What’s it all about?
I love how Jeff and Dan have built Key Capture Energy to be a leading player in the utility scale energy storage sector since founding not many years ago. I first met and worked with Jeff Bishop three years ago, and we recorded one of the early episodes of the podcast. So much has changed in the business and the sector I wanted to share that journey, and Jeff’s thoughts and insights for energy storage for the next three to five years, and his insights into important leadership and diversity challenges in the sector.
About Jeff Bishop:
Jeff Bishop is a clean energy entrepreneur and a leader in the US energy transition, focusing on the intersection of finance, commercial, technology and policy.
Jeff is the CEO and co-founder of Key Capture Energy, one of America’s largest owner/operators of stand-alone battery storage projects. Prior to founding Key Capture Energy, Jeff held senior positions at Brookfield Renewable and EDP Renewables – two of the largest renewable energy companies in the United States. In these roles, he was responsible for financial analysis, corporate development, and market design — focusing extensively on building new markets for renewable energy to compete in. Jeff got his start in renewable energy working for a wind energy developer in Morocco in 2002.
Jeff has served on, and often led, the boards of clean energy advocacy organizations at the federal, regional, and state level — including the Energy Storage Association, Renewable Energy Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition, the Maine Renewable Energy Association, and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. In addition, Jeff has testified before legislative and regulatory bodies in ten states in the Midwest and Northeast and is a frequent panelist at energy conferences across North America.
Jeff holds a MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rice University. He is currently on leave from his Masters in Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Utah. As a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, Jeff spent a year researching renewable energy failures in Uganda and Botswana. Jeff was a Forbes Thirty Under Thirty – Energy award winner in the program’s inaugural year in 2011.
Jeff is a mediocre skier and a tenacious bicycle commuter (and includes in his public transportation advocacy a previous board membership at BikeHouston). Jeff and his partner, Boyu, live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jeff is active in the broader LGBT equality movement; he served on the board for the Montrose Center, a non-profit empowering Houston’s LGBT community, as well as co-chaired the Rice University LGBT Alumni Association.
About Key Capture Energy:
Key Capture Energy is an independent developer of utility-scale battery storage projects and identifies, develops, constructs and operates energy storage solutions to foster greater deployment of renewable energy, create a more stable electric grid, and provide value to all ratepayers. Headquartered in Albany, NY and with offices in Houston, TX and Salt Lake City, UT
- Jeff Bishop LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-bishop/
- Key Capture Energy LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/key-capture-energy/
- Key Capture Energy Twitter: https://twitter.com/Key_Capture
- Key Capture Energy Website: https://www.keycaptureenergy.com/
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy. We work across EMEA and NORAM, with teams based in the UK, Germany and the US.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email email@example.com
- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00U6SFUSS/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
- The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1451692293/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1
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David Hunt 0:31
Hello, I’m David Hunt, CEO and founder of Hyperion executive search and your host for the leading clean tech podcast. I hope you all had a great start to the year for myself not content with a recent trip to Florida to meet the Hyperion US team in January. Next week. I’ll be seeking some winter sunshine in the Canary Islands ahead of a big news announcement for Hyperion clean tech group on the 28th of February. So please stay posted for that. Well Being Well, we won’t be skipping any episodes of the podcast. Let’s have some great guests lined up. And speaking of which, for the second time only. I have returning guests today. Three years after a very early episode recorded and a very cold PE firms office in New York City. I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast, Jeff Bishop. We have much to catch up on some great new insights. Jeff is the CEO and co founder of key capture energy, one of America’s largest owner operators of standalone battery storage projects. Prior to co founder and key capture energy, Jeff held senior positions at Brookfield renewables and EDP renewables, two of the largest renewable energy companies in the United States. I hope you enjoy the episode. Hello, Jeff, it’s great to have you back on the losing cleantech podcast.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 1:47
Great, I really appreciate it, David. It’s been a while.
