SSOE Group

Confirmed Speakers

Click on the names below to read each individual’s bio.

Bob Bessette
Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO)

As president of CIBO since 1995, Mr. Bessette represents the interests of America’s industrial energy users and producers on energy, environmental, and technology development issues. In this capacity, he works closely with the U.S. Congress, the EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), state governments, and trade associations. A graduate of West Virginia Institute of Technology, he has worked in all aspects of the industrial energy sector from equipment design to fuel application and use. He has authored numerous publications, presentations, and editorials.

Dr. Robert W. Chase
Professor and Chair of the Department of Petroleum Engineering and Geology
Marietta College

Dr. Chase has devoted his career to furthering petroleum education and the field of petroleum engineering. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from Penn State. In addition to publishing numerous technical papers on natural gas engineering and well testing, he has served on various national boards and commissions associated with the petroleum industry. He has received awards for his achievements and service from Penn State, the Society for Petroleum Engineering (SPE) and Marietta College.

Marc S. Gerken, P.E.
President and CEO
American Municipal Power (AMP)

After earning a degree in civil engineering from the University of Dayton, Mr. Gerken worked extensively in the public sector on infrastructure projects. From a position as city manager of Napoleon, Ohio and member of AMP’s Board of Trustees, he advanced to President of AMP in 2000. Gerken is active in public power leadership and policy development positions on a national level. Under Gerken’s direction, AMP has undergone tremendous growth and become a recognized leader in the utility industry.

Ronald C. Lutwen
Senior Account Executive
SSOE Group

With more than 40 years of professional experience in the power industry, Ron has been involved with numerous utility power related projects SSOE has performed. His project expertise ranges from small energy studies to new power generation facilities and carries over to telecommunications projects involving feasibility studies to build, own, or operate broadband networks. Ron earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio. Until December of 2012, Ron served as Manager for SSOE’s Power Division but has now officially retired and continues to work for SSOE on a part-time basis as a Senior Account Executive.

Tom Fitzpatrick
Power Department Manager
SSOE Group

Tom has over 30 years of experience in the power industry and serves as SSOE’s Power Department Manager. In this role he is responsible for the management of various utility related projects for industrial, municipal, and institutional facilities. Frequently, he is involved in putting together data to determine annual fuel use, electrical generation, operating costs, and maintenance costs for clients. Most recently, he completed Boiler MACT studies for three confidential clients as well as a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) study for a University.

Tom received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from Syracuse University. In addition, he also holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Toledo. Recently, Tom co-authored an article with Ron Lutwen, titled “Renewables for Baseload Generation – Probably Not” in Power Engineering Magazine. He is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in seven states and works in SSOE’s Toledo, Ohio office.

Mike Heise
Medical Center Company (MCCo)

In his role as President of the Medical Center Company, Mike is responsible for the oversight and leadership in all operational, financial and strategic planning aspects of the organization. Prior to joining the Medical Center Company, he worked for several different utility organizations. From 1999 to 2003, he worked for American Municipal Power of Ohio as vice president of technical services. From 1997 to 1999, he worked for the City of Napoleon as their electrical distribution superintendent. From 1988 to 1997, he worked as a customer engineer for the two operating companies of FirstEnergy. He received his bachelors of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio.

Glen White
General Manager
Michigan South Central Power Agency (MSCPA)

Bio forthcoming.

Jim Leidel
Director of Clean Energy Systems
Oakland University

Jim Leidel has been involved in the energy and energy management industries since his graduation from Purdue University with a BS in mechanical engineering in 1990. From 1991 to 2001, he worked in various positions with Invensys Building Systems (formerly Barber-Colman) and Detroit Edison, followed by 10 years as Energy Manger for Oakland University’s Facilities Management Department. In 2011, Jim helped create the Clean Energy Research Center within the School of Engineering and Computer Science at OU and moved over to be the Director of Clean Energy Systems.

Following up his BSME degree from Purdue and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from U of M, he is presently completing his mechanical engineering PhD dissertation at Oakland University. His research is studying a building-integrated hybrid thermal-electric solar collector and energy system.

Recently, James has been researching, producing, using and promoting the use of veggie oil based biodiesel. At Oakland, he designed and installed a 10kW roof integrated photovoltaic system, a small hybrid wind/solar installation, and has been developing projects for a utility sized wind turbine, a central campus bioenergy plant, and a gas fired cogeneration system. All of these projects could involve outside, third party financing and ownership. Presently, he is assisting with OU’s first green building project, the Human Health Building, utilizing an innovative geothermal heat pump system with a solar thermal driven desiccant dehumidification ventilation. He procured two grants totaling $2.8M to help fund this project.

Jim also teaches an Environmental Studies course ENV 312, Energy and the Environment, and has been lecturing on biodiesel and alternative energies throughout Michigan and rural Haiti.

Jim has published papers on and holds a patent regarding a low heat rejection automotive engine design and is presently working on several other innovative energy technologies.

Jim has received state, federal, and university funding for many projects over the past several years including:

  • Kresge Foundation Green Building Initiative ($75,000 grant award)
  • US DOE Geothermal / Solar Thermal Green Bldg Project ($2.75M)
  • Biodiesel promotion and business planning (two $6,000 grant awards)
  • Photovoltaic demonstration installations ($100,000 grant award)
  • Utility scale wind power development ($50,000 grant award)
  • Bioenergy combined heat and power plant development ($43,000 grant award)
  • 3.5 MW dual fueled biodiesel backup generator project ($1.3M project)
  • University campus submetering system ($650,000 project)
  • Energy and deferred maintenance performance contract ($11M project)
Charles Lehnert
Vice President of Administration
The University of Toledo

Chuck Lehnert joined the former Medical College of Ohio (MCO) in 1978. Starting as a staff member, he identified and improved many processes to gain overall efficiency of the Physical Plant. As a Plant Engineer, he devoted his time to the efficient operation of the plant, lowering the overall utility usage. As his career expanded into management, he was first at creating an annual report demonstrating his commitment to the organization as a whole.

He was promoted to Assistant Vice President for Facilities Maintenance of the former MCO. While in this role, he developed the Yearly Energy Summary, identifying the annual consumption of utilities by building. He also created the first Facilities Condition Analysis, projecting the University’s overall deferred maintenance for five years into the future. He also reengineered various areas of MCO.’s service lines. He was the original architect of the fiber optic and telephony infrastructure of the Health Science Campus, creating efficiencies in overall cost and design redundancy. His expertise has evolved into reengineering and streamlining processes while creating a responsive team of customer service driven leaders.

As Vice President for Facilities and Construction for the new University of Toledo, he has led his team in achieving some of the best scores in a state wide analysis of university facilities operations (Sightlines). He continues to create the Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation where intellectual property and renewable energy processes are demonstrated. As V.P. for Facilities and Construction, Chuck was asked to co-sponsor the 2011 strategy, Directions for the University of Toledo. As the 2012 budget process started to develop, Chuck was asked to lead a reengineering budget process that helped to conclude the submission of the 2012 balanced budget to the Board of Trustees.

Chuck is personally committed to The University of Toledo and its achievements and its success.

Bill McPherson
Development Engineer
DTE Energy Services

Bill McPherson is a Development Engineer for DTE Energy Services. In this capacity his responsibilities include:

  • evaluation of efficiency and optimization opportunities for the various utility systems at plants operated by DTEES
  • preparation and maintenance of O&M procedures for equipment and systems
  • customer relationship maintenance and organic business development

During his sixteen years at DTEES he has led numerous CHP development efforts for heavy industrial facilities utilizing opportunity fuels, waste heat recovery, and fuel preparation.

Prior to DTEES, Mr. McPherson was a Project Manager for the Power Division of Black & Veatch, and Department Manager for the Industrial Division providing engineering design and turnkey construction services to major industrials in the US, Canada and the UK.


  • B.S. in Architectural Engineering from Oklahoma State University
  • –M.B.A. from the University of Houston.

