Meet Kaitlin Kelly O’Neill
Northeast Regional Director, Coalition for Community Solar Access
Prior to joining the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), Kaitlin worked for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resource in their Renewables Division, managing the solar incentive programs for the state. She also worked for the Massachusetts Legislature in the state Senate as a legislative aide for many years. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Connecticut and her M.A. from Tufts University in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Q: How did you get your start in the Renewable Energy industry?
A: During grad school, I ended up working on a couple of projects that focused on renewable energy funding structures, and I was immediately interested. I knew this was what I wanted to focus my career on. After completing my graduate degree, I got hired by the MA Department of Energy Resources. I ended up working on the solar incentive programs, and that has been my main focus ever since.
Q: Since then, have you seen a shift in female representation in Renewable Energy?
A: It is still a male dominated field, but I do see companies working hard to promote the many brilliant women working in this industry.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the industry?
A: I’m proud to be a woman in this industry. I see so many women dedicated to these issues, and to reach our broader goals will require hard work from everyone.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of working in an industry as booming, and vital, as Renewable Energy?
A: Renewable Energy is such an exciting field to be in. Just the pace at which policies are changing, technology is improving, and markets are growing is amazing. I love working on such interesting questions every day that are also helping to address the ever growing threat of climate change.
Q: What advice would you give to young professionals coming up in the field?
A: Talk to as many people as you can, even those who do not work on issues directly related to your interests. This industry is growing so much that there is always an opportunity to learn something new.
Q: What do you hope will be the future of Renewable Energy?
A: I hope that this industry continues to grow in the coming decades. There is still so much to do to ensure that we can transition to carbon free fuels. So much progress has been made in the last ten years and I hope that we see that progress increase exponentially in the next ten years.
Q: Environmental sustainability is at the core of your work – What are some simple, sustainable practices you apply on a regular basis and would like to see the general public adopt and integrate into their daily lives?
A: I’m really trying to cut down on single use plastic. I have these reusable Ziploc bags, and also beeswax paper to use in place of plastic wrap. I’m really trying to cut down on as much waste as possible.