Phylicia Cicilio transitions to a new job

Phylicia Cicilio
Photo courtesy of Phylicia Cicilio/ACEP
ACEP’s Phylicia Cicilio joins GVEA.

February 8, 2024

It is with mixed feelings that we announce Phylicia Cicilio is moving to a new position as an electrical engineer at Golden Valley Electric Association.

GVEA’s president and CEO John Burns expressed his excitement to have Cicilio, noting that “her academic credentials are impressive,” and so are “her extensive experience working with transmissions reliability organizations and national laboratories as well as her active engagement on Alaska and Railbelt-specific technical studies.” 

The Railbelt is the largest electrical grid in Alaska, covering nearly 700 miles from Homer on the Kenai Peninsula to Fairbanks in the Interior and supplying 75% of the state’s population with power.

Cicilio joined ACEP as a research assistant professor in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Over the past three-and-a-half years, she “has transformed ACEP’s Power Systems Integration team and increased our potential for impact tenfold by expanding our power system research from remote communities into the Railbelt,” commended University of Alaska President’s Professor in Energy and ACEP’s PSI team leader Mariko Shirazi.

With an academic focus on power system modeling, as well as experience at Peak Reliability (formerly the Western Interconnection) and ISO New England, Cicilio brought much needed power system modeling expertise to ACEP, including familiarity with industry standard tools.

Cicilio initially supported ACEP’s DOE EPSCoR program, “Development and Validation of Models to Assess Dynamic Response of Converter-Dominated Power Systems across Multiple Spatiotemporal Scales,” and a DOE ARPA-E project, “Rapidly Viable and Sustained Grid.” It was the latter project which, with the support of GVEA’s director of engineering services Dan Bishop, introduced her to the Railbelt power system.

Subsequent to this project, Cicilio spearheaded a major Railbelt grid decarbonization study. The study represented a first-ever collaboration among ACEP, the Railbelt utilities and the Alaska Energy Authority, a collaboration which all parties maintained over the course of two years. Its results have recently been released.

Throughout the course of her tenure at ACEP, despite the responsibilities and workload of leading such a large project, Cicilio mentored over a half-dozen undergraduate students, taking an extraordinary amount of time to introduce, direct and inspire them in the world of power system modeling.

Steve Colt, research professor of energy economics and policy at ACEP, echoed Shirazi in praising Cicilio’s accomplishments. “[She] has done amazing and literally unbelievable things since arriving in 2020, for ACEP, for the people of Alaska, and for numerous students –– many of whom are yet to arrive at UAF.”

“Railbelt utility customers will be the next group to benefit, big-time,” he added.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with such a passionate and dedicated group of people working towards energy solutions for Alaska,” reflected Cicilio.

“I am excited to continue this mission in my new role with GVEA, as I do believe it is ultimately the same mission,” she said.

While we at ACEP will miss Phylicia tremendously, we believe she will be able to contribute even more to the state as part of the GVEA team.

Cicilio will remain as part-time adjunct faculty at ACEP.