Former CEO of NYSERDA and Mass. Clean Energy Center,
accomplished energy and environmental leader
BURLINGTON, Mass., July 15, 2020–FirstLight Power, operator of the Northfield Mountain energy storage facility and other hydroelectric, solar, and energy-storage assets in Massachusetts and Connecticut, has named Alicia Barton its new chief executive officer, effective Aug. 3.
Ms. Barton served most recently as President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for three years and previously as CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), helping both states advance and implement nation-leading clean energy strategies. She also co-chaired the Energy and Cleantech Practice at the leading Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP and served as chief of operations for SunEdison’s global utility business unit, leading teams building utility-scale wind and solar projects.
“I am honored and excited to be joining FirstLight as its CEO at this pivotal moment in our efforts to accelerate our transition to a 100 percent clean electric grid as a central element of the strategy to combat the climate crisis,’’ Ms. Barton said. “I have spent my entire career dedicated to fighting climate change and building a clean energy future. FirstLight as a company, and Northfield Mountain as our region’s largest zero-emissions energy storage facility, are uniquely positioned to drive accelerated deployment of renewable energy and storage on the New England electric grid.’’
Studies by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources/Levitan & Associates have identified a critical need for large-scale energy storage of the kind Northfield Mountain provides to harness fully the economic and environmental benefits of the gigawatts of offshore wind now under development off the coast of New England.
FirstLight board chair Phil Giudice said: “Alicia Barton is one of the most accomplished and admired leaders in the field of clean energy in the United States. We are excited and grateful that she’s agreed to join FirstLight as our new CEO to lead FirstLight’s efforts to accelerate our transition to a decarbonized energy future, harnessing the full potential of offshore wind, solar, and electrification of our transportation and fossil-based end uses.”
At NYSERDA, Ms. Barton oversaw the execution of long-term contracts for more than 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind and other new renewable energy resources, was a key architect of New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and served as Co-Chair of the New York Climate Action Council.
Ms. Barton will succeed John R. Shue, who has been CEO of FirstLight since 2016 and is retiring after leading the company through its launch as an independent company and into successful new energy-storage and solar power developments.
“On behalf of all his colleagues at FirstLight, I want to thank John for his steady, wise leadership and building our strong executive team which has delivered strong operational and financial results. I congratulate John for his decades of experience in the energy industries and wish him well in his retirement,’’ Mr. Giudice said.
Ms. Barton added: “For years I’ve appreciated FirstLight’s century-long record of providing clean and reliable hydropower to New England and its stewardship of tremendous natural resources and recreational facilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. I look forward to building on our strong relationship with all the communities we serve.’’
Energy industry, environmental, and civic leaders throughout the region are praising FirstLight’s selection of Ms. Barton as CEO:
— Elizabeth Henry, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said: “Alicia Barton has a profoundly deep commitment to accelerating our transition to a clean energy future. Her decades of leadership on behalf of the people of Massachusetts and then New York proved time and again that fighting climate change can and should drive economic growth and opportunity. ELM looks forward to working with Barton in the race to decarbonize New England’s energy grid.”
— Rick Sullivan, President and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, said: “I am thrilled that Alicia is coming back to Massachusetts to continue her leadership of our clean energy revolution. Alicia is a true professional dedicated to the environment and clean energy innovation and deployment. Her honesty, integrity, commitment to community and civic engagement and superior management skills are why she has risen quickly through important leadership positions. I look forward to working, again, with Alicia on issues of clean energy and improving the Western Massachusetts economy.”
— Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America, said: “Alicia’s career-long focus on addressing climate change through leadership positions in the public and private sector makes this move to First Light a natural next step. Personally, I find her dedication to this mission inspiring. It makes me feel more optimistic about our ability to fight climate change to have her at the helm at FirstLight, a company dedicated to delivering clean energy to the New England electric grid.”
— Ken Kimmell, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “I have had the pleasure of working with Alicia for seven years during our service in the administration of Governor Deval Patrick, and I have seen firsthand that she is an extraordinary leader. If we are to tackle the climate crisis, we need leaders like Alicia–leaders who are bold and innovative and have a proven track record of inspiring and directing the transition to clean energy at the pace and scale that is needed in this moment.”
— Added David Cash, Dean and Associate Professor of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston: “Alicia is one of those rare clean energy leaders who combines ambitious vision with detailed policy and legal knowledge about how to get clean energy on the grid. At this time of urgent need to transform our energy system to be carbon-neutral, Alicia will be the perfect CEO of FirstLight to launch it into its next phase of clean energy industry leadership.”
In addition to her roles at NYSERDA, MassCEC, Foley Hoag, and SunEdison, Ms. Barton has served as Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP); Assistant Secretary for Environmental Review and Director of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office; and Deputy General Counsel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).
Ms. Barton currently serves on the boards of several leading non-profit and mission-based organizations, including the Alliance to Save Energy, Greentown Labs, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, Efficiency Forward, and the Advisory Board for the New England Women in Energy and Environment (NEWIEE). She earned her juris doctor from Boston College Law School and bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University.
ABOUT FIRSTLIGHT POWER
FirstLight’s mission is to provide safe and affordable energy solutions leading to a cleaner, more reliable energy future. We are dedicated to being conscientious stewards promoting a greener environment in our communities. Based in Burlington, Mass., with operating offices in Northfield, Mass. and New Milford, Conn., FirstLight operates a diversified electric-generation portfolio including hydroelectric, pumped-storage hydro, battery storage, and solar. FirstLight also provides, under our federal operating licenses, stewardship of and recreational access to 14,000 acres of land and waters along the Connecticut, Housatonic, Shetucket, Still, and Quinebaug Rivers.
Read more about FirstLight and Alicia Barton in this Boston Business Journal article