Energy Career Primer

 “[The energy industry] delves miles beneath continents and oceans. It inverts mountains. It smoothly delivers sophisticated energy carriers like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, natural gas, and electricity to our buildings, vehicles, and factories. It is the foundation of our wealth, the bulwark of our might, the unseen metabolic engine of our modern life. Whenever we drive a car, flip a switch, or heat a house, we enjoy its widely affordable potency, and reliability.”-Amory Lovins, Founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute (See video below)


As Lovins describes, the energy industry is vast, ubiquitous, and vital to our modern livelihood. Fueling our transportation, factories, and buildings, are a host of varied companies and organizations which make up the world’s largest industry.  Add to that variety a host of steep challenges facing the industry, such as resource depletion, pollution, climate change,  meeting the world’s energy demands, and disruptive, new technologies, from hydraulic fracturing to information technologies, and you have a dynamic and shifting industry.

Wherever your interests lie,  from engineering and research to finance and entrepreneurship, chances are there is a place for your skill set within the energy industry. At the Duke Energy Club, we think the energy industry offers tremendous opportunity for careers that are rewarding in all senses of the word. As such, we are proud to present the Energy Career Panel. We hope this event will be a valuable resource to aid you as you explore the exciting opportunities of the industry.

With this primer, we want to introduce you to the companies and professionals joining us for the panel.

Visiting Companies:


Background: ACES is owned by 21 Generation and Transmission Cooperatives and provides services to over 50 additional customers, which include Municipals, IPPs, Financial Institutions, and Renewable Developers. ACES manages over 50,000 MW of both Load and Generation across the country. Headquartered in Carmel, Indiana, ACES also has Trading Centers in Arizona, Indiana, Minnesota, and Raleigh, NC. Some of the other services ACES provides are Portfolio Management, Origination, Fuel Management, Credit and Contract Management, Risk Management and  Regulatory Compliance, Analytical Services, Accounting, and Disaster Recovery.

Chris Newman is a Senior Hourly Trader at ACES.  He has over 17 years experience as both an energy trader and broker in the physical and financial power markets. In his current position Mr. Newman is responsible for the portfolio optimization of multiple clients which include member co-ops and independent power producers. Acting as the “Agent” for his customers Mr. Newman is transacting in the real-time physical power and transmission markets, dispatching generation, managing power purchase agreements, and overseeing demand side management on a daily basis.

Burton Energy Group

Background:The Burton Energy Group is a privately held company that provides energy management services for commercial businesses. Energy management programs are aimed at cutting operating costs, reducing energy consumption, achieving corporate sustainability goals, and mitigating price risk. Management services are provided through a combination of annual utilities budget guidance, sustainability initiatives and energy audits.

George Plattenburg is a Managing Partner at Burton Energy Group and is a graduate of Duke University, from which he holds a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Plattenburg also attended Washington University in St. Louis – Olin Business School, where he received an MBA and studied Marketing and Operations Management. Before becoming a Managing Partner at the Burton Energy Group, Mr. Plattenburg worked at both SCIenergy, Inc. and Servidyne as the Senior Vice President of Sales, Continental Broadband as the Vice President, Prenova as the Vice President of Operations, Strategic Accounts as the Vice President and at Indianapolis Power & Light as a Director.

City of Charlotte

Background: Robert Phocas is the Energy and Sustainability Manager for the city of Charlotte, where he is responsible for developing and implementing the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. Through the implementation of this program, from 17 projects, the city of Charlotte intends to reduce fossil fuel emissions, energy consumption, create new green jobs, and increase the use of renewable technologies.

Robert Phocas has a M.E.M from Duke’s Nicholas School for Environment and Earth Sciences, as well as a J.D degree from the Duke’s School of Law. Mr. Phocas also holds a degree in history from Vassar College and has also studied at the University College of London. Before joining the City of Charlotte as the assistant city attorney for Environmental Law and Policy, Mr. Phocas was an associate attorney at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, an enforcement counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an environmental associate with Hale & Dorr, LLP.


Background: Cree is a vertically-integrated LED lighting innovator, leading the charge to deliver better lighting experiences by disrupting the lighting market in 2013. This was accomplished via the introduction of the first no-compromise LED lighting bulb to break the $10 price barrier, look and light like an incandescent, and consume 78% less energy. Twenty five years ago, Cree was the first to commercialize the blue LED chip, a technology whose inventors’ were awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics. Cree leads the lighting sector through it’s firm grasp of the entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, and aspiration to find a better way to challenge convention and transform industries.

Greg Merritt is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs at Cree, Inc., a leading innovator and supplier of energy efficient LED chips, components and lighting products. Mr. Merritt has been at Cree since 2006, and leads Cree’s marketing and public affairs and government relations activities to promote the widespread adoption of LED lighting. He serves as Member of the Board of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke University. Mr. Merritt holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Virigina, and an MS in Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley.

Energy Intelligence Partners

Background: Energy Intelligence Partners is a firm that specializes in growing companies within the energy space. The firm provides management expertise and high impact, temporary labor to startup and venture-backed portfolio companies. Energy Intelligence Partners also provides asset management services as well as execution for new and existing deals.

Edward May is a Managing Partner at Energy Intelligence Partners and holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Duke Fuqua School of Business, a Masters in Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and a Bachelors of Arts from University of North Carolina. Before Energy Intelligence Partners, Mr. May worked at Lehman Brothers, and was an original member of the Sports Advisory and Finance Group. After Lehman Brothers, Mr. May worked for the US Renewables Group, a $750 million Private Equity Fund.


