Charging Up: Women’s cleantech career moves at DOE, Energy Vault, Shoals, The Ray and more

Energy Secretary Granholm gets a new senior advisor, women lead the SPAC that’s merging with Heliogen, and a new college program will train women for jobs servicing EVs.

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Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles women’s career advancements in the cleantech sector. Please continue to send us feedback and tips at [email protected]​canarymedia.​com.

Career moves

Kate Gordon is now senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Gordon was previously director of the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as well as a senior policy advisor on climate to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. Gordon previously served on the boards of Vote Solar and Carbon180, a nonprofit dedicated to finding and deploying carbon-removal solutions at scale.* 

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Heliogen, a startup with a new spin on concentrated solar power, expects to be worth $2 billion after merging with special-purpose acquisition company Athena Technology Acquisition Corporation later this year. Athena is led by investor and FinTech founder Isabelle Freidheim and cybersecurity founder and CEO of Xtreme Solutions Phyllis Newhouse.

Andrea Wuttke, formerly CFO of sustainable hydropower startup Natel Energy, has joined Energy Vault as CFO. Energy Vault is developing gravity- and kinetic-energy-based long-duration energy storage systems. Canary Media reported on the company’s recent investment from the venture arm of Saudi Aramco, which added to SoftBank’s $110 million investment in 2019. The Energy Vault system’s six crane arms use electricity to hoist purpose-built composite blocks and stack them into a tower; rapidly lowering the blocks discharges electricity. 

A commercial deployment of Energy Vault's gravity-based energy storage system. (Energy Vault)

Laura Rogers was promoted to deputy director of The Ray, a highway proving ground for sustainable transportation technology located in Georgia.

Shoals Technologies, a publicly traded supplier of electrical balance-of-system products for solar and energy storage projects, hired Jessica Uecker, previously with Plumrose, as senior VP of human resources. 

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Elizabeth Fajardo was promoted to senior regional sales manager and Rebecca Powell was promoted to supervisor of project operations at residential solar market leader Sunrun. The company expects to grow its new installed capacity by 25 to 30 percent in 2021, adding about 750 megawatts over the course of the year.

Estela de Llanos was promoted to VP of energy supply and sustainability at San Diego Gas & Electric.

Ana-Paula (AP) Issa is returning to Encycle as executive VP of sales. Encycle claims its HVAC efficiency solution can reduce energy costs and consumption by 10 to 20 percent with little or no capital investment. 

Mia Oppelstrup, previously with Volta Charging, is joining Recurve as building decarbonization lead. According to its website, Recurve connects the dots between efficiency, electrification, renewable energy and [distributed energy resources] to enable demand flexibility to become a market-based procurable resource.”

Kelly Roache, former research and communications specialist at the Energy and Policy Institute, is now manager of policy and community solar at Renewable Properties, a developer and investor in small-scale utility and community solar energy projects.

Expanding women’s opportunities

50/50 Women on Boards helps drive businesses toward gender balance and diversity on corporate boards. As of March of this year, women held just 24.4 percent of total board seats, according to the organization’s research.

With backing from the National Science Foundation, Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California is planning to launch an all-female electric vehicle tech training academy, which will help build the workforce needed to meet the growth and service needs of EVs.

*Correction, 13 July 2021: An earlier version of this article stated that Kate Gordon was currently serving on the boards of Vote Solar and Carbon180, but she has since clarified that she is no longer active on any boards engaged in energy/​climate policy.”

New York (two children dancing) by photographer Helen Levitt, ca. 1940

Eric Wesoff is the managing editor of Canary Media. He's a prominent industry journalist, analyst, writer, consultant, speaker and expert witness in the renewable energy field.