Some consider 13 to be unlucky, but we at the NEED Project and Department of Energy know better, as this was the 13th year for EISP!

Each year, Energy Information Administration (EIA) employees are invited to join a program partnered with The NEED Project called Energy Industry Study Program (EISP) and gain insight into various facets of the energy sector. This year’s attendees were especially exciting to have participate in the program because all of them had been working with the EIA for less than a year.

Below are the highlights from our 10 weeks together!


  • October 13th, 2016, Kevin Galligan from Cape Light Compact, kicked off the first get together by discussing energy efficiency and energy infrastructure. The participants took an energy myth buster quiz and engaged in a discussion of how policy and clean energy/energy conservation tends to be easier to pass and excites communities when costs are up, but when costs are low, it can be much harder to do so.  Kevin also shared how Massachusetts has edged out California as the most energy-efficient state, thanks in part to grid modernization and shared with us some of the state’s energy saving innovations. Participants also got to see a video of a behind the scenes look at pipeline construction.
  • The first tour of the EISP Program had our attendees visiting Mount Storm, West Virginia to gain a better understanding of coal and wind.  They were given a tour at Mount Storm Power Station where they gained an overview of how coal plants work and also learned about the Mount Storm Wind Farm and the business of wind power.


  • EISP students visiting a site
  • A tour of Possum Point Power Station to get a better look at electric power generation and coal ash.  The name is because the layout of the facility happens to be in the shape of opossum! Environmental regulations and precautions were discussed as Dominion Virginia Power no longer uses coal to generate electricity at the Possum Point Power Station and is in the process of draining and covering its five ponds with an impermeable liner.  After coal is burned to generate electricity, coal ash is the term for what is left over.  Attendees got to see the coal ash ponds and the removal process in person.


  • Charles Hendricks with Gaines Group Architects was the guest speaker to kick off the month of December and discuss architecture, sustainability, and building science.  Charles discussed common housing mistakes and EISP participants also got many of their own personal questions answered regarding how they may save energy in their own home.
  • How many people can say they have been on top of 195+ feet of garbage? EISP participants have! Tom Smith gave a very informative presentation on some basics of landfill management and opportunities for recapturing energy from waste before our tour throughout parts of the 1,000-acre Prince William County Sanitary Landfill located in Manassas, VA, which included a capped landfill, seeing the trucks in use dispersing the garbage, wetlands area, and power station.


  • BP America hosted our group for a day of presentations and discussion at their Washington, D.C. office.  BP representatives discussed their energy projections, methodology, goals and priorities of the company, and gave a better understanding of the upstream/downstream process.
  • EISP attendees put their olfactory senses to the test on a tour of Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C., the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, where they learned about the wastewater treatment process, the thermal hydrolysis process, and the biosolids program.  Digesters capture methane and burn it in a turbine to produce electricity that have lowered the facilities electric bill by one-third.  Biosolids recycle carbon and nutrients back to the soil and have been distributed to areas such as farmlands and forests.


  • Energy industry representative giving a presentation to EISP studentsJon Proffitt, with Sigora Solar, was the guest speaker to discuss solar, photovoltaics, and solar markets. He provided the group with excellent insight into the economics involved in the solar business!
  • Jay Egg, of Egg Geothermal, changed gears to discuss another renewable energy market – Geothermal. Jay highlighted the many benefits of geothermal, especially in times of natural disasters such as recent hurricanes along the east coast, as well as policy and financial incentives.
  • Paul Loeffelman, from American Electric Power, was a guest speaker on Electric Power, the Electric Grid and Advancing Technologies. Paul highlighted on new BOLD technology that was developed to update North America’s aging power grid, as well as economic decision making behind power technology and investments.


  • EISP ended with a tour of Penn State University’s Breazeale Nuclear Reactor. Attendees learned about radiation and experimented with hands-on activities in the lab before taking a tour of the reactor itself.  The reactor sits under 24 feet of water and emits an alluring blue light caused by charged particles that travel through water at an extremely high speed. Being kept underwater creates a shield from the radiation and provides cooling for the reactor.  The water is kept so pure, by continuous circulation and de-mineralizing resins, that you could drop your phone into it and have no electrical malfunction (though, we took their word and didn’t test this ourselves!). We then ventured over to PSU MorningStar Solar home, built in 2007, it is a 100% renewable-energy powered home that utilizes solar, wind, and geothermal energy systems. The day ended with delicious ice-cream from Penn State Creamery, mmm!

A huge thank you to all our guest speakers and facilities that accommodated a tour for us.

NEED certainly looks forward to another great year of EISP!

Cape Light Compact:
Mount Storm Power Station:
Mount Storm Wind Farm:
Possum Point Power Station:
Charles Hendricks, Gaines Group Architects:
Prince William County Landfill:
Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant:
Sigora Solar:
Jay Egg, Geothermal:
American Electric Power (AEP) Bold Technology:
Breazeale Nuclear Reactor:
MorningStar Solar Home: