Another week brings moves and shifts at the upper levels of renewable energy.
Jon Wellinghoff, the chief policy officer at SolarCity, left the company now that it has merged with Tesla. It makes sense that Tesla is integrating its respective legislative and policy teams with SolarCity. Letting go of a skilled ex-FERC commissioner appears to make less sense.
Wellinghoff's LinkedIn page has him now at Policy/DER Consulting. The firm "assists energy tech companies from startups to fully commercialized enterprises to get to market and expand markets by addressing critical policy barriers to business success."
Wellinghoff was the longest-serving chair in FERC's history, leading efforts to fit PV and wind into wholesale electric markets, and to ensure that resources like demand response and distributed generation could participate. Wellinghoff also served as general counsel at the Nevada PUC. He was at SolarCity for one year and one month. We've reached out to him for a comment.
President Donald Trump nominated former Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to serve as president of the Export-Import Bank. The 80-year-old U.S. Ex-Im Bank's mission is to provide loans, guarantees and credits that allow foreign buyers to finance U.S. exports and U.S. exporters to get paid. The bank claims that a large majority of its customers are small businesses. Here's a tweet from the nominee in 2015.
And so the Trump streak of heading U.S. government departments with folks who have advocated for the agency's extinction continues (see DeVos for Education, Perry for Energy, and Pruitt for EPA).
Since 2009, the total support from the bank for renewable energy exports was almost $2 billion. Many countries and regions that export products (59 in fact) have export-import banks meant to provide a boost to domestic exports and jobs.
Trump was also a critic of the Ex-Im Bank, toeing the line of the Freedom Caucus, until he met with the CEOs of Boeing and other firms recently. Then, Trump told the The Wall Street Journal, “Actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money; it could make a lot of money."
The job requires Senate confirmation.
Steve Case joined the board of fuel-cell builder Bloom Energy in August 2014. Today, he's no longer on the board. He was replaced by Mary K. Bush at the turn of the year. Late last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloom submitted a confidential registration for its IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 15-year-old startup claims to have installed more than 200 megawatts of its Bloom boxes in the U.S.
Speaking of fuel-cell company boards, Plug Power elected Luke Schneider to its board of directors. Schneider is CEO of Silvercar, a rental car startup, and was previously CTO of Zipcar. Plug just announced that Amazon has won the rights to buy up to 23 percent of the firm, in a deal that has Amazon spending $70 million for fuel cells this year and $600 million over the course of the engagement.
Microinverter and energy storage system builder Enphase named Badri Kothandaraman as its first COO. Kothandaraman started with Cypress Semiconductor in 1995 and worked in process technology and chip design before becoming a VP in 2008 and subsequently executive VP of Cypress's data communications division.
Here are the recent actions taken by microinverter maker Enphase:
- In January, T.J. Rodgers, founder of Cypress Semiconductor, and John Doerr, chairman of Kleiner Perkins, invested $10 million in the firm. Rodgers joined the board.
- A "restructuring action" in late January laid off approximately 18 percent of Enphase's workforce.
- A secondary offering of common stock in 2016 resulted in net proceeds of approximately $16.2 million.
- During the first quarter of 2017, Enphase realized net proceeds of approximately $11.3 million under its At Market Issuance Sales Agreement.
- In February, Enphase extended and refinanced its term loan facility from $25 million to $50 million.
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Brian Dillard joined zinc-bromide flow battery maker Primus Power as VP of business development and product management. He was most recently executive director of systems electronics and integration at Johnson Controls, where he led the technology direction of the firm's stationary energy storage business. Primus just won $32 million in financing from Success Dragon, Matador Capital, Anglo American Platinum, DBL Partners, I2BF and the Russia Kazakhstan Nanotechnology Fund. CEO Tom Stepien's firm has raised $94 million in equity and $20 million in government grants since 2009.
Nat Kreamer, the CEO of Spruce Finance, is now the outgoing chairman of the board of directors at the Solar Energy Industries Association. Tom Starrs of SunPower, vice chairman, will become the acting chairman.
From the previous jobs column:
As GTM's Stephen Lacey reported, Lightsource Renewable Energy, a European developer, is expanding into the U.S. utility-scale PV market with a team of solar and battery storage vets. Leading the team are Lightsource CEO Tim Derrick, the former GM of utility-scale solar and wind at SunEdison; COO Kevin Christy, the former operations officer of SunEdison's North American utility arm; and CCO Katherine Ryzhaya, the former commercial officer at Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS). Derrick and Christy co-founded Axio Power, a utility-scale developer acquired by SunEdison in 2011. Ryzhaya co-founded AMS, a developer and integrator of behind-the-meter storage projects that utilities control. All three of them worked together on a joint SunEdison-AMS 50-megawatt project for Southern California Edison.