Wednesday, February 28, 2024


The shift from fossil fuels to alternative sources such as wind and solar is a front-page issue in North Carolina. The state is home to Duke Energy, one of the largest U.S. electric utilities, and it has ranked with California and Texas for having the most solar energy capacity nationally for several years. Key industry leaders are cited in this section.


CEO | North Carolina Electric Membership Corp.


A Pennsylvania State University and Lehigh University graduate, Brannan, 57, was named the cooperative’s CEO in 2012. Its 26 members provide energy to 2.5 million people in 93 North Carolina counties.
Employer’s distinction: We have a unique partnership, helping people who have a vested interest in us.

North Carolina’s challenge: Expanding opportunities in traditional and recruited industries and investing in education and workforce development

Best advice: Treat people with respect and integrity.

Favorite recent books: The Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman and How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates


president | Tokai Carbon GE


Carlton, who holds an MBA from UNC Charlotte, was North America president for SGL Carbon for more than a decade before taking his post in 2017. The graphite-electrode manufacturer announced a $25 million investment in a Fulton, Ky., plant in January.


CEO | Pine Gate Renewables


An Indiana University graduate, Catt, 41, oversees the 200-employee solar company where he has closed more than $2 billion in financing. It was named to Inc.’s 2020 Best in Business list.
First job: Mowing lawns at age 10

Employer’s distinction: We’re independently owned, unlike many of our competitors, whose innovation can be stifled by large parent companies. Our meritocracy keeps us up front in a rapidly changing market.

North Carolina’s challenge: We are in danger of falling behind. Collaboration between legislators, utilities and communities is needed to tackle complicated issues.


CEO | E4 Carolinas


Doctor was named CEO of the trade association, which fosters collaboration among Carolina energy companies, in 2014. The University of Detroit Mercy graduate had previously co-founded or led 16 startups, many in the energy sector. Their combined sales exceeded $12 billion.


founder | ClearPath


Faison’s nonprofit reduces emissions from energy and industrial sectors through policy, research and innovation. The UNC Chapel Hill and University of Virginia Darden School of Business graduate was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 for his leadership of SnapAV, which he sold to pursue philanthropy.


CEO | Duke Energy


Good, 61, was promoted to CEO from chief financial officer in 2013. A former partner at Arthur Andersen, she joined Duke predecessor Cinergy in 2002.  The Ohio native won Edison Electric Institute’s Distinguished Leadership Award in January. She holds bachelor’s degrees in systems analysis and accounting from Miami University in Ohio. Duke Energy serves 7.7 million customers.
First job: Helping with record keeping and inventory at my aunt’s women’s clothing store

Favorite recent book: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Favorite music: Alternative and indie rock (My twenty-something sons update the playlist.)


country holding officer, U.S. | ABB


With a background in global taxation, mergers and acquisitions, global financing arrangements and project management, Gray handles the overall financial model of ABB, a Switzerland-based multinational that focuses on power infrastructure, the electrical grid and transportation. He is a University of Memphis graduate.


CEO | SunEnergy1


A native of Australia and professional race car driver, Habul has worked in solar energy since 1996. He started SunEnergy1 in 2010, moving it to North Carolina because of available tax breaks. The Bond University graduate’s company mainly builds utility-scale solar projects that it owns and operates.


CEO | Carolina Solar Energy


Harkrader, 44, has forged solar partnerships and projects in Kentucky and North Carolina since succeeding her father as CEO in 2018. She has degrees from Brown and New York University. Her first job was office manager at a biogas and waste-to-energy startup in Australia.
Employer’s distinction: We’re a small company that’s had outsized results with projects where we add a unique advantage.

North Carolina’s challenge: I am very concerned that people in North Carolina don’t understand that large-scale renewable energy is here and affordable. Instead of it being implemented at scale, policies continue to call for power generation with fossil fuels.

Best advice: Check in frequently with your employees.


chief operating officer | Duke Energy


Jamil, 64, has 40 years of experience in the energy industry and previously was Duke’s chief nuclear officer. An electrical engineering graduate of UNC Charlotte, he helped develop the school’s Energy Production Infrastructure Center, a workforce-development tool for the energy industry.

First job: Assistant electrical engineer at Duke

Best advice: A career is like a tree. How high it goes depends on the depth of its roots. (a former supervisor)

Person you admire: The late Mike Tuckman, a former Duke Energy chief nuclear officer, for his honest communications and visible care for employees

Favorite music: 1970s


executive vice president; CEO, Duke Energy Carolinas | Duke Energy


Janson, 55, oversees regulatory and legislative affairs, the strategic direction, and financial performance of Duke Energy’s utilities in the Carolinas. The University of Cincinnati College of Law graduate also is a foundation trustee, helping award $30 million in grants annually.
First job: Lifeguard

Best advice: Play chess, not checkers.

Person you admire: My mother. Born of a different generation and without formal education beyond high school, she encouraged me to be articulate, driven and educated. 

Favorite recent book: Educated by Tara Westover

Favorite music: What my adult daughters are listening to


CEO | ElectriCities of North Carolina


Jones, 62, has worked at the not-for-profit group of municipal utilities since 2009, first as senior vice president of planning. He became CEO in 2015. A La Salle University graduate, he supports public power communities.
First job: Washing school buses

North Carolina’s challenge: Providing reliable and affordable electricity to homes and businesses throughout this period of uncertainty

Best advice: Always do the right thing, even if it’s unpopular.

Person you admire: Retired High Point City Manager Strib Boynton, who helps communities nationwide deal with disasters as a member of Samaritan’s Purse


chief impact officer | Southern Energy Management
leadership team coach | 360Rocks


Kingery, 53, is board chairwoman of the Amicus Solar Cooperative, which represents 58 independent solar companies nationwide, and a member of the Duke University Environmental Leadership Program. The N.C. State University graduate has been the principal of 360Rocks, which develops entrepreneurial leadership and sustainable operations, since 2015.
First job: Paper route

North Carolina’s challenge: Our divisive political landscape, which has permeated the fabric of our communities. It breeds mistrust that makes it difficult to address common challenges, such as hunger, education, health care and clean energy.

Proud family accomplishments: My son and my husband and life-partner, Bob. It’s been the joy of my life to see them learn and thrive through good and bad times.    

A decision you would change: In 2011, we tried to retain all our employees even though the business couldn’t support them. In hindsight, I would have focused on the greater good, making deeper cuts sooner and in line with what the business needed.          

Favorite recent book: Unleashed by Frances Frei

Favorite music: Improvisational rock


CEO | Leyline Renewable Capital


The former CEO of Entropy Solar Integrators, Lensch started Leyline to provide capital for promising renewable energy ventures in 2016. A Radford University graduate, he was named the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association’s 2020 Clean Energy Innovator of the Year.


chairwoman | N.C. Utilities Commission


Mitchell leads the group that regulates public utilities. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her in July 2017 to a term through June 2023. She has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill and a law degree from Duke University. She previously was in private practice.


CEO | Pike Corp.

Mount Airy

Pike oversees about 10,000 employees at one of the largest U.S. electrical system construction and maintenance companies. The Emory University graduate became CEO in 2002 and led seven acquisitions between 2003 and 2012 that expanded the company’s services to include engineering, gas, telecom and renewable services. It went public in 2005, then Pike led a buyout in 2014.


president | Renu Energy Solutions


A University of Mississippi graduate, Radcliffe has been president of the solar-energy company since 2010. It struggled at the pandemic’s start, but the Paycheck Protection Program and emergency grants stabilized the business. Revenue in 2020 ended 20% higher than the previous year.


vice president, gas operations | Dominion Energy North Carolina


In 1995, Randall started with PSNC Energy, which was purchased by Dominion Energy in 2019. The Clemson University graduate is responsible for customer service, sales and marketing, system operations, maintenance and construction, and project engineering.


CEO | Powerhome Solar


The 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Southeast, Waller, 41, has grown his company to 1,700 employees since 2014. Revenue doubled in 2020. Customers include the Carolina Panthers and four other pro football franchises.
First job: Video store clerk

Employer’s distinction: Helping home-owners generate energy in an environ-mentally friendly way while creating jobs

Proud family accomplishment: My kids — Hannah, McKenzie, Londyn and Christian

Favorite passion: True Underdog, my podcast for entrepreneurs

Person you admire: Tony Robbins. We’re entrepreneurs without college degrees and motivational speakers.

Something surprising: I play water volleyball.


president | GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy


Hired by GE in 1994, Wileman was named president in 2015. He also oversees production of advanced reactors and nuclear services. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


co-founder, CEO | Strata Solar


After 25 years in the media industry, Wilhelm grew his green-construction business into Strata Solar in 2009. It has developed turnkey solar-energy projects for IKEA, Bayer and others. The University of Passau graduate served on the Energy Policy Council of North Carolina.