David Hunt 1:51
It certainly has. Just so again, for listeners it will we’ll put in the notes that Jeff was actually one of our early guests on the podcast, I think Episode Seven, we’re now in 92. And we met in a very cold New York City about three years ago, when the world was very different place on pretty much every level and certainly energy storage and keep capture at a very different level, then. So really keen to catch up with Jeff in terms of your store in the evolution both of key capture energy, and of course, the broader energy storage market in the US. It is customer of course people can revert back to the original episode for for a full day game. And perhaps if you could just give us a quick flavour of how you came to be co founder and keycap Chunji.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 2:32
Yeah, definitely. So I’ve been in clean energy since 2002, whenever I first started working with a wind farm developer over in Morocco. And so over the last 20 years, you know, you ride the various waves, and whenever, like wind energy was really taking off in the US in the mid 2000s. At that point, you know, there were companies that were development focused and you know, really, like full of people that could create something out of nothing. And, you know, the entire evolution of the industry, you know, has obviously moved it where folks have gone from pure play developers, to fully integrated independent power producers, and you know, just really a maturity of the entire industry. Yeah, and yeah, and so about five years ago, you know, me and my co founder, Dan Fitzgerald, you know, we both noticed the same trend where the price of batteries were rapidly rapidly declining. And as more wind and more solar were coming on, that there needed to be some sort of very large capacity in the market. And so we know how to develop projects, we know how to create markets. So we got started five years ago, with 20 to 200 megawatt size projects in development, for stationary energy storage. And since then, you know, we have definitely evolved to you know, one of the industry leaders as far as developing, constructing, owning, and most importantly, operating. Yeah, battery storage projects.
David Hunt 4:16
Yeah, it’s been quite a journey and in value of that earlier renewables experience as you touched on, and it is just crazy. I’m not as long as yourself, I think first got into solar in about 2007. But just the whole world has changed not just in the obvious things like the pricing, but also the markets and the need and the requirement and everything else that’s gone around the stack and revenue streams and the commercialization of all of these things so great that we’ll get a bit of a view on that. We’ll touch on that because when we did first speak and work together three or so years ago, obviously the company was significantly smaller, the market was significantly smaller. So perhaps you can share a little bit of how key capture energy has grown over the last three years and then sort of leverage that into how the US energy storage market has evolved during that period of time.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 5:00
Yeah, so whenever we got started, we didn’t actually know how the revenues would fully work. And, you know, they’re told hon, and they still continues to be a tonne of people have all sorts of great algorithms. But until you get projects online, there are all sorts of regulatory and commercial quirks that you just don’t know. And so, you know, our goal is just to get online 10 to 20 megawatt sized projects, and what we identified as being the up and coming markets. And so for us, that was mainly New York and Texas. And, you know, since then we’ve done exactly that got online, you know, smaller size projects, really amp up our algorithms and software in order to fully participate in the market. And then, you know, now we’re able to structure around, contract around, you know, and really drive market revenues. And so with us, New York, and Texas, you know, have been like our, you know, go to, but in reality, like these projects, take you know, three to seven years to get online. And so now we are very, very aggressive, and where we see the up and coming markets for 2025 2026. And so, you know, we’re seeing, you know, Illinois, we’re seeing Michigan, we’re seeing Oklahoma, and so we’re definitely starting in our development pipeline, are reflective of, you know, the markets to come.
David Hunt 6:30
Yeah, yeah. That’s interesting, because, again, there have been very obvious hotspots that you you touched on there. And of course, California another that evolve. And some people sort of think of the USB as being sort of a homogenous place. But obviously, there’s lots of regulations, and challenges in the various different states, just as there are obviously in Europe and different countries. So it’s not as straightforward as you might think of just cut and pasting some project from one state to another isn’t
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 6:54
know Exactly, yeah. And you know, like, even thinking back to like the mid 2000s, when wind and solar were really getting kicked off in Europe. The commercial contracts in Poland are obviously very different. We’re very different than Spain and Portugal than the UK. And you really do need that geographic diversity, just because markets go up, markets go down. And it really does protect you. You know, like back in the late 2000s, early 2010s, Spain went back on all of their existing power purchase agreements and renegotiated and I remember that, and, you know, we don’t think something like that will happen here. But you never know. And so that geographic diversity and being able to have, you know, your fingers in a lot of different pies, it matters.
David Hunt 7:49
Yeah, because you are sort of uncharted territory. And quite often, in the clean tech sector abroad, and certainly in storage, whilst it’s evolved a lot, and we can touch on that, but you still on a daily basis, kind of in in front and sort of Frontier land on you just in terms of like you say, you assume we make assumptions and business cases around assumptions, but nothing is necessarily always set in stone.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 8:10
Exactly. And then to like, the regulatory part of it, like really can’t overemphasise where, you know, with with wind and solar, basically, now, the roles are pretty locked in. And so, you know, you know, if you put on a solar plant, you put out intermittent electrons onto the grid. And there’s not too too much complication around it. Like there’s fights that happen, you know, regarding how much capacity you get, or, you know, there’s fights at the regulatory level, you know, on, like, some weird nuance on, you know, reactive power. But with batteries, like, it’s a whole different game, as far as how you actually participate in the market, and how you can get revenues. And so, you know, like, we’ve always had a really, really big component of regulatory on our team, just because it’s a lot of work in order to, you know, really help define the roles and figure out how to participate.
