2015 Conference

April 17th, 2015 | The University Club, Chicago


Please join us for the 2015 Energy Forward Conference!

The past year has been a dynamic one for US energy markets.  US oil prices plummeted at the end of 2014 bringing a wave of capital expenditure reductions and industry layoffs, solar power generation expanded rapidly once again, wind power grappled with expiration of the production tax credit in December of 2014, and the power generation sector continued to see coal’s market share decline at the expense of gas.  Join us for Chicago Booth’s Energy Forward 2015 conference as we examine the trends and opportunities that are defining the energy markets this year and beyond.

You’ll gain insights from industry leaders, network with investors and practitioners, and plant yourself firmly in the center of Chicago’s energy community.  Topics and questions addressed will include: the outlook for US oil markets and upstream activity, US midstream activity, outlook for the US power sector, venture capital and private equity activity in energy, energy policy development and the effect on markets, and innovative new energy business models.

Secure your tickets in advance to guarantee participation. See examples from last year and 2013 for what to expect, as well as some photos from the 2014 conference.

Thank you to our generous sponsors, including ChevronFMC Technologies, Marathon CapitalExelon, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  If you are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, please contact the organizers for more information.

Platinum Sponsor:

CVX Gold

Gold Sponsors:

  FMC Logo

  marathon cap logo 

Silver Sponsor:


Bronze Sponsor:

     Exelon Corp.

Academic Partner:

 EPIC logo



Friday, April 17th, 2015

Conference to be held at the University Club, downtown Chicago. See the Location page for more information and logistics. Please note, the University Club enforces a business casual dress code for events held there.


 We are excited to have a great group of Keynote speakers for Energy Forward 2015!

Stephen Straty, Co-Head of Energy, Investment Banking, Jefferies & Company


Stephen Straty is Americas Co Head of Energy Investment Banking at Jefferies & Company, Inc. and has over 30 years of experience in investment banking.  Prior to joining Jefferies in 2008, Mr. Straty was an executive at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., for 17 years, serving as Senior Managing Director and Head of the Natural Resources Group.  Mr. Straty has extensive experience in serving a broad array of energy clients, having completed over $75 billion in merger and acquisition and financing assignments during the past ten years.  Mr. Straty worked at Smith Barney, Harris, Upham & Co. for 10 years focusing on the energy sector, and prior to that worked in the investment banking division at Prudential Insurance, advising on private placements of debt and equity as well as leveraged buyouts.

Ted Brandt ’87, Chief Executive Officer, Marathon Capital

marathon cap logo

Ted Brandt is co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Marathon Capital, a Chicago-based investment banking boutique focused on the global Energy and Infrastructure markets. The firm provides financial advice in the areas of M&A, structuring and capital raising of debt, equity, project financing and tax equity, and restructuring/recapitalization, bankruptcy and workout situations. Marathon Capital is a two-time recipient of the “Best Renewable Asset M&A Advisor” award in Power Finance & Risk’s Annual Power Finance Deals and Firms Awards (2013 & 2014).

Prior to Marathon Capital, Mr. Brandt held various senior management positions within large non-bank finance and leasing companies including:  GE Capital, Dana Commercial Credit, and Transamerica. During this 15-year period Mr. Brandt had start-up responsibility for leasing units, hands-on turnaround assignments, and opportunities to create and execute a variety of manufacturer vendor programs. Mr. Brandt also actively worked on the buying and selling of specialty commercial finance units during this time. 

Last year speakers from the following companies attended the conference:

Anadarko Petroleum, A.T. Kearney, Baker Hughes, Barclays, BTG Pactual, Cheniere Energy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, EQT Midstream Partners, Exelon, Folsom Labs, Freepoint Commodities, Integrys Energy, Invenergy, Marathon Capital, McKinsey, SoCore Energy, and True North Venture Partners

Past participants include speakers from Tudor Pickering & Holt, First Wind, Exelon, Marathon Capital, Anadarko, Statoil, Pemex, Invenergy, SunEdison, BASF, ANCAP, DTE, FMC Technologies, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ICF International, Edison Mission Energy, HEVT, Clean Urban Energy, Energy Foundry, Phoenician Resources, McNally Capital, Partners Group, Irradia Energia, Wells Fargo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch,  McKinsey, Bain, BCG, A.T. Kearney, Deloitte, Ungaretti & Harris, Akin Gump, Argonne National Laboratory, Barclays, BP, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, City of Chicago Sustainability Office, ClearHedging, E.ON, Folsom Labs, EQT Midstream Partners, Integrys, Nalco, Navigant Consulting, Nothern Trust, and Satori Energy.

Please see the lineup from 2014 and 2013 for representative speakers.


There will be five breakout panels:

Investing in a Volatile Price Environment: Exploration & Production, 9:15 – 10: 15 AM

Over the past several years, many energy companies invested in upstream exploration and production projects assuming a floor of $70-$80/barrel. However, the recent fall in crude oil prices has introduced uncertainty in the industry, as well as the global economy. Companies are beginning to grapple with a new reality. Where will oil prices go from here? How will companies invest in this new climate? Will the oil & gas industry see a wave of consolidation? Can shale projects survive? What will happen to the services companies?  This panel will address these, and other issues affecting E&P companies.

Physical Natural Gas Markets: Hot Topics and Perspectives, 10:30 – 11:30 AM

Fundamental changes upstream have impacted the way in which supply has traditionally flowed to end user markets. Recent industry mergers as well as divestitures of prominent natural gas “marketers” have had considerable liquidity impacts. Record market volatility resulting from two consecutive unseasonably cold winters despite record domestic gas production and a depressed storage pricing has tested market efficiency and infrastructure reliability. This panel will explore recent trends in the physical natural gas marketplace and focus on the particular challenges mid-marketers and traders are experiencing today.  Beginning with a fundamentals based view, discussion will cover supply and demand side responses, market liquidity, transportation and storage, and long term sector outlook.

  • Jennifer Cogburn, Natural Gas Market Analyst, Citadel
  • David Hochberg, Vice President/ Head of NatGas Trading, Constellation Energy
  • Frank Verducci, Managing Director – Structured Products Americas, BP America
  • Moderated by Bryan Hassler, VP of Development, Xcel Energy

Policy: Role of Regulation in Domestic Energy Policy, 1:15 – 2:15 PM

After years of studies and debates, the Keystone XL pipeline was vetoed by President Obama in February, citing the need for additional study of climate impacts. Meanwhile, crude oil continues to be shipped by rail from the oil sands and pipeline capacity from the Bakken has more than doubled in five years. The Obama administration has proposed opening the Atlantic Coast for oil and gas exploration, while limiting drilling in Alaska. Major domestic oil and gas producers have pushed unsuccessfully for an end to crude oil export restrictions with the increase in domestic production, while the chemicals industry has benefited from decreased input prices. Each new policy generates winners and losers in the business world.

How New Energy Technologies Will Work in the Smart Grid of the Future: Renewable Energy, 1:15 – 2:15 PM

Researchers project that the U.S. solar-plus-storage market will grow from $42 million in 2014 to more than $1 billion by 2018, harnessing the potential of intermittent renewable energy sources. While these systems rely on building-side benefits and revenues to justify themselves today, mandates and state-funded research organisations have set the stage for grid-scale battery deployment across the US and abroad. At the same time, new web-based technologies are enabling utilities to motivate their customers as never before, with the potential to reduce annual energy consumption in the U.S. by up to 18,800 GWhs and produce annual capacity savings of up to 4,680 MW. This panel will explore the opportunities and challenges for utilities and their customers, as well as other service providers, as new battery technologies better enable intermittent renewable resources, while customer engagement technologies support these initiatives and also make the customer an operational resource in the Smart Grid of the future.

Conventional Power: The Future of Generation – Regulated versus Merchant, 2:30 – 3:30 PM

Power companies with sizeable regulated operations and merchant generation businesses (“hybrids”) appear to be gravitating towards breaking up and pursuing pure-play strategies by spinning off their merchant generation assets. Duke Energy, PPL, Exelon, and AEP have all demonstrated a desire to shrink exposure to deregulated power markets in the past year. Will this trend continue with the few remaining hybrid businesses? Will new generation be owned by regulated utilities, governmental entities, hybrid utilities, or merchant independent power producers? Which market players will take a larger share of the merchant generation space going forward?

  • Mike Kline, Senior Associate, The Brattle Group
  • Josh Levin ’07, Senior Manager, Corporate Planning, Exelon Corporation
  • James Marshall, Managing Director of Mergers and Acquisitions, AES Corporation
  • Steve Ryder, Senior Vice President of Finance, Invenergy LLC
  • Moderated by Justin Palfreyman ’07, Director, Global Power, Energy & Infrastructure, Lazard