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Friday, April 12, 2024

Power List 2023: Energy

Joe Brannan
Ben Catt
Lynn Good
Michael Gray
Carson Harkrader*

Julie Janson
Roy Jones
Mike Kilpatrick
Maria Kingery
Katherine Kollins

Erik Lensch
Charlotte Mitchell
Usman Noor
Tyler Norris
Daren Parker

J. Eric Pike
Brian Savoy
Jay Wileman
Markus Wilhelm


CARSON HARKRADER

CEO | Carolina Solar Energy III
Durham

With project names like Turkey Creek, Horseshoe Bend and Flat Run, Harkrader might be expected to head a small family company. Wrong. With her father, solar energy pioneer Richard Harkrader, she is building one of the Southeast’s largest utility-scale solar energy developers, with nearly 50 projects pumping out renewable energy in North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia. Another 10 are under development.

The Durham-based company is family owned, and built on the foundation Richard Harkrader laid in 2007 when he built the first utility-size solar farm in the Southeast, at N.C. State University. 

Harkrader joined in 2012 after working for GE Energy. She became CEO in 2018 upon her father’s retirement. She’s pushed Carolina Solar expansion into western North Carolina and Kentucky, working with Duke Energy, to help the state become the second-biggest producer of solar power behind California. With degrees from Brown University and New York University, she is also active in the Carolinas Clean Energy Business Association.

Favorite family tradition: My son, 5, loves to travel and is very adventurous. I just took him skiing for the first time. Introducing him to new things and seeing his excitement and eagerness to learn about the world is my favorite thing to do with him. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: The great outdoors — whether the beach, mountains or rivers. We’re lucky to have it all here in N.C.

Major inspiration: I am inspired by the enormity of the challenge we face in attempting to reduce the impacts of climate change on our planet. 

Top career highlight: Since the summer of 2020, Carolina Solar Energy has hired undergraduate interns remotely in the fall, spring and summer. It has been really exciting to see some of our interns go on to get jobs working in clean energy. Working in renewables is so rewarding, and I love playing a part in helping get young, smart people into our industry.

Favorite hobby after work: I enjoy cooking a new or favorite recipe, or going for a walk outside.

Best advice for industry newcomer: You’re in the right place. The clean energy industry will only continue to grow, and it’s a great place to grow a career.

Key industry change in next five years: Sourcing challenges and tariffs, community engagement, and the urgent need to holistically upgrade our country’s transmission system to accept new renewable energy are my top three concerns.


JOE BRANNAN

executive VP, CEO | North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives
Raleigh

Brannan worked as chief operating officer for six years before taking the helm in 2012. The group is owned by its 26 not-for-profit co-ops that serve 2.5 million people in North Carolina. He has degrees from Pennsylvania State University and Lehigh University. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Hatteras Island and Grandfather Mountain. Both of these places showcase the unique and natural beauty of our state.

What do you listen to on your commute: Financial news on Bloomberg Radio and the classic vinyl music station on SiriusXM.

Best advice for industry newcomer: Grow your intellectual and critical thinking capabilities while absorbing as much knowledge as possible. Then you can pursue practical paths toward new opportunities.

Key industry change in five years: As energy use increases, greater coordination will be required at all levels between energy supply and delivery to ensure reliable electric service.

BEN CATT

CEO | Pine Gate Renewables 
Asheville

The provider of utility-scale solar and storage sites operates in 21 states and through partnerships feeds clean energy into the electricity grid. An Indiana University alum, Catt was  previously finance director at Asheville’s FLS Energy. Last June, Pine Gate received $500 million in funding from San Francisco-based Generate Capital. 

LYNN GOOD

CEO | Duke Energy 
Charlotte

Ranked among “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes, Good has led the giant utility since 2013. The Miami University of Ohio graduate joined Duke predecessor company Cinergy in Cincinnati in 2002. She had total compensation of  $21.3 million last year, a 30% bump from a year earlier. Earlier this year, she and other Duke execs moved into a new corporate tower in downtown Charlotte. 

Favorite family tradition: Gathering with family during the holidays.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: The mountains

What do you listen to on your commute: News

Favorite hobbies after work: Reading, travel and golf. 

MICHAEL GRAY

country holding officer, U.S. | ABB
Cary 

The company, with 105,000 employees worldwide, makes everything from electric motors and EV chargers to robots, electrification and automation systems. Gray joined in 2008, after previous stints with AutoZone and International Paper Co. He holds business and international finance degrees from the University of Memphis and a master’s in taxation.

JULIE JANSON

executive vice president, CEO | Duke Energy Carolinas
Charlotte

Janson, 58, began her career with Duke predecessor Cinergy in Cincinnati. She currently leads regulatory affairs and legislative initiatives in the Carolinas after previously overseeing external affairs and serving as president for the Carolinas. She has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in Kentucky and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati.

ROY JONES

CEO | ElectriCities North Carolina
Raleigh

In 2015, the LaSalle University graduate became CEO of the group made up of about 90 community-owned electric systems in the Carolinas and Virginia. With a degree in electrical engineering from LaSalle University, he has more than four decades of experience in the electrical utility industry. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains.