David Hunt 9:10
Yeah, yeah, people don’t always think about that. That’s a huge issue as well as of course, keeping on top of the various changes in technology and chemistry and all these other sort of more technical aspects. And I think we touch on the sort of once you are owning and operating the the algorithms and the software that sort of maximise the and optimise the batteries. I want to touch a bit more on that as you get a little bit nerdy and tacky because we’ve got quite a lot of battery nerds in the audience, but just going back to starting key capture with yourself and Dan, what was your mission at that time? What types of projects did you envisage and how has that evolved if at all in the last three years?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 9:48
Yeah, so whenever we got started, you know, we the goal really with the first projects was just to get on ones that You know, had use cases that did everything in the markets. So that way we can really figure out what the markets were and what the revenues truly were. And that hasn’t changed. You know, we don’t like single use case type projects, because, you know, if that single use case gets saturated, you know, your money goes away. And so, at least for us, you know, there’s always been that focus of really being able to have the algorithms and the software that allows for you to do everything. Yeah. And then our projects because of that, you know, they it’s, it’s all across the board as far as what they do. And so for instance, we put in a couple of West Texas projects in the middle of the Permian Basin, were a matter of fracking headquarters for the US. And we knew it was a very short term play, because they were putting on new 345 kV transmission lines going out to West Texas. But we knew in the interim, that there was a huge amount of, you know, revenue that you could get just from energy arbitrage. Yeah. And so we were doing up to three cycles a day on those projects back in early 2020. And every time we were dispatching, we were getting about 600 bucks a megawatt hour, which is insane. And, you know, then global economic collapse happened, you know, March, April 2022, with COVID, all the fracking rig counts dropped 25% of what they were, suddenly they didn’t require 2470 electricity. And, you know, our revenues got, like shot from the energy arbitrage perspective. But then we can move them into responsive reserve, you know, where instead of doing three cycles a day, now, they were, you know, sitting there, you know, full charge waiting for the electric grid to need them to come online within a quarter second. And so like, that’s what I’ve always liked about batteries is just that, you know, you do have a very, very wide variety of revenues. And you know, you optimise based upon what’s going on in the current market, very, very localised current market at that time.
David Hunt 12:21
Yeah, yeah. But over the period of time, there’s been quite a few shocks, you obviously, the global pandemic, immediately caused the Great changing, certainly in the short to medium term in terms of energy consumption, who and who and what was using energy capacity, so that that kind of happened. And of course, it feels like a million years ago, now, the sort of couple of significant events with with a court in Texas with the with the grid going down. So they’ve been a number of I guess, shocks, which have shone the light a little bit on the versatility of 10 use cases for for storage. So whilst they were challenging at the time, do you think that that’s moved on the awareness and the acceptance of grid scale batteries?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 13:01
Yeah, I think they’ve always been accepted, it’s just been the question of what revenues should we qualify for. And, you know, the US electric market, you know, just driven at the state level, at the regional level, through independent system operators at the federal level through the federal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And so like, with this patchwork, you know, all states and independent system operators really need to define what exactly the third grid needs, and then pay appropriately for it, where, you know, up in New York and New England, like they really need, like, really, really long duration batteries for the next time, but there’s a really massive polar vortex. But right now, there’s, there’s not a market for it. And, you know, there’s not price signals for it. And so, you know, I think it’ll just be a continuous evolution as the years go on, just, you know, working through all these very, very technical, like working groups that the independent system operators, working through, you know, sitting down with state regulators and policy makers to like, really, you know, see what exactly they think their state needs. And, you know, having having the market, you know, be created that we can all compete in?
