Clean Energy Policy Professionals: What Does it Take to Thrive?

Looking for a job in clean energy policy? Here are some tips from an experienced professional at Qcells USA.

Skill Sets for Leading the Transitioning to a Cleaner and More Reliable Grid

Around 2014, I was watching highlights on national news of graduation ceremonies and a piece of advice was given that I had not received before. A lady stated in front of a sea of graduates, “It is not always about how to use your voice, but when to use your voice.” That piece of advice was life-changing for me. 

For most of my life, I have been outgoing and full of energy. I am not afraid to speak my mind or drive a new change or initiative to implementation. What came to me at that moment was while I had the “energy” to drive change, it was the method by which I should drive change that helped me achieve new heights in my professional growth.

Now, 18 years into the energy industry, it has been some ride.  Luckily for me, I am not afraid of taking new risks and learning new facets of the business. Due to my adventurous mentality, I have worked in Energy Settlements, Day-Ahead Scheduling, Client Relations, Enterprise Risk Management as well as GHG Reporting/Sustainability, however, nothing compares to my love and passion for energy policy work. 

Currently, I am the Director of Policy and Market Strategy at Hanwha Qcells USA Corp (Qcells USA). Qcells USA is a utility-scale solar and energy storage developer, EPC provider (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) as well as Independent Power Producer. I spearhead my company’s involvement in Federal, State, Utility/RTO/ISO, and some local affairs regarding utility-scale solar and storage. 

I love energy policy because I have a front-row seat to see the growth and evolution take place within the energy sector. Back when I started my career in 2005, significant renewable development seemed like a faraway dream. Coal was the baseload resource back in the mid-2000s and around 2009 natural gas, due to fracking, began a new world of “natural gas switching”. This meant at times, natural gas would be the baseload resource rather than coal. This was my first real fuel mix disrupter experience.  At the time, I had no idea how this was just the beginning of many changes in the industry.

Below are my personal thoughts regarding the skill sets of a great regulatory policy leader that normally does not make it to the job description. My goal is to inspire others to not only make positive changes in the world but do so in a positive and formidable manner. 

1.     See something, say something – Policy professionals typically have the great opportunity to be the eyes and ears of the company. At times you can feel alone since you may spend more time with individuals outside of your company. Use your valuable insight you learn from others in the industry to come back internally to provide best practices, insights, and everything you can to foster a growth mindset internally, and do not shy away from being a change catalyst.

2.     Collaborator – I once had an RTO personnel tell me how they had a site visit with a utility, and it turned out individuals at that utility were open to ideas that were never vocalized by the individual that represented that utility. I was in shock when I heard this story. It is not about your personal view; it is about gathering insights and feedback from all appropriate internal parties to form a company position.

3.     Risk Management – At times, trying to establish a company position can be very tumultuous and polarizing. By utilizing great risk management skills, one can start to dive into the data and develop a risk matrix to guide the company to a policy position. 

4.     Amplifier – Once internal alignment is established, review the political landscape to develop a plan on where and when to amplify the company position.  At times, if one is in too many meetings or in a place where it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel—that is when bad choices are often made on when/how your voice is used. I have learned there is always a tomorrow. Meaning, silence in a moment may be the best option until one has regrouped and has a fresh start to state a message in a positive fashion.

I hope I inspired you to think within your own organization as well as your personal life where you can be a positive force for change. I am a believer we have come a long way in the energy industry and personally, I am just getting started when it comes to transitioning to a more reliable and clean grid. Please reach out and I would love to work together to see where we can be a positive voice for change, amyjo.miller@qcells.com.

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