Dan Rebhan (BA '17) submits this field report from his summer 2016 internship in public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, DC.
This summer, I spent my time in Washington, DC as a public affairs intern at the American Wind Energy Association. I had just completed Professor Daniel Raimi’s course, “Oil and Gas Policy in the United States,” which had inspired me to find an internship in the energy sector. Within my first week as an intern, I quickly realized Professor Raimi’s course had greatly prepared me to work at AWEA. His curriculum gave me a grasp on the current state of renewable energy and how it fit into the larger energy sector. This allowed me to dive right into my assigned project.
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I was tasked with surveying wind energy developers across the nation to learn about how they battle misinformation, public opposition, and poor policy environments at the local, state, and national level.
The potential and expectations for wind energy are staggering. For example, wind energy’s contribution to the power grid is expected to quadruple by 2030. Combined with the fact that the cost to install new wind energy projects has fallen by 66 percent in the last five years, the wind energy industry is on the cusp of massive development. My project collected important information that could help wind energy developers understand how they can meet the enormous future demand.
My experience at the AWEA office in DC was a direct extension of Professor Raimi’s class. Time spent interacting with coworkers, talking to wind energy developers from all 50 states, presenting to U.S. respresentatives and staffers on Capitol Hill, and touring a wind farm in Pennsylvania were experiences that could not be taught in a classroom. However, the Ford School was with me every step of the way. On top of using the knowledge I had gained from my classes, I lived and spent my free time with Ford School classmates, worked with Rob Gramlich (son of former Ford School dean, Ned Gramlich), and, of course, had the financial support from the Ford School that allowed me to have this experience in the first place.
Interning for the AWEA was a meaningful experience. I’m excited to use the knowledge and skills I gained as I enter my senior year as a Ford School student and as I eventually enter my professional career post-graduation.
Dan Rebhan grew up in Holland, MI and has been a part of two political campaigns in the state of Michigan. Last summer, he interned abroad in Turkey. His policy interests also include international trade policy.