David Hunt 14:26
Yeah, yeah. I guess one thing I want to touch on is, again, there’s a lot of talk, a lot of development, a lot of investment in and around long duration storage, various different types, whether that’s thermal or flow batteries, for example. But there’s a real difficulty in not just the technology, which itself has some issues, but is also around as you said, the market need and sort of in terms of what what is long duration, at what point do we really need it obviously in the longer term. As we move towards 100% renewables clearly we’re going to need longer duration storage, but at the moment, it’s still very difficult if you’re Looking to develop different types of chemistry? So what are your thoughts on that? Are you chemistry agnostic? Are you committed to lithium ion? Or what’s what’s your sort of view on how that might evolve in the next few years? Yeah,
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 15:12
I remember back in 2007 2008, where, you know, solar thermal, looked far more attractive than solar photovoltaic. But in reality with photovoltaic, you know, as you go from 1000, to 10,000 to 100,000 2 million units, every time you go up logarithmic play, the price drops, 22%. Yeah, has been for 20 years at this point. It’s the same thing with lithium ion instead of 22%. It’s about a 20% drop. But in reality, you know, you have to be any other technology has to be like, not just incrementally better, because you’re not going to be able to catch up. But it has to be a factor better. And so, it becomes a question of, you know, can can these guys get commercialised? And, you know, do the pilot projects, get to scale? Get the supply chain in place? Will he be able to do that before something disrupts them? And that’s the giant question where the disruption, you know, like, already, I’m expecting in Texas, like in a couple of years, if not, in a year or two, you know, the price of a lot of the price will be set by crypto miners. Because, you know, they have their choice of either, you know, mining Bitcoin, or participating the wholesale market and getting paid as a controllable load resource. So that’s going to be coming very quick. And then, you know, three to five years down the road, there’s a four quarter 2222, which allows for aggregation of distributed resources to participate in the whole sub markets by themselves. And so then it becomes a question for all these long duration folks of five years from now they’re going to be competing against Google aggregating all the Nest thermostats, they’re going to be competing against, you know, Tesla and Ford aggregating 10 20 million vehicles, and in participating in the wholesale market that way. So are you going to be able to get commercial before somebody a different technology just completely until they comes out? You know, from underneath and, you know, becomes the market later?
David Hunt 17:33
Yeah, yeah, that’s certainly a big challenge. You touched on something there again, I say, having started in sort of 2007, when kind of recall what we were about three, three pounds and $4 a watt for PV. That experience curve and cost reduction, I think is always in still takes a lot of people by surprise, even though I should say we’ve sold it, it’s like 20 years in and it’s just consistent, and it doesn’t seem to be an endpoint and batteries are going through that at the moment. So it’s really hard to actually say, to commercialise that at the backdrop of something which is getting both better, better controlled, and of course, cheaper. So going back to your idea of owning, developing and operating, worked with a number of clients who’ve started on that journey, and then perhaps moved one into their ride, the flipping sites that they’ve developed, and or in one or two occasions where they’ve started to just primarily focus on the optimization software that they’ve learned from their initial activities of building and deploying storage, because that always your attend, and then, you know, in the foreseeable future, that was your continue to be your intent to own and operate as well as build.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 18:37
Yeah, I’ve always wanted the IVP model for storage. And that’s just because the lessons learned from you know, both construction and operations really influence how you develop, where you prospect, how you figure out where the grid, the batteries need to be in order to have the most value in five years. And so for us, like, you know, we really need to be able to integrate all these lessons learned. And so, you know, we’ve always been focused on doing it all, you know, in reality, and in some of these markets that we’re going into, you know, the utilities will want to own and the regulated markets. And then, you know, there’s always going to be a scenario where somebody else may value some veracity far higher than what we do. And then at that point, yep, sell immediately. You know, I remember when I was back at Brookfield in the early 2010s, where, you know, we kept getting out bid for wind projects, and operating wind projects. And at that point, it’s like, okay, well, you know, clearly the market is valuing what we think it is by you know, 30% higher and then we put, you know, all of our wind farms on the block, you know, put them up for sale at that point. So, so I assume, you know, we will continue to be, you know, have focused on everything. But yeah, I mean, in reality, there will be some projects we sell off, there will be others and we acquire, that will be joint ventures, especially with offshore wind onshore wind hack, where even partnering with talent to do a battery on a coal plant that’s getting retired.
David Hunt 20:18
Right. I saw that. Yeah, that’s interesting. I know, Steve did quite a few of those, I think six co sites in Germany’s interesting, better use of the site, of course. So looking at the other evolution of the company, of course, the market has moved and continues to move. But during that time, obviously, the business has done, there’s a couple of areas, I would like to perhaps touch on it recently, you went into your an acquisition, or were acquired by an external entity. And when we first started, you’d had some investment and clearly at that point in our lives, you down and maybe two or three others at the time, when we first started speaking, so what’s that been like, as a CEO to manage the financing and funding of the kind of growth that you’ve been through and continuing to go through?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 21:05
Yes, I’ve always been focused on keeping my capital stack, very simple. And that’s just so the investor management part, like doesn’t consume my job, so I can be focused on business development, and, you know, the market strategy. And so, you know, we had a absolutely wonderful owner in vision Ridge, a sustainable Asset Fund. But, you know, we didn’t know, from the very beginning that we are going to be outgrowing them, you know, very quickly. And, and so, you know, at that point, like, as soon as we signed with them, you know, within three months, I was already starting to, like, you know, meet, you know, with who we thought our next buyers would be. And so what’s great now that SK ens, is our backer where, you know, they are $250 billion company, they have really, really big ambitions in the US, including sister companies as far as building the battery manufacturing for the Ford F 150s. And so like, now, I don’t have to do that, which is wonderful. Yeah. So I can be focused on my time, and just, you know, the company growth. And then, you know, being a CEO of a company that’s gone from four people, whenever you and I first started talking for years ago to, you know, 53 people today. Obviously, like, there’s not obviously, but you know, anytime that you really triple the size of your company, everything breaks, your processes, break your, you know, teams break, you just really have to, like, you know, redo how you approach using software internally, how you, you know, restructure communications. And so, you know, because of that, you know, we are in kind of a sweet spot right now, where, you know, everything has been set up. But in the next, you know, three, four or five months, it’s all going to be redefining processes, redefining, you know, human resources, restructuring how we are built, you know, to have better communication. And so, and then after that, then, you know, hopefully, we’ll be in a, you know, a good spot for the next couple years. So we could be focused on farming.
David Hunt 23:31
Yeah, the people underestimate these challenges. And go back to your point in fundraising, it’s great that like you say, if you can get that done, or get the kind of investment partner that you have currently, so you don’t have to worry about that. Clearly, it’s a different scale of technology. But I remember speaking to Christopher Osterman, who’s the CEO of his on residential battery company was talking about about 70% of his time ended up being focused on investor relations and fundraising, which, you know, doesn’t leave an awful lot of time for everything else that a CEO has to do in terms of, like you said, business development, building the systems, building the teams. So it’s so is good that you get, I guess, that respite, or that, that, that element of being able to focus on other aspects, and not always looking over the shoulder as to when when do we next need to raise and when do we next need to, to relook at the money situation?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 24:17
Yeah, no, exactly. And, you know, it’s been, it’s been wonderful, like, you know, since we closed and I can actually be spending all my time, you know, internal, and, you know, definitely going through a sales process and due diligence and everything around that. It didn’t take up a huge amount of time. And so, being able to get reconnected with our team. It’s been wonderful the last few months, so I really appreciate it this time. Yeah,
David Hunt 24:47
I’m sure when going back stop one of the things breaking as you grow, which always does in any sort of company, going through fast growth, but we again, don’t like talk back too much about the pandemic but we went through or are still to some extent going through something which is fairly specific. and particularly challenging for building teams and acquiring attracting talent, managing that talent, and obviously, sort of onboarding, all that kind of stuff that you just touched on very briefly. So you’ve got now 53 People, I guess they’re relatively geographically spread, how have you had to adapt your leadership or management style, leadership style in that period of time? And how would you sort of keep the culture that you I know, you guys are really so strong on in the initial period of growth, as you both scaled, and also against the backdrop that you just couldn’t get together with people in the same way for the last couple of years?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 25:39
Yeah, it’s definitely been a challenge all around. And so we’ve always been distributed, where, you know, our headquarters are in upstate New York and Albany. And then, you know, our secondary office has been in Houston. And outside of that, like, you know, that talent that, you know, we’ve always wanted, they didn’t necessarily live in those cities. And so we’ve always been distributed, but you know, my management team every other month, we get together and in one of those cities and whiteboard, and so not being able to do that for two years, or, you know, be able to do it very sporadically. It definitely it’s harmful. So, like our teams have, like they’ve powered through and, you know, we’ve definitely have been able to keep, you know, the culture that, you know, I really liked from the beginning. But, you know, it definitely, it feels different, where, like, for me if I haven’t been to Albany for three months, because Omicron searched again, whenever I walk back into that office next week, it will feel very different to me, because yeah, definitely, definitely a different different environment when people can’t get together.
David Hunt 26:59
Yeah, yeah. So how have you gone about working on cultural, I guess the communication style is something that has to change to make sure everybody’s informed and involved and, you know, fit still fitting part of the overall package when they can’t collaborate in the way that they would normally do? Is that sort of challenge you in terms of how you’ve communicated? Or perhaps put systems in place to sort of manage that sort of? situation?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 27:26
Yeah, so for me, it’s been, