Tell us about yourself and your background.
My early background was in manufacturing automation as a field applications engineer and product manager in the electronics industry, working alongside customers to ensure that systems met their needs.
This automation experience led to an opportunity in renewables early in the shift to clean energy adoption. I started working on the utility side of renewables integration through a controls company in Fort Collins, CO. During those eight years, I had the opportunity to work with innovative utility leaders in the space, such as Green Mountain Power, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Danish transmission operator, where the focus was enabling higher penetrations of renewable and distributed resources into their system. We explored grid resiliency concepts such as “Smart Grid” and “Utility Scale Microgrids,” eventually leading to early-stage Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) solutions.
I then took a role with a large-scale photovoltaic (PV) inverter manufacturing company, where utility interactive controls were becoming more critical for successfully integrating large-scale renewable plants with the grid. Over my four years there, I helped manage the company’s utility-scale PV offerings.
What is your current role at Stem?
I joined AlsoEnergy in October of 2021 – right before the company was acquired by Stem – as the Director of Product, Energy Storage. In this current role, I work with stakeholders to develop and execute the overall strategy around incorporating more energy storage capability into our products and solutions, such as PowerTrack.
We are seeing significant growth in hybrid solar and energy storage, and this is driving the evolution of asset management and O&M solutions, which need to enable the objectives of a wide variety of users. Also, the composition of how ESS hardware is procured and integrated is evolving. Experienced EPCs and developers are looking at managing costs through component-level procurement and relying on monitoring & controls providers to take a larger integration role. My job is to help shape our strategy and execution around enabling those types of services.
What is the most interesting project that you’ve worked on lately?
We really dug in deep to enhance support for energy storage using PowerTrack, and that was a large focus when I first started. It’s interesting that with energy storage, you come across a lot of variabilities with how these sites are constructed; they include variants of AC-coupled, DC-coupled, and even DC-coupled mixed with standalone solar. We work through all these scenarios while trying to normalize and provide a consistent view to the customer about how they can interact with and understand how those assets are performing.
AlsoEnergy has been a leader in the PV space for a long time, and we’re now in a position to elevate our energy storage offerings through our collaboration with Stem. We can now share data and information between the PowerTrack application and the AI-driven Athena® platform, in order to drive towards a single pane of glass view. So, if you have a Stem-managed site and an AlsoEnergy-monitored PV site, you now have access to both product portfolios and expertise.
What recent industry trends have made a big impression on you?
I think productized solutions from battery OEMs – such as DC Blocks – are a game changer in the overall composition of how these large-scale energy storage plants are built. With the right level of experience and project scale, EPCs and developers can go directly to the large-scale battery OEM to procure DC Blocks, direct to the inverter manufacturers, and direct to the controls vendor to bring it together on-site. That’s a big shift that’s happening on a subset of larger-scale projects, and we’re seeing more large-scale battery OEMs providing these productized DC Blocks that are helping enable that shift.
Customers are looking for trusted partners to support them across this spectrum of integrated and disaggregated solutions, and enable supply chain flexibility. So, we are prepared on our side to be able to meet customers where they are and work across a range of integration situations. And with our combined expertise with the supply chain as well as onsite controls for utility-scale projects, we’re in an excellent position to do so.
Any advice for new professionals interested in the energy space?
It’s a very dynamic industry, and you should look for a toehold in an area you feel passionate about. It’s likely that the organization you would be a part of will continue to evolve, so there’s an opportunity to shape your role and hone in on what interests you.
I think the energy space really provides a lot of opportunity for new professionals. If you are looking for that high-growth and dynamic atmosphere, you should consider an organization focused less on commoditization and more where value creation and innovation are happening.
One last idea that comes to mind is that you need to be comfortable with the ambiguity and adaptation that comes with being in a dynamic industry. If you go into it expecting change, then you won’t be disappointed when change does happen. The PV industry went through this – they don’t call it a solar coaster for nothing. We need fresh perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking to really help with the transition to clean energy.
What about Stem would you like our partners to know?
What makes me most excited about working in this combined company of Stem and AlsoEnergy is that AlsoEnergy is a recognized, household name on the PV side of the business; and the same can be said for Stem with respect to energy storage. So you really have two best-in-class organizations, cultures, and capabilities that have come together at the same time as the industry is coming together and looking to hybridize PV and energy storage.
As an organization, we’re taking a very hard look at how we enable customers up and down the entire value chain in regard to on-site controls and enabling asset management and O&M for our partners. We have a fantastic opportunity to build on our asset management solutions with the 10+ years of energy storage operational experience from Stem’s Network Operation Center (NOC), where we can shape experience and industry know-how into AI-based solutions.
As we demonstrated our new single pane of glass solutions for energy storage and PV to customers at this year’s RE+ event, it was fantastic to see their eyes light up when they realized the value this can bring to their operations. The positive reactions and feedback from customers are definitely something that validates the investments that we’re making in our unified platform.