Welcome Dave Rogers: New Expert in the Clean Power Community - [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]
- Nov 24, 2020 11:14 am GMT
One way or another, the energy sector is going to clean power. We may be left debating which sources of clean energy should be implemented where, how the markets will shift, and what this energy transition will look like, but we’re on our way to a new look of the energy sector.
The fact that this shift is on an inevitable path does not mean it will come without challenges, though, and for overcoming the hurdles that this widescale energy transition—unprecedented in scope and scale—looking to expert leadership is vital. Within the Energy Central Clean Power group, we’re always looking to add new professionals to our official Network of Experts who can help by providing insights, lessons learned, advice, and guidance for the rest of the community as they undergo that shift. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing the newest member of our Clean Power Community, Dave Rogers.
Dave is the President of New Version Energy and he brings with him several decades of experience across the energy space, from utilities to private companies to his own firm. He’s seen the gradual growth of clean energy in its earlier days and he’s now working hard to advance that transformation even more quickly. As he helps shepherd in that new era of clean power, he’ll also be joining Energy Central as a registered expert. And to jump start that role, he joined me for an interview with the official Energy Central Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: Welcome to Energy Central and I know our community welcomes you as an expert. To kick things off, can you simply begin by sharing a bit about your background in the utility space, how you got involved, and what your role looks like today?
Dave Rogers: My adventures in power development began when I joined gas fired developer Destec (sold by Dow to Dynergy) in the late 1990s after a stint in natural gas with Tenneco. After navigating the merchant power boom, the Enron collapse led me to renewable energy, first wind then solar. Earlier this year I started consultancy New Version Energy, growing my client base through ESG and renewable power development efforts which include offshore wind, solar PV, and hydro.
MC: Clearly your career path has taken you across many different organizations and different types of organizations as well. Have you seen that how companies think about energy varies based on where they’re positioned within the sector? Are there blind spots that you’re able to fill in with your more well-rounded experience?
DR: Post-Enron, it was obvious that the energy merchants maintained a significant back office workforce that practically evaporated in a matter of months. Recognizing that this back office provided essential services (transmission interconnection, generating plant due diligence, commodity risk management), I established my first consulting firm Wires-Pipes Inc. Shortly thereafter, U.S. LNG imports (I know, wrong direction) took off and I was able to expand my client base until the shale revolution reversed the flow.
To your point on blind spots, large energy corporates are less nimble and I was fortunate to help some steer their “ocean liners.” My mission today is the same but with the focus on renewable energy and as a shameless plug I think hydro power has been overlooked. I’m working on a Run of the River project in Louisiana that compares favorably with wind and solar.
MC: Regardless of the path various companies took to get there, it seems pretty unanimous across the board that a transition towards clean power, at least to some degree, is a necessary cornerstone for the industry moving forward. How do you think the industry can best work collaboratively to meet those goals? Or do you think the better pathway is one of competition rather than collaboration?
DR: All significant development efforts in energy are capital intensive. What we are seeing now is the lending institutions, influenced by younger, globally- and environmentally-conscious analysts and decision makers, and increasingly from a position of strength, are conditioning access to funds to ESG.
With this stick, oil and gas producers are starting to voluntarily embrace climate change (see methane reduction and responsible natural gas) to help them attract sustaining capital. As for a carrot, while many contend that commitment to ESG yields better performing companies (the competition you mention), validation is less clear cut.
MC: As you look to this coming decade where meaningful clean energy targets are in place across the country and the world, are there any potential challenges out there that you think are flying under the radar that are going to make that transition more difficult than people in the industry might be anticipating? And how do you try to plan for any hurdles that come about that are unexpected?
DR: I’ll always remember how disastrous Enron’s foray into India was. Yes, citizens were held back from lack of electricity, but the cost for greenfield power plants meant the customer couldn’t afford the light bill. Similarly, while California went whole hog into renewables, they missed the lesson that Texas learned: there is an uncomfortable truth that intermittency carries a load-following cost that green developers like to avoid.
Until battery storage tech catches up, let’s have a vehicle to pay gas fired developers to install grid supporting generation.
MC: What has your experience been on the Energy Central platform and within the community? What motivated you to join?
DR: So far, I have been impressed by the technical capabilities of the Energy Central contributors. My main motivation for joining Energy Central was to support a group think to replace the long-range planning and strategy departments that predominated producer and pipeline companies in the 80’s and 90’s.
Surrendering that role to private equity shops, in my humble opinion, has created today’s short term focused corporate climate that struggles with shocks like COVID, the Shale Revolution, and the Financial Crisis.
MC: I’ll give you the final word here—any last thoughts for our readers?
DR: To your point on collaboration, I think your older readers can remember when Speaker Tip O’Neil and President Ronald Regan fought all day but respected each other during the evening Happy Hour. I’d like to see traditional oil & gas and green energy to do the same: supporting your side while respecting the other.
Please join me in thanking Dave Rogers for his time in this interview and for his accepted role as a Clean Power expert in the Energy Central community. When you see Dave engaging with content around Energy Central, be sure to say hi, ask a question, and make him feel welcome!
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