What do you listen to on your commute: Absolutely nothing. I enjoy the silence. 

Major inspiration: My father. He was one of the most kind-hearted individuals I’ve ever met. 

Favorite hobby after work: Spending time with family on the lake. 

MIKE KILPATRICK 

founder | STG Solar 
Pisgah Forest 

Kilpatrick has built his business into one of the Southeast’s largest solar contractors. He was formerly an electrical subcontractor, laying electrical lines for projects like hotels. The company has 200 employees, and has completed more than 200 solar farms in six states.  

What do you listen to on your commute: Mostly country music. 

Major inspiration: My drive has been to do the best I can to provide for my wife and our three boys. Today, we have been blessed and our family has grown to include others that I love and continue to work hard for.

Top career highlight: Solar Power World recognized my company as one of the Top Solar Contractors in 2022, and being nominated for North Carolina employer of the year in 2022.

Favorite hobby after work: Hiking, mountain
biking, camping. Watching a good campfire burn, while listening to the tree frogs and crickets is a perfect way to end your day. 

Best advice for industry newcomer: Decide what it is you want in your career. Write it down. Realize everything in life has a price, and you must pay that price to enjoy those rewards. Lastly, don’t put money in front of the things that matter most. God, family, friends, and then your profession.    

MARIA KINGERY

chief impact officer | Southern Energy Management 
Raleigh 

Kingery calls on her experience to help others attain financial, social and environmental sustainability in their similar efforts. The N.C. State University graduate has experience in solar- and green-building industries. She and her husband, Bob, founded the business in 2001.

KATHERINE KOLLINS

president | Southeastern Wind Coalition
Raleigh 

Based in the Triangle since 2012, the organization lobbies for the wind energy industry in the Carolinas, Virginia and Louisiana. Kollins, who worked for RTI International before joining the coalition in 2015, earned a bachelor’s in environmental management and an MBA at Duke University.

ERIK LENSCH

CEO | Leyline Renewable Capital 
Durham

After more than a decade working for financial institutions, Lensch acquired his first company, a distributor of solar equipment. After selling it to an investment company in 2014, the Radford University graduate started his business to fund biogas and solar projects nationwide. 

CHARLOTTE MITCHELL

chair | N.C. Utilities Commission 
Raleigh 

Appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2017, Mitchell leads the agency that regulates utilities that provide electricity, telephone, natural gas and other services. She came to UNC Chapel Hill from Texas as a Morehead Scholar and varsity soccer player. She later earned a law degree at UNC and a master’s degree at Duke University.

USMAN NOOR

owner | 8MSolar 
Wake Forest 

Noor’s company has installed more than 1,000 residential, commercial and other solar energy systems since 2015. He has engineering degrees from the National University of Sciences & Technology in Pakistan and Cleveland State, and a 2015 MBA from Case Western University. 

TYLER NORRIS

VP of development | Cypress Creek Renewables 
Durham 

Norris joined the San Francisco-based renewable energy developer in 2017 after working in various public policy posts. He was a White House appointee to the U.S. Department of Energy from 2012-15, focusing on technology transfer. Named “Clean Energy Leader of the Year” by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association in
2019, he has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

DAREN PARKER

owner | Parker Gas Co. 
Fayetteville

Parker’s company, which was founded in 1958, provides propane delivery, appliance sales and service in southeastern and central North Carolina. The Rapid Xchange division provides cylinder exchanges to thousands of mid-Atlantic state retailers. Parker has a business degree from East Carolina University.

J. ERIC PIKE

CEO | Pike Corp. 
Mount Airy

With 100 offices and 10,000 employees, the 75-year-old company provides engineering, maintenance, construction and other services for electric utilities, and similar work for telecommunications clients, wired or wireless. Pike has been chairman and CEO since 1998, and holds a 1990 history degree from Emory University. 

BRIAN SAVOY

CFO | Duke Energy
Charlotte

Savoy succeeded Steve Young as chief financial officer in August after serving as chief transformation and administrative officer. He joined Duke in 2001 as a manager in its trading unit. He previously worked as a manager at Deloitte & Touche, an international accounting firm. He has a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University in Texas and a Duke University MBA. 

Favorite family tradition: We host my wife’s sister and her family at Thanksgiving and enjoy a fantastic meal and rich conversation.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Two favorites —
Grandfather Mountain and PNC Arena watching Carolina Hurricanes hockey.  

What do you listen to on your commute: Business news. CNBC “Squawk Box” in the morning and “Fast Money” in the evening.  

Favorite hobby: Golfing with my wife or friends
or soaking up rays at the beach or at the pool. 

JAY WILEMAN

president | GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy 
Wilmington 

The company provides nuclear reactors and other services worldwide. He came to this position in 2015, after decades in sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, Italy, Australia and South Africa, often in oil, rail and coal. He has degrees in business and nuclear engineering from Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama. 

MARKUS WILHELM

co-founder, CEO | Strata Solar 
Durham

After 25 years in publishing, media and direct marketing, the German native started a construction company building environmentally green homes. That morphed into Strata Solar in 2009, a privately held, pioneering solar energy developer in North Carolina. Clients have included the U.S. Department of Defense, Bayer and GSK.

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