What do you do within the renewable energy sector and why is it essential?
I help renewable energy (i.e. solar, storage, efficiency, etc.) business owners sell their companies by running a process to find the right buyer at the optimal purchase price. A healthy M&A market is an essential tool for companies looking to achieve scale and for equity-holders to realize returns on their investments.
Can you describe 2 of your most impactful past projects or engagements?
Leveraging Duke Energy’s acquisition of a wind energy services business to expand the company’s service offerings to other wind energy asset owners. Co-leading the 2014 Duke Energy NC Solar RFP and successfully acquiring 128 MW of solar projects and signing 150MW in new purchase agreements.
What are you most excited about for the renewable energy industry in 2017-2018?
I am excited to support the rapid maturity of wind and solar businesses in the market. As companies continue to consolidate with one another, the efficiencies gained will further drive down the costs of renewable energy installations making them more and more competitive with traditional fossil fuels. I am also confident that over the next two years the renewable energy industry will continue to shock and awe with dramatic increases in installed capacity of matured technologies and with its pace of innovation.
What are you most concerned about for the renewable energy industry in 2017-2018?
Policy or rather “bad” policy is always a concern for stewards of the clean energy industry. Uncertainty in any market can slow growth and stifle innovation. I am concerned about the resistance in the renewable energy industry for there to be winners and losers in terms of the types of technology and methods of deployment that win the day. If the industry tries to advocate for everyone to be a winner it will result in sub-optimal policies. Encouragingly, the renewable energy industry has time and time again proven its resilience to political uncertainty and I think is well on its way to being even less dependent on the whims of elected officials.
What is one trend in the renewable energy sector that few are paying attention to?
I think the trend of EVs becoming closer and closer to mainstream is sometimes lost in the noise created by Tesla, as if the whole EV industry depends on Tesla succeeding. At one point, I would have agreed, but now I see daily announcements for new EVs by all the major manufacturers and the cars actually look good. It feels like EVs are finally becoming mainstream enough that most consumers won’t see them as weird spaceships but rather consider them a viable, affordable, and attractive alternative to a gas-powered vehicle.
Why hire an investment banker to sell your business?
For the same reasons you would hire a lawyer to write an operating agreement or an accountant to do your books, you want experts to help you with non-core competencies. All we do as an investment banking firm is sell companies so we are good at it and know the pitfalls, the same way a good solar developer knows the permitting traps to avoid.
What has surprised you most about your career in the renewable energy sector?
I have been surprised by how much finance played a role in the success of the industry. The renewable energy economy has been built on innovations in financial structures sometimes for better or for worse (remember yieldcos).
What are 1-2 pieces of advice you would give someone thinking about entering the renewable energy industry today?
As a theater major, I never thought I would end up being an investment banker with a career in renewable energy. I am a testament to the fact that there are many paths to the same place. My advice to someone would be to try something scary, don’t get stuck in your comfort zone.
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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash