q&A.

This class is tailored for those interested in learning about electricity and trading markets. There is a technological component to the class as power generation technologies as well as grid power flows will be discussed. For those interested in business the class will discuss market incentives and cover the various power and fuel commodities. This is a must for anyone interested in policy as policy and markets are intertwined. Time will be spent discussing regulation versus deregulation of electricity markets.

Grading is 10% Pre-course assignment, 10% Mid-course quiz, 40% Final exam, 40% In-class participation.

A laptop with a working internet connection is required.

Instructor is Lori Simpson.

Lori Simpson is a senior trader at Constellation Energy, an Exelon Company where she manages the risk of a portfolio consisting of 1,000s of megawatts of power plants and load.  Over her ten years of experience she has traded power, natural gas, and ancillary services.  She advises the regulatory team on market improvements in ERCOT, including aspects of the design of the ERCOT nodal market.  Prior to Constellation she traded transmission rights at DC Energy.  While receiving her masters in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT (’06), she wrote the India recommendations for the MIT Coal Study on coal gasification development pathways.  She earned bachelor degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Spanish from the University of Nebraska Lincoln ’03.  She still holds her high school’s record for pole vault in Lincoln, Nebraska.