Travis R. Kavulla ’06-’07 has more than a hat and slick website backing his bid to be Commissioner of the Public Service Commission—the Montana native has a rich past that involves an active undergraduate career at Harvard, The National Review, Kenya, and energy policy.

“I've always been kind of an energy policy nerd,” Kavulla said in an interview with FlyBy, right before he left for a hiking trip.

Kavulla didn't realize this interest until his senior year of college, during which he took to studying energy policy in his free time while completing his History concentration requirements.

At the same time, Kavulla worked as a Crimson columnist and served as the editor of The Harvard Salient, holding that position during a time when former University President Lawrence H. Summers' administration fell under criticism. The Salient republished the infamous Danish cartoons that had much of the Muslim world up in arms. 

That and other interests stayed with Kavulla throughout his time after Harvard as he traveled the world as an investigative journalist for The National Review, a biweekly magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. with a conservative bent. In his travels and studies, Kavulla explored topics as diverse as religion in eastern Africa and energy policy in the United States.

Kavulla remembers his time at Harvard as educational in more ways than one: he recalled how his conservative ideas were often challenged at the school, and how such experiences helped him to appreciate that “so many people of such different political persuasions have very good points.”

Now Kavulla wants to bring what he describes as a “practical” stance on energy policy to Montana’s Public Service Commission, the body responsible for overseeing and regulating use of utilities and energy in Montana.

“I’d certainly like to explore fuel resources that lead to low-cost energy,” Kavulla said. “Unfortunately...we’re working out problems trying to get energy out of substances that are not energy rich,” he continued, citing more traditional sources like electric energy as a good source of energy and a building block of the economy.

Kavulla has already beaten out one opponent by a margin of 10 percent for the Republican nomination. With some luck and a website that Kavulla said one of his friends described as surely the nicest website ever made for someone running for Public Service Commissioner, Kavulla may achieve his goal of becoming Commissioner for Montana’s first of five districts and serve a key role in shaping energy policy in that state for the next four years.