Bill Stillinger

In Memoriam: 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The NESEA community mourns the passing of Bill Stillinger on December 3, 2019. Bill was a NESEA Board and Lifetime Member and the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Service Award for his work with the NESEA Board of Directors. Most recently, he was the External Affairs Manager of PV Squared, a worker-owned solar energy cooperative in Greenfield, MA. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributing to The William Leroy Stillinger Renewable Energy Memorial Scholarship at Greenfield Community College: 

Please see his obituary for more information.



I wanted to put in a few more words about Bill Stillinger as we had a very strange beginning long before he became active in NESEA but whose interest in renewables was just beginning in about 1992-1993 when we met. Back then, as I think most of you know, Bill was working for Northeast Utilities and some of their people treated solar as a toy at best and a thorn in the foot at least. But Bill, who was then Director of Technology and Transmission Planning, at least kept an open mind on it and a twinkle in his eye.

I can't recall exactly when we met but I did get to cross examine him at a 1993 hearing mostly on externalities and renewables. His testimony took up about 60 pages and my grinding questions for him took up five pages and went on forever. Anyhow, we kept in touch and did lunch together on a fairly regular basis.

Some years later a university hired me to do a project on a DOE grant for to determine a Value of Solar and I brought Bill into it. Somehow the university people went off the rails much to our horror and dissatisfaction. Bill and I resigned within two hours of each other. My email to them read "I was sincerely hoping that bringing Bill Stillinger into the project might provide that direction. His 30+ years of working at utilities (including in high-level R&D positions) and his current employment as a PV company president and general manager provides a unique perspective and immense credibility to this project but his talents and perceptions were not well-used---or respected."

And so it was. I am so pleased over the outpouring of respect and gratitude for Bill's work and legacy. I only regret I may not have always treated him as well as I should have during his utility days. Still, we got along well and he even introduced me to the best Oriental food place I can recall, the East-West Grill in West Hartford where we shared some good times together. He taught me much and is already missed.

I have posted a remembrance of Bill, including some of his musings about Whole Systems, at the Whole Systems in Action website we created together for that now defunct track at Building Energy. sure do miss him!

From Bill's Daughter, Suzanne:I am writing to share the news that we buried Dad next to his parents in Putney VT over the weekend.  I am sad that we could not safely gather in greater numbers for a memorial service this year, and likely into the next, but wanted to share some of what I read at his interment.  I kept it short, because Dad had little patience for long speeches and liked to get to the point. Adapted from an essay by Aaron Freeman called “Planning Ahead Can Make a Difference in the End”.  ——You want a physicist to speak at your burial. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving loved ones about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your loved ones about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your loved ones to know that all your energy, every vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that was their beloved you is with them in this world. You want the physicist to tell them that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down and walk to your family there and tell them that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And may the physicist let them know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors of their eyes, that those photons created within them constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves on this hot day as she says it. And she will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.------- Please feel free to share this news with any and all who might want to know.  We will continue to be in touch about further plans to memorialize him, and about his memorial scholarship at GCC.   Best,Suzanne Stillinger

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