Asee peer logo

The Role of Engineers as Policy Entrepreneurs toward Energy Transformations

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Diverse Issues in Renewable Energy

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Efrain O'Neill-Carrillo University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

visit author page

Efraín O'Neill-Carrillo is a professor of power engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM). He holds a Ph.D. (Arizona State), an M.S.E.E. (Purdue), and a B.S.E.E. (UPRM). His professional interests include energy policy, sustainable energy, distributed generation, power quality, social and ethical implications of engineering, and technology. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. O’Neill-Carrillo was the founding Director (2007-2010) of the Institute for Tropical Energy, Environment, and Society, leading a group of 15 professors from 10 disciplines in establishing links between energy research and society while influencing energy policy in Puerto Rico ( O’Neill-Carrillo was also the Education Coordinator at UPRM for the NSF’s Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) from 2000-2008. He was Associate Director, CIVIS: Center for Resources in General Education, assisting in the administration of the Center, as well as developing student learning modules (sustainability, ethics), a sustainable energy initiative and coordinating the interaction and work of professors from various disciplines in UPRM (2008-2013). He has been energy Advisor for city governments and state agencies in Puerto Rico. O'Neill was Senior Advisor to the Governor of Puerto Rico on Energy (2013-2014). He is one of the authors of the study “Achievable Renewable Energy Targets for Puerto Rico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard,” presenting the potential of renewable energy in Puerto Rico ( He is also very active in the energy policy debate in Puerto Rico, authoring “Una Nueva AEE,” a Spanish document that traces the history of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, presenting potential reforms to the Island’s electric system ( O’Neill-Carrillo is a founding member of the Puerto Rico Electric Energy Round Table, a multi-sector group that works on technical and policy alternatives for the future of Puerto Rico’s electric system, acting as the Group Coordinator from 2008 to 2010. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, an ABET Program Evaluator and a registered Professional Engineer. His views and work on integrative research and education activities, and his professional service have earned O’Neill-Carrillo UPRM’s Outstanding ECE Professor of the Year Award (twice), the Distinguished Electrical Engineer of the Year Award from the CIAPR in May 2004, an Early Promotion to Full Professor from UPRM in Nov. 2004, and the IEEE/PES Walter Fee Outstanding Young Engineer Award in June 2005.

visit author page


Agustin Irizarry-Rivera P.E. University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

visit author page

Agustín Irizarry-Rivera is professor of electric power engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM). He holds a Ph.D. (Iowa State), an M.S.E.E. (Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor), and a B.S.E.E. (UPRM). He conducts research in the topic of renewable energy and how to adapt the existing power grid to add more of these resources in our energy portfolio. He has served as Consultant on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to Puerto Rico’s Government agencies, municipalities, private developers and consulting firms in and outside Puerto Rico. He has also served as expert witness in civil court cases involving electric hazard, shock or electrocution. He is author or coauthor of over 40 refereed publications including two book chapters. A licensed professional engineer in Puerto Rico since 1991 and member of IEEE he has organized local and international conferences such as the Tenth International Conference on Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems (PMAPS 2008) in Rincón, Puerto Rico. Dr. Irizarry-Rivera has received several awards and honors: Distinguished Engineer 2013 from Puerto Rico’s Professional Engineers Society (CIAPR) and Distinguished Electrical Engineer 2005 from the Electrical Engineering Institute of CIAPR in recognition of services rendered to the profession and outstanding professional achievements in electrical engineering, the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award from UPRM Alumni Association, the 2004 Professional Progress in Engineering Award from Iowa State University, in recognition of outstanding professional progress and personal development in engineering as evidenced by significant contributions to the theory and practice of engineering, distinguished service rendered to the profession, appropriate community service, and/or achievement in a leadership position and the 2003-2004 ECE Outstanding Faculty Award from UPRM’s School of Engineering. In May 2012 he was elected, by the consumers, to the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, in the first election of this kind in Puerto Rico, to represent the interests of consumers. He was President of the Board’s Audit Committee and an active member of the Engineering and Infrastructure, Legal and Labor Affairs and Consumer’s Affairs Committees. In 2013 Board Members elected him Vice President of the Board and he served in this capacity until September 2014 when his term expired.

visit author page


Cecilio Ortiz University of Puerto Rico-INESI

visit author page

Dr. Cecilio Ortiz Garcia is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. He holds a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs and specializes in issue related to the public administration of natural resources and the environment, energy policy and governance and the social acceptance of renewable energy technologies. Dr. Ortiz is also a member of the Steering Committee and co-founder of the National Institute of Energy and Island Sustainability of the University of Puerto Rico (INESI).

visit author page


Marla D. Perez-Lugo University of Puerto Rico, Mayguez Campus

visit author page

Marla D. Perez-Lugo is an environmental sociologist at University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). Her research focuses on environmental justice and public participation issues related to the design and implementation of renewable energy projects in Puerto Rico. She is currently a member of the steering committee of the National Institute of Energy and Island Sustainability of the UPR system.

visit author page

Download Paper |


In the early 1990’s engineering professors at the University (name left out intentionally) began broadening their scope of actions by actively promoting and supporting novel and alternative energy options within professional societies, and among policy makers and government officials (local and state). This paper presents recent efforts and the progression of the involvement of two engineering professors in policy creation and evaluation using sustainable energy as the focus. Collaborations with colleagues from the Social Sciences were indispensable as well as the creation of a university energy institute. The discussion begins with a description of a traditional university-based consulting effort for a state agency that had key participation from graduate students. Courses on energy policy and social/ethical issues delivered to graduate and undergraduate students are described, including a synchronous web delivery of the policy course to law students. This energy policy entrepreneurship was taken to the real world with the creation and leadership of a multi-sector energy roundtable, through renewable energy projects in communities and participation in energy-related public hearings with undergraduate students. Two engineering professors delved in the energy policy process even further with their participation in the governing board of the state electric utility and as advisors to the Governor. All these policy actions from engineering professors and students played a key role in the passing of a comprehensive electric sector reform in May 2014. The paper also presents university education efforts (supported by a DOE grant) that provide the electric sector workforce and stakeholders with tools and knowledge needed to implement the reform mandated by law. The paper concludes with lessons learned by these policy experiences, including a reflection on the background required for effective energy policymaking participation, as well as results from an assessment instrument used once the professors returned to the university.

O'Neill-Carrillo, E., & Irizarry-Rivera, A., & Ortiz, C., & Perez-Lugo, M. D. (2016, June), The Role of Engineers as Policy Entrepreneurs toward Energy Transformations Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27008

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015