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Ombudsmen Program

Tria Case, the University Director of Sustainability established the NYSolar Smart program in 2006 and received initial support for the NYC Solar Ombudsmen program in 2010, with expansion across New York State and the addition of DG Ombudsman in 2013.

Tria leads the Ombudsman program. The Solar Ombudsmen focus on streamlining the process of going solar, and the DG Ombudsman work on battery storage. Together they work to reduce the soft costs by leading the Working Groups as part of Federal, State and City initiatives. Additionally, the Ombudsmen serve as resources to installers, municipalities, utilities and end users. 

The overall goal of Federal, State and City initiatives is for the cost of ‘going solar’ to achieve ‘grid parity’ without incentives, as the incentives will eventually sunset. Ideally, the resulting soft cost reductions match the phasing out of incentive programs so the solar market continues to grow, along with the jobs that come with it. Contact a NY Ombudsman

Michael Bowes 

NY DG Ombudsman, Associate Engineer

Michael is a DG Ombudsman and Associate Engineer at Sustainable CUNY's Smart Distributed Generation Hub, leading efforts to advance energy storage growth in New York City. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, Michael has experience with energy storage and electric rate modeling from his time at the New York Power Authority, as well as experience in the energy efficiency sector.  Much of his free time is spent playing music, as well as training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Bennett Carlin, P.E.

Administrative Superintendent

Prior to joining Sustainable CUNY’s Solar Team, Mr. Carlin’s 37 year career included serving in both the public and private sectors as a senior engineer and project management specialist. His background in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems includes design, quality assurance, field technical services, and energy conservation analysis.

Daniella Leifer

NY DG Ombudsman

Daniella is the project manager of the NYSolar Smart DG Hub-Resilient Solar project, leading efforts under a Dept. of Energy Solar Market Pathways grant to identify best practices for integrating solar+storage/resilient PV into emergency and resilience planning in NYC; streamline costs and reduce barriers to market growth of distributed energy and energy storage; and leverage results to NYS and beyond through the development of tools, planning documents, and educational resources.  Prior to joining Sustainable CUNY’s DG Hub, Daniella worked in the energy efficiency sector developing and implementing workforce training programs city-wide.  Daniella holds an MBA from the Baruch College Zicklin School of Business and BS degree in Environmental Studies from Cornell University. 

Derric Meister

NY Solar Ombudsman

Derric is working with the NYSolar Smart Distributed Generation Hub on permitting, interconnection, and zoning and planning issues in NYC, as well as supporting the NY-Sun PV Trainers Network across NY State. Before joining Sustainable CUNY, Derric worked at the forefront of the huge growth in the solar market as a residential engineering manager and solar tech. He has designed and worked on hundreds of projects in various states throughout the northeast, from as small as a few kilowatts to over a megawatt . Derric is a LEED AP with a background in architecture, and is committed to advancing sustainable technology and design ideas at large.

William Oberkehr

NY Solar Ombudsman

Bill leads the Shared Solar NYC Program on behalf of the NYC Solar Partnership. Additionally, Bill is the lead content developer and presenter for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ Renewable Energy 101 courses. Prior to his NYC focus, Bill worked on a broad range of solar policy issues throughout New York State as Sustainable CUNY’s lead implementer of the PV Trainers Network. Through this program he regularly provided one-on-one technical assistance to municipal officials across the state, trained local government officials and representatives on topics ranging from municipal solar procurement and community solar to smart solar zoning policies. In addition to policy and program work, Bill led and assisted several solar group purchasing campaigns including NY Solar Smart SunShares, Solarize Huntington and Solarize Brooklyn CB6. Bill comes to Sustainable CUNY from The Solar Foundation where he was a Program Associate, handling communications work and assisting with the inaugural Solar on Schools report and the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership. Bill has an M.A. in Public Policy from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from SUNY College at Old Westbury. When Bill is not in the office, you can find him writing or recording music in his home, swimming in the ocean or getting some fresh air at a local park.

Ronald Reisman

NY Solar Ombudsmen

Ron works on Sustainable CUNY's effort to support the New York City Housing Authority’s program to install solar on the rooftops and parking lots of public housing developments throughout the five boroughs, as well as the Solarize NYC program. Prior to joining the Sustainable CUNY team, Ron was the Renewable Energy Program Manager for New Jersey's Clean Energy Program and Manager of Business Outreach for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' Office of the Business Energy Ombudsman. He also served as Director of Communications for Elizabethtown Gas Company in New Jersey. A graduate of Rutgers University, Ron spends his non-working hours enjoying the many cultural and entertainment offerings in New York City.

Emily Sweeney

NYC Solar Ombudsmen

 Emily leads the Solarize NYC Program of the NYC Solar Partnership.  Prior to joining the team at Sustainable CUNY, she developed her knowledge of the solar industry while working for an installer, with a focus on residential and small-commercial projects in NYC.  Emily has been involved in permitting well over 100+ solar installations in NYC as a NYC DOB Filing Representative, and understands the challenges unique to installing solar in the city.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science & Psychology from Vassar College, and is a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional.