MCE Changemaker: Vicken Kasarjian

MCE Changemaker: Vicken Kasarjian

The Changemaker blog series celebrates MCE’s 10-year anniversary by recognizing the extraordinary people who support us and further our mission.

As MCE’s Chief Operating Officer, Vicken Kasarjian partners with our CEO, Dawn Weisz, to oversee MCE’s business operations. His 35 years of energy industry experience includes groundbreaking projects at the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Northern California Power Agency, and California Independent System Operator.

Vicken supports MCE’s ability to bring clean and reliable energy to our customers. We are honored to highlight Vicken Kasarjian as an MCE Changemaker for his dedication to our mission and his influential career in the energy industry.

Tell us about the solar facility that you helped negotiate at the Imperial Irrigation District.

When I worked for IID, we served an area with a significant amount of low-income families and a more than 35% unemployment rate. In partnership with the Kennedy Center, we donated land to build a 30-megawatt solar array dedicated to low-income households.

IID became the only utility in the country that had a solar development where 100% of the power was allocated to low-income families. We were able to significantly reduce their financial burden, so it’s one of the projects where I feel that I helped not only the environment but also the people who needed it most.

Why was smart grid, which you completed during your time at SMUD, an important project?

The smart grid begins with the implementation of a smart meter, which is a device that can provide specific information about a customer’s energy use. This is important because it helps us optimize our distribution to cut down on energy waste. The smart grid allows us to give customers details on what they’re doing that’s driving up their energy bill or consumption. This information gives people more choice about what energy they consume and when. It also allows us to reduce losses in the system, which keeps costs in check and rates stable.

What is your vision for the future of the California energy market?

Eventually, I see Community Choice agencies like MCE serving the majority of California’s load. California influences a lot of how the western United States operates so we can definitely be the leader in creating a green, reliable, and dependable energy grid. I envision that California and MCE together will be a lot more data dependent and much smarter in our work to ensure that we provide energy choices to everyone.

For those who are interested in making a difference in climate change, what would you want them to know?

Climate change and energy are so completely intertwined. In order for people to take action in the climate movement, it helps to get an appreciation of what happens behind the scenes when they turn on the lights. Having an appreciation for how we use electricity can help us use it in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way in our daily lives.

What is your life like outside the energy industry?

I have two daughters who are by far my biggest passion. I believe that whatever you do, you need to have something you’re passionate about that drives you to keep going, so that’s what I aim to help others find through counseling and guidance. I work at local high schools and encourage students to continue their education, whether it be technical work or getting a PhD. I also help those who are unemployed by editing their résumés, going through contracts, or even helping them do their taxes a bit.

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