Demystifying energy policy and highlighting solutions—because hope is the fuel for change

Welcome to The Energy Optimist, a monthly podcast brought to you by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Each episode, we tackle a thorny energy policy challenge in 25-minute bite-sized interviews with leading experts. We start with the bad news and end with what increasingly feels like a radical idea: that there are reasons for optimism. 

If you’re new to how we regulate the energy system, we’ll demystify it for you. If you’re a seasoned practitioner, we’ll hopefully leave you with renewed optimism to keep doing the work to improve our energy system.

About the Host

As Vice President of IREC’s Regulatory Program, Radina Valova provides strategic direction and oversight of IREC’s regulatory team. Radina comes to IREC with seven years of experience in energy and climate law and policy, with a focus on the electric and gas utility sectors, utility transformation, and a just transition to a decarbonized economy for underserved and disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining IREC, Radina served as Senior Staff Attorney and Regulatory Affairs Manager for the Pace Energy and Climate Center in White Plains, New York, where she led the Center’s engagement in New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision, developed policy solutions for decarbonizing the buildings sector, and pushed for clean and affordable energy for low- and moderate-income communities. Radina is a graduate of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, with JD Certificates in Environmental and International Law, and an LL.M. in Land Use and Sustainable Development. She teaches Energy Law at Pace and has a strong commitment to training the next generation of energy and climate advocates.

Listen Now


Episode 0: Trailer

Welcome to The Energy Optimist, a monthly podcast highlighting solutions to energy policy challenges through bite-sized interviews with leading experts, brought to you by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Each episode, we’ll explore a challenge with how we regulate the electric distribution system that powers our homes, devices, and, increasingly, our cars. And, we’ll end with solutions and reasons for optimism. Tune in to this trailer episode to get to know your host, Radina Valova, IREC Regulatory Vice President, and learn what to expect from The Energy Optimist.

Episode 1: What Is Energy Regulation, and Why Should I Care?

Energy—primarily in the form of electricity and gas—has become a fundamental support system for every aspect of our lives. We can’t live without it, and in many ways, we can’t sustainably live with it. The way we regulate energy has profound impacts on our environment, our communities, and our future. If you’re new to energy policy, this episode will give you a primer on the energy system: what it is, how it’s regulated, and who the major players are, and we’ll highlight some of the biggest challenges. And then, we’ll answer the question, why should we be optimistic? Because hope is not optional.

Episode 2: Out With the Old, In With the New: The Future of Energy

The energy system we all know—the interwoven network of power plants and transmission and distribution infrastructure—has been regulated roughly the same way for more than one hundred years. Not because the current regulatory framework is the best that it can be, but because inertia and economic pressures have made the energy system extremely resistant to change. In this episode, we’ll answer two key questions: What is the future of energy? And how can we reimagine the current system so that it’s more affordable, resilient, and equitable?