Meet the Community

Patrick Tomlinson


The world is undergoing a complete transformation in how it generates and distributes energy. Given the critical role energy plays in the richness and vitality of human lives, this transformation represents a real opportunity to dramatically improve the living standards of historically underserved communities. Patrick’s work is geared towards learning about, designing and implementing successful business models that empower underserved or at risk communities by giving them greater ownership control of their energy systems.


As a Cheng Fellow, Patrick co-founded two companies that help indigenous communities in Canada develop business plans to build, own and operate biomass district heating systems in their communities. He also developed an environmental scan of types of governance/ownership models related to community energy projects, and produced a comprehensive draft of a minimum viable product design and a district energy scaling-up plan that included: a clearly articulated vision, objectives of a community-based renewable energy project, proposed scaling-up timeline, finance and government model, including how ownership of the various assets and revenue streams will be handled, clarity on who will manage the various stages of the project, and a list of the proposed partners that will be included.


Patrick graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2016 (MC/MPA) and has since returned to Canada to apply the knowledge he learned while studying in Cambridge and the professional experiences he developed working in New York City as a Climate Corps fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund. He is very thankful for the fact that since graduating from HKS, he has continued working full-time on projects directly tied to the work he undertook as a Cheng Fellow. He is now working on projects in different capacities: as a volunteer member of several finance committees of Canada’s largest renewable energy co-operative, as a civil servant helping to execute structural change towards DER and renewable energy in Canada’s largest regional energy grid, and as a private consultant helping individual community groups, most notably remote indigenous communities, improve their economic outcomes by establishing community energy systems.