As part of our efforts to stay abreast of innovations in the cleantech space, Itron Idea Labs is now a corporate sponsor of the Los Angeles Clean Technology Incubator (LACI), housed on the La Kretz campus of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. As corporate members of LACI, Itron Idea Labs participates in innovation conferences, accesses the network of start-ups incubated within LACI and its cleantech network, and has an opportunity to mentor entrepreneurs and pilot start-up technologies with our utility customers.

In April, as part of our membership, I participated in two very important LACI coordinated events in Los Angeles.

At the first event, the 17th Annual Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo, which took place at SoCalGas Energy Resource Center in Downey, I was privileged to introduce the morning keynote speaker, Seleta Reynolds, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Ms. Reynolds gave an impassioned speech about the impact technology and innovation will have on public safety, transportation and clean air. As not only an innovation enthusiast, but a transplanted Angelena born in East Los Angeles, it was so inspiring to hear how innovations in electric vehicles, solar, building management, drones, portable play structures and municipal art are in consideration to transform neighborhoods, improve air quality and effect economic and social change. Gary Gero, chief sustainability officer for the County of Los Angeles, shared his views on creating energy efficiency programs for underserved communities, bringing renewable energy and distributed generation programs to downtown and South Central Los Angeles.

Day two of our LACI-hosted event was held at the Getty Center, where Senator Kevin De Leon of California opened the conference with a rousing speech on climate change, advocating for less reliance on fossil fuels and promoting an economically equitable approach to deploying clean energy. Senator De Leon was followed by David H. Wright, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, who committed to the Senator’s vision of democratizing access to clean energy, referencing a program to offer discounts on used electric vehicles to customers and committing to cooperating with his peers at utilities across the three western states to share best practices.

Building on the theme of a West Coast alliance on clean energy was a panel featuring the Honorable Jay Inslee, governor of the State of Washington, the Honorable Kate Brown, governor of the State of Oregon and the Honorable Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, all leaders of the West Coast Climate Change team, who shared their passionate commitment to reducing carbon and bringing clean energy to their constituents.

Itron Idea Labs has an active project focusing on eliminating bureaucracy in the carbon credit trading market. My takeaways from these two days of LACI-sponsored events indicate that Itron Idea Lab’s carbon credit trading project is a viable solution to a tractable problem that our utility customers and our legislators in the West Coast Climate Change team are intent to solve. We in Itron Idea Labs are thrilled to be part of this process.

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Elena Vasconi
Elena Vasconi is an innovator and marketer for leading-edge technologies that are driving the digital transformation of cities and utilities. As an evangelist for Itron Idea Labs, a lean start-up style group, Vasconi is leveraging her vast experience in working with entrepreneurs and executives to discover and create the next big thing using the Internet of Things.
She began her career in San Diego at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science as a research assistant tasked with developing software to simulate the performance of a novel telescope for extra solar planetary search. Moving from academia to the government contracting, she applied her digital image processing skills and abilities to sonar and satellite communications for military purposes.
Vasconi was recruited to Silicon Valley where she joined the ranks of companies like Apple Computer, Adobe, Palm and Paul Allen’s Interval Research before branching out on her own. Throughout her career, she has worked with entrepreneurs, start-ups and public companies, to help leadership teams identify their core competencies, strengths and weaknesses and, more importantly, refine or develop their own voice, both within their organization and to the broader marketplace in which they operate.
Vasconi volunteers with the San Jose Piano Competition, hosting international contestants in her home in summer. She received her Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of California, San Diego, loves to garden and is an avid home cook.