From City Development to Energy Development
Article by Jacqui Kitchen, Senior Development Manager
Throughout most of my career, I have served the public as a land use planner and municipal administrator. During my 14 years in the public sector, I was fortunate to work on projects that improved the quality of life in the community I lived in; including the development of affordable housing, improved transportation networks, better accessibility in underserved neighborhoods, enhanced public park amenities, supporting economic development throughout the City, and more.
One of my favorite aspects of the job was meeting with developers from all industry types; including agriculture, industrial, commercial, master planned communities, energy, and beyond… and helping them to achieve their development goals in a way that benefited the local community and ensured that the projects remained financially viable.
Early in my career, I also worked with a variety of bright minds in the renewable energy space and partnered with them to permit utility-scale wind, solar and other types of energy projects in California’s Central Valley and Mojave Desert. I was struck by the purpose and importance of energy development and fascinated by the complexity of our nation’s grid and growing energy diversification. I formed lasting relationships with passionate developers focused on a variety of technologies.
In 2021, renewable energy was continuing to grow an accelerated pace, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join Lightsource bp as a Developer of utility-scale solar.
Many asked me why I would leave a career in public service, and a job that I loved. For me, the move was a logical next phase in helping to build stronger communities.
This is because access to energy has become a basic human right and a universal need in our modern world that is equally as important as access to reliable housing, safe drinking water and public education. Working to grow and diversify our nation’s energy supply is a form of public service, as it helps to strengthen our economy, empower communities to flourish, and strengthens our energy independence. Which, as the war in Ukraine reminds us, will continue to be critically important for decades to come.
There are many top tier companies throughout the world engaging in this work, and one of the key reasons I chose Lightsource bp is our “Responsible Solar” development approach, which includes a firm commitment to sustainable land use practices that account for the unique growth plans established by local communities.
As someone with a passion for developing thriving living environments, this is particularly important to me. The Lightsource bp leadership team has empowered Developers to live these practices each day by:
- Taking the time to study and understand local Land Use Plans,
- Engage with local elected officials and community members to understand local priorities, and,
- Siting our projects in a thoughtful way that respects local goals and provides new tax revenues that can be used to compliment plans for future growth.
With this support from Lightsource bp, I feel confident approaching communities to share the benefits that our projects can bring. I am excited to provide information about the way our projects add to the regional electricity grid, support local economies, and in many cases keep land locally owned. And I am proud to commit to being a long-term member of the areas where we work by supporting local chambers of commerce, establishing community funds to help achieve local goals, and being a good neighbor through considerate site design, the establishment of vegetative screening and high-quality O&M operations. We strive to be not just good neighbors, but great ones!
As 2023 kicks off, I see a bright future ahead for America. There are many opportunities for the energy industry and the public to work together to continue to improve our quality of life, and I am excited to be a part of it!