Fueling Clean Energy

Amy Myers Jaffe’s passion for her job originated in the front seat of a 1973 Oldsmobile Sedan.

The energy expert was a child during the 1973 oil crisis. There was only one gas station in her hometown of Swampscott, Massachusetts, near Boston, and she spent many early morning hours in the car with her father, waiting in long lines to fuel up.

“I would get up at 5 a.m. twice a week and sit with him in line to make sure we’d have enough gas for the week,” Myers Jaffe says. “It made a huge impression on me.”

Myers Jaffe is now the executive director of energy and sustainability for UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management and Institute of Transportation Studies. Her research helps bring together policymakers and leaders in the technology, oil and gas sectors to explore business models that can achieve clean energy in a commercially sustainable way.

Success, according to Myers Jaffe, is identifying incentives for businesses to make choices that are profitable and best for the public good. She’s hopeful that new technology and the diversification of fuel use could smooth the way.

“I would like to see the oil industry be part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” she says.

Myers Jaffe is glad to be at a campus unique in its zero net energy commitment, where it’s easy to practice what she preaches. She starts each day at UC Davis by plugging in her Ford C-MAX at an electric vehicle charging station. She teaches business courses in sustainability metrics and energy 101, and often helps students prepare for job interviews in the sustainable energy industry.

“This generation is going to change the things that really need to change, so it’s rewarding to hear from former students that they’ve found my class useful.”

Amy Myers Jaffe is the lead author on Exploring the Role of Natural Gas in U.S. Trucking, a February 2015 report released from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis and Rice University. Read the report’s highlights and listen to an audio clip from Jaffe.