What is your role at your company? What are your responsibilities/focus areas?
I lead a team of permitting professionals who are responsible for securing discretionary land use and environmental permits for our portfolio of wind, solar, and energy storage projects. Our team is also responsible for completing environmental diligence and surveys prior to construction in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. I have led environmental diligence and permitting activities on close to 5 GW of renewable energy projects on private, state, and federal lands in the US.
What was your pathway to getting a career in the industry? What did you study in school or what previous job-specific training did you complete?
I received a Bachelor of Environmental Science (B.Sc) degree, with an emphasis on natural resource systems, and a Master of Science degree in Planning (M.Sc.Pl), with a focus on environmental planning.
When I graduated high school and started university, my plan was to pursue an environmental law career. However, during my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I was exposed to environmental and land use consulting and realized that I was more interested in a consulting career. My revised plan was to pursue a career in international development but that changed again when my first full-time job after school exposed me to large, complicated infrastructure projects. My early projects included fiber optic cables, oil and gas pipelines, offshore liquefied gas, offshore wave energy, and eventually wind and solar energy projects. All these projects involved complex permitting requirements – it is a regulatory puzzle that I loved (and still love) trying to understand.
Environmental consulting exposed me to a wide range of projects with different permitting strategies and risk profiles, which helped prepare me for my eventual transition from consulting to leading permitting activities at a renewable company.
Why did you choose a job in clean power? What was it about a career in the industry that appealed to you?
I started my career in a consulting firm in San Francisco. After a few years, I moved to New York City with my husband so that he could pursue his Ph.D. I continued to work in environmental consulting; however, the projects that I worked on at that time were more oil and gas-related and less focused on renewable energy. I realized that renewable energy is what I wanted to focus on because it reflected my core values and interests. We moved back to California after my husband received his degree and I sought out a position in a large environmental consulting firm with a focused practice area in renewable energy.
I continue to work in renewable energy because of our daughter. Like many other adults, I did not have to wonder if it is going to rain soon, if there was a threat of wildfire, or poor air quality while I was growing up. It pains me that my daughter and other kids think about these things, and I’d like to do everything I can to change that.