Utilities Advisory Commission

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Purpose

The Utilities Advisory Commission (UAC) is charged with providing advice on acquisition, development and financial review of electric, gas and water resources; joint action projects with other public or private entities which involve electric, gas or water resources; environmental implications of proposed electric, gas or water utility projects; and conservation and demand management. Additionally, the UAC is charged with providing advice on the acquisition, development and financial review of the dark fiber network and wastewater collection utilities. As a highly regulated industry, there may be matters not listed below that will be presented to the UAC in accordance with current or future (local, state or federal) legislative requirements.

Meet the Commission

The Utilities Advisory Commission is composed of seven members who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Council. The term of office of each member shall be three years or until their successor is appointed. Six members of the Commission shall at all times be residents of the City.

Commissioners and Biographies

Chair: Lisa Forssell

Vice Chair: Lauren Segal

Council Liaison: Council Member Eric Filseth

Staff Liaison:  Dean Batchelor, Utilities Director, (650) 496-6981

Commissioners:

BOWIE, John

Commissioner John Bowie

Term Expires: 5/31/2024

John lives in Palo Alto with his family, as a working dad supporting his wife through her medical residency at Stanford University Hospital. As a young professional family, they live through the challenges tenants face approaching sustainability and energy choices. 

John’s background spans law and policy, grid modernization, transportation electrification, technology, hazard mitigation, and climate adaptation. He brings a varied tool set to every problem including deep research and writing skills, and an understanding of legal and regulatory processes. John works as a consultant in public engagement and outreach.

FORSSELL, Lisa

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Term Expires: 5/31/2023

Lisa Forssell has served on the Utilities Advisory Commission since 2016.

Lisa lives in Palo Alto with her family. Their roof sports a 3.6 kW solar system that helps power their home and electric vehicles. Lisa has served on the PTA and has been an active participant in community sustainability events over the years.

Lisa worked at Pixar Animation Studios from 1995-2012 as a technical director and senior manager. She returned to graduate school in 2012 to pursue an MBA and an MS from the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, receiving both degrees in 2015. Her masters project was a study of the effects of electric vehicle charging on the power grid.

Lisa is a producer in the design studio at Apple. She also holds a BS and MS in Computer Science. 

 JOHNSTON, A. C.

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Term Expires: 5/31/2022

Cell:  (650) 823-5561

 A.C. Johnston has been a lawyer in Palo Alto for over 30 years.  He was the founder and served for two terms as the managing partner of the Palo Alto office of Morrison & Foerster LLP.   His law practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, particularly patent infringement and trade secret litigation, for electronics, laser diode, and semiconductor companies.  He has also worked with alternative energy producers, particularly co-generation facilities and wind farms, in negotiating power purchase agreements with utilities and in regulatory proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

In addition to the Utilities Advisory Commission, he serves on the Palo Alto Sustainability/Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) Citizen’s Advisory Committee.  He has previously served on the board of directors of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services and in the U.S. Navy as an officer aboard a diesel-electric submarine.

A.C. and his wife have lived in Palo Alto since 1990.

METZ, Phil

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Term Expires: 5/31/2024

Phil Metz is a newly-appointed member of the Utilities Advisory Commission starting in June, 2021.  He and his family have resided in Palo Alto for over 30 years.  Phil serves Palo Alto as an Emergency Services Volunteer, both as a Block Preparedness Coordinator (BPC) and as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member. 

Professionally, Phil is focused on developing and applying scientifically-grounded tools for advancing environmental sustainability and mitigating climate change.  As co-founder and a Director of the BioPhysical Economics Institute (BPEI), Phil is working to advance BPEI’s mission of bringing the natural sciences into the practice of economics and financial decision-making. 

Phil is expert across a range of energy markets including building energy systems, renewables, energy storage, and electric utility / grid-scale energy systems. 

Phil’s professional experience includes VP-level marketing and sales leadership roles with revenue and P/L responsibility; Director-level management consulting on technological innovation, business strategy and energy; and a stint as a Research Fellow with Project Drawdown.  Phil holds a PhD in physics and MBA in marketing.  He is an avid road biker.  

SCHARFF, Greg

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Term Expires: 5/31/2022

Biography not available. 

SEGAL, Lauren

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Term Expires: 5/31/2023

Biography not available. 

SMITH, Loren

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Term Expires: 5/31/2022

Loren was appointed to the Utilities Advisory Commission in June 2019. He enjoys volunteering for the community and has previously served as a Community Fellow for the Cubberley Community Center Master Planning initiative as well as the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC).

Loren is a Construction Program Manager and has delivered planning, design, program, project and cost management services for large property developers and owner occupiers in the United States and Asia Pacific over his 30-year career. His interest in serving the Palo Alto community in this capacity stems from his historical experience in telecommunications where, in addition to assisting a regional telecommunications company in the Midwest, he served as General Manager of a Hong Kong-based telecommunications service provider delivering commercial and consumer broadband services through fiber and wireless services.

Loren has post-graduate studies in the field of Civil Engineering from CalPoly, San Luis Obispo and a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and resides in Palo Alto with his wife and son.

Contact the Commission

Contact the Commission by email.

The Utilities Advisory Commission (UAC) appreciates hearing from citizens and your email will be forwarded to all seven Commissioners.

Correspondence received by noon on the day of the UAC meeting, relating to an Item on the Agenda, will be put at the Commissioner's places at the meeting. See Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) Sections 2.16 and 2.23 for more information on the Utilities Advisory Commission.

Be advised that your email to the UAC is a public record and your correspondence should not include any private information (such as home address or minor children's names) that you might not want the general public to have access to. If your email is regarding a specific agenda item for an upcoming meeting, your email will be available for public inspection at the meeting. 

We thank you in advance for taking the time to share your comments!

Upcoming Meetings

UAC meetings occur regularly on the first Wednesday of every month.

Watch and Participate in Meetings

Meetings are broadcast live online and on cable TV.

Members of the public who wish to participate in meetings can find instructions on the top and bottom of individual agendas or by viewing the drop-down titled "How to Participate in UAC Meetings." To ensure participation in a particular item we suggest calling in or connecting 15 minutes before your item is scheduled to begin.

Instructions: How to Participate in UAC Meetings

Members of the Public may provide public comments to teleconference meetings via email, teleconference, or by phone.

Consult the relevant meeting agenda for phone number and online link to participate in meetings. 

  1. Written public comments may be submitted by email to UAC@CityofPaloAlto.org
  2. Spoken public comments using a computer will be accepted through the teleconference meeting. To address the Commission, click on the link below for the appropriate meeting to access a Zoom-based meeting. Please read the following instructions carefully.
    1. You may download the Zoom client or connect to the meeting by web browser. If using your browser, make sure you are using a current, up-to-date browser: Chrome 30 , Firefox 27 , Microsoft Edge 12 , Safari 7 . Certain functionality may be disabled in older browsers including Internet Explorer.
    2. You will be asked to enter an email address and name. We request that you identify yourself by name as this will be visible online and will be used to notify you that it is your turn to speak.
    3. When you wish to speak on an agenda item, click on “raise hand”. The moderator will activate and unmute attendees in turn. Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. The Zoom application will prompt you to unmute your microphone when it is your turn to speak.
    4. When called, please limit your remarks to the time limit allotted.
    5. A timer will be shown on the computer to help keep track of your comments.
  • Spoken public comments using a smart phone will be accepted through the teleconference meeting. To address the Commission, download the Zoom application onto your phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and enter the Meeting ID below. Please follow instructions B-E above.
  • Spoken public comments using a phone use the telephone number listed below. When you wish to speak on an agenda item hit *9 on your phone so we know that you wish to speak. You will be asked to provide your first and last name before addressing the Commission. You will be advised how long you have to speak. When called please limit your remarks to the agenda item and time limit allotted.

Join Zoom here:  https://zoom.us/join

Meeting ID:  966 9129 7246

Phone number: 1 (669) 900-6833 (you may need to exclude the initial “1” depending on your phone service)

Resources

Apply for the UAC

The City continuously accepts applications for Boards and Commissions. Apply to serve on the Utilities Advisory Commission.