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Published December 19, 2022
Kara Brighton Fornstrom, a prominent natural resources attorney and regulatory policy expert, is the new University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER) Center for Energy Regulation and Policy Analysis (CERPA) director.
Fornstrom will lead a team of research scientists and attorneys to monitor and evaluate existing legislative and regulatory issues relating to energy development issues in the state, and to serve as a resource for decision-makers at the local, state, regional and national levels.
“We are delighted that Kara has agreed to join our team as we continue to tackle important energy issues facing Wyoming,” SER Executive Director Holly Krutka says. “Kara has a proven track record in advocating for natural resources and has a demonstrated dedication to economic growth and reliable energy for Wyoming and the region. In addition to her ability to navigate the nuances of existing legislative and regulatory issues, I continue to be impressed by her ability to communicate complex issues effectively.”
A center of excellence housed in SER, CERPA draws on interdisciplinary energy law, policy, technology and economic experts on and off campus to conduct world-class analyses of various regulatory issues within the energy industry -- with the goal of developing effective and pragmatic energy policies to benefit Wyoming.
“CERPA is an immense resource for Wyoming policymakers. It is clear that challenges facing the Wyoming energy sector are not only technical in nature and that multidisciplinary centers like CERPA can link the technical energy research across UW to real-world implementation,” Krutka adds. “We are fortunate to have Kara and the knowledge she brings with her.”
Fornstrom has more than 20 years of experience in the utility regulatory and administrative law sectors, and she has a proven record of generating internal and external relationships, addressing complex technical issues and managing challenging situations.
“I am thrilled to be joining the dedicated and highly skilled team at SER,” Fornstrom says. “I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with internal partners and external stakeholders to advance Wyoming’s continued development of its vast and diverse energy resources.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in small business management from UW and her law degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law.
Her legal career began at the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office in the Water Division. She was a founding partner of Hageman & Brighton PC, where she focused exclusively on water and natural resource issues, including representation of several irrigation districts, agricultural interests and municipalities.
Appointed by former Gov. Matt Mead in 2013, she served on the Wyoming Public Service Commission for nearly eight years, the last two years as chairman. During that time, Fornstrom also served on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Board of Directors and the Committee on Electricity, and she was the former president of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners.
Throughout her career, she has served on several state, regional and national boards and committees. In August 2015, she was a member of the NARUC delegation to China for the U.S. Department of Energy’s regulatory policy technology mission. She also was a delegate to the United Kingdom in 2019 as a member of the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Policy, Research and Implementation Collaboration and Exchange.
Most recently, Fornstrom was the director of state regulatory policy for Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional transmission organization in the Eastern Interconnection, where she focused her efforts on SPP’s strategic initiative to expand its services in the Western Interconnection.