Professional Registration:

  • –   Registered professional engineer in Michigan and Texas

Key Experience:

  • 30+ years of experience in the design, construction, and development of energy and industrial projects.
  • Project management experience for large energy and public infrastructure projects
  • Extensive work in alternative fuels and fuel switching opportunities for heavy industrial energy systems
Zach Platsis, CEM, CMVP, LEED AP O+M
Energy Consulting
SSOE Group

Zach Platsis, CEM, CMVP, LEED AP O+M, serves in Energy Consulting at SSOE Group, a global engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) firm. In this role, Zach leads energy and sustainability assessments, renewable and alternative energy studies, and development of energy master plans. Zach has provided technical expertise for the development of proposals for congressional appropriations and state and federal energy grants, in addition to collaborating on several energy related papers and presentations. He has a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan and a graduate certificate in Alternative Energy Technology from Wayne State University.

Zach acts at the technical program manager for the BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio (BBNWO) energy financing program.  He is responsible for energy projects technical guidelines and requirements, energy assessments, energy improvement project execution, measurement and verification, and program technical reporting.

Ed Cvelbar
Certified Energy Manager
Johnson Controls

Ed has spent his entire career helping his clients save money by showing them how to safely manage their operational costs more effectively. He has over 25-years’ experience in performance contracting, energy management, power distribution, and power generation. He earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from Youngstown State University and is a U.S. Navy Veteran. As a Certified Energy Manager, Ed is knowledgeable in all aspects of energy performance contracting and has managed numerous projects that were funded solely through energy and operational savings that Ed identified. In fact, Ed is extremely proud that the improvements he personally has implemented have resulted in over $50-million worth of savings for his clients.

Ed is adept at aligning and linking facility and infrastructure improvements to his client’s business results. Whether he is helping members of a school Board understand how to leverage their buildings to increase student retention and increase voter support for referendums, or helping County Commissioners or City Councilmen link facility efficiency improvements to tax reductions and community improvements, Ed strives to exceed his client’s expectations on every project.

A School Board President, Ed resides in Mahoning County with his wife and four children and is available for speaking engagements for your school, church, or place of business.

Kevin Moyer
Executive Director, Energy Efficiency & Alternative Energy Programs
Toledo / Lucas County Port Authority
Jim Otte, NICET IV
Data / Fire / Security Specialist
SSOE Group

Jim is a Data / Fire / Security Specialist in SSOE’s Toledo, Ohio office with more than 25 years of experience in the engineering and design of complex fire, security, sound, telecommunication, and data networks. His expertise includes engineering, commissioning and validation management, project leadership, contract management, protocol preparation, project field execution, and quality control review. Jim is nationally recognized as a leader in the fire and security field and serves as a consultant for many Fortune 100 firms. He is certified in many areas including Software House Access Control, Lenel Enterprise Applications, Panasonic Application, NICET Level 4, and EST Platform Training. Jim has been recently published in a number of industry publications such as Above Ground Level Magazine, FacilityCare Magazine and Chemical Processing Magazine, among others, for his expertise on Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), Mass Notification Systems (MNS), and Data / Fire / Security solutions for all types of facilities.

Dale Rector
Chief Consulting Officer
Beach Front Energy Holdings Co. LLC

Dale has periodically represented project developers for biomass, waste-to-energy, landfill gas and cogeneration facilities, including power sale and fuel purchase contract negotiations. In addition, he has advised municipal and cooperative utilities regarding wholesale commodity purchases and infrastructure development.

Dale’s experience includes all aspects of the natural gas and electricity supply chain from retail to wholesale procurement. In particular, he has been a pioneer in negotiating wholesale access for retail customers and designing custom demand-response programs. He also has extensive knowledge of energy intensive manufacturing processes and generation technologies, including associated operational, regulatory and environmental aspects and limitations.

For industrial clients, Beach Front Energy negotiations fit within an overall strategic energy management program designed to minimize energy cost while maximizing operational flexibility. All utility negotiations begin with a thorough understanding of the Client’s strategic goals, operational capabilities and risk tolerance. This knowledge is combined with Beach Front’s market expertise and extensive research of utility capabilities to develop a feasible structure for low-cost utility supply.

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