Aarty Joshi

Director, Environmental Permitting

Clearway Energy Group, LLC

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. 

Extra Questions

What is the best part of your job? 

Hands down, my Clearway colleagues. I love our collaborative environment where everyone’s voice is heard and respected. And it’s incredibly rewarding to see a project finally begin operations after we have worked incredibly hard to site and design the project and obtain agency approvals. 

How do your background and fundamental skill set support your current role? 

My two degrees provided me with the fundamentals of understanding science and how the land use regulatory environment works. Because my Planning degree is from a Canadian university, much of my coursework was rooted in the Canadian legal framework. There are many similarities between Canada’s and the United States’ environmental and land use systems and processes; however, at the end of the day, I had to teach myself the regulatory environment in the US. I read, studied, and asked a lot of questions of my colleagues and professional friends. I was fortunate to be involved in projects from cradle to grave which allowed me to be exposed to so many processes and to learn very quickly. My current role requires me to understand the permitting process in every state that we develop in, and this same skill set of questioning and figuring things out has helped me navigate unfamiliar permit processes and potential risks. 

What is the best decision you ever made at work or that impacted your career? And the worst? 

I was born and raised in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, and both of my degrees are from Canadian institutions. In my final months of graduate school in Toronto, I decided to take a vacation and see a good friend who was doing her Ph.D. at UC Davis; she convinced me to apply for positions in California while visiting her. I interviewed at a few places, and within weeks of graduation, I accepted a position with a consulting firm in San Francisco and moved there 2 weeks after receiving my degree. That was the best decision I ever made. 

I have made several smaller decisions where I wish I decided differently. Fortunately, I don’t think any of those fall in the category of the “worst decision I ever made;” however, I have learned from these experiences to trust myself and my gut feelings.  

What advice would you give to the next generation of the workforce? What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career? 

  1. Choose a career in something that you are truly interested in because that is where you will excel. 
  2. Goals are great, but always keep an open mind to new opportunities; you never know where they will take you and every experience is valuable even if it’s not obvious at first. 
  3. Always have a mentor, regardless of where you are at in your career. No single mentor can give you all the advice you need, so have several. 
  4. Forming trusting relationships by being gracious and honest will take you a long way. 
  5. Ask questions if you don’t completely understand. 

 

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