Background: EnerNOC is a leading provider of cloud-based energy intelligence software (EIS) and services to thousands of enterprise customers and utilities globally. EnerNOC’s EIS solutions for enterprise customers improve energy productivity by optimizing how they buy, how much they use, and when they use energy. EIS for enterprise includes supply management, utility bill management, facility optimization, visibility and reporting, project management, demand management, and demand response.

Nate Anderson is a member of EnerNOC’s Professional Services group where he leads the company’s Strategic Account Management team. Mr. Anderson’s team is focused on driving customer success across EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software (EIS) and services to a population of several hundred strategic customers. Before assuming his current role, Nate was EnerNOC’s Senior Marketing Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region (EnerNOC’s largest geographic market by customer count and revenue). Mr. Anderson is a graduate of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, where he received an MBA. Mr. Anderson also received a Bachelor of Arts in History from The College of Wooster.

Further Information on EIS Software

LP Amina

Background: LP Amina is a multinational environmental engineering company that focuses on providing proprietary solutions for reducing coal and gas fired power plants. These solutions are done through low rank coal upgrading, which strips mercury, sulfur and moisture and naturally creates a high purity CO2 stream, as well as De-NOx technologies for gas-fired power, cement, pulp and paper generation.

Constantin Crachilov joined LP Amina in 2011 and has worked in both Beijing and Charlotte offices. Mr.Crachilov co-leads the Corporate Development department, which is responsible for LP Amina’s corporate strategy, funding, mergers and acquisitions, and international growth. He also leads a number of operations initiatives, including ERP system implementation and ISO quality system development. Mr. Crachilov holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Bachelor of Science in Economics from Harvard University.

Information on Career Opportunities:

2015 LPA Internship and Co-op Offerings

LPA Internship & Co-op Program Guide


Background on Company: PowerSecure International, Inc. is a leading provider of utility and energy technologies to electric utilities, and their industrial, institutional, and commercial customers. The company’s sophisticated solutions include engineered-to-order backup power systems which integrate a peak-shaving energy efficiency capability and provide critical power protection to many vital industries, hospitals and military facilities. PowerSecure also provides utility infrastructure support and emergency repair/power restoration in disaster recovery situations.The company’s energy efficiency business develops energy efficient LED lighting technologies that improve the quality of light for grocery, drug and convenience stores, and street lights for utilities and municipalities.

John Bluth is currently the Senior Vice President in Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at PowerSecure. Before working at PowerSecure, Mr. Bluth worked at Elfster, CV Therapeutics and Aviron and was also the CEO of JBD Communications, LLC. Mr. Bluth also holds a Bachelors of Arts from Cornell University in Biology.

RTCC – Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster

Background: The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster was formed to enhance the Research Triangle’s competitiveness in the cleantech sector by facilitating innovative research and the strategic acceleration of the clean technology economy and reputation. Some directors that participate in the cleantech cluster are internationally renowned companies like Cisco, DukeEnergy, PowerSecure, RTI International, Piedmont Natural Gas, SAS and Siemens. The cluster also includes startups and local companies.

Christa Wagner Vinson is a Program Manager at RTCC and holds a Bachelors of Arts from Davidson College as well as a Masters of City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before working at RTCC, Ms. Wagner Vinson was a policy analyst at North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Southern Research Institute

Background: The Southern Research Institute is a self-sustaining research contract organization. They pursue entrepreneurial and collaborative initiatives to develop and maintain a pipeline of intellectual property and innovative technologies that can contribute to the growth of the organization and positively impact real-world problems.

Tim Hansen is a Director at the Southern Research Institute, where he works on Advanced Energy and Transportation Technology. Mr. Hansen has a Bachelors of Science from the University of Virginia, as well as a Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering from Dartmouth College. Before becoming Director, Mr. Hansen was involved at the Southern Research Institute as as Senior Project Leader and Program Manager.

Strata Solar

Background: Strata Solar, LLC (“Strata Solar”) is a vertically integrated solar development, construction, and financing company. The end to end approach allows for great efficiency, making Strata Solar the most competitive solar provider in the industry. With projects in operation and/or development in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Missouri, and California, Strata Solar is the fastest growing turnkey developer of commercial and utility scale solar energy in the United States, and the leader for solar energy integration in the Southeast. Strata Solar’s customers and project investors include banks, insurance companies, utilities, corporations, universities, retailers and government agencies.

John Morrison is the COO at Strata Solar, one of the leading utility and commercial-scale solar providers in the United States. Prior to Strata, Mr. Morrison was the Assistant Secretary for Energy in the NC Department of Commerce. Previously, he was COO at Advanced Energy Corp., an energy engineering services firm based in Raleigh, NC. Mr. Morrison has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and MS from Stanford University, and BS in Engineering from Yale University.

Academic Research in Energy:

Candise Henry is a second year PhD student in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences where she is the Graduate Research Assistant for the moderator, Professor Lincoln Pratson. She is interested in better understanding energy-climate relationships, such as how the future of energy will be affected by resource depletion, changing climate patterns, decreased water availability, and more. Her current project aims to quantify the efficiency losses of thermoelectric generators due to climate variability (e.g. increasing water and ambient air temperatures and greater occurrences of droughts). Her objective in this study is to help electric industry developers, investors, and policymakers to better plan for future societal energy needs, as efficiency losses would raise the financial, resource, and environmental costs of providing electricity.

Candise received her B.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Columbia University. There, she worked as a research assistant at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, developing methods for measuring and analyzing radioactive transuranic elements. Her interest in Energy emerged through working with nuclear power-derived water samples from the Fukushima disaster

Amory Lovins Talk on the Future of Energy 

Coming Soon: 

-Industry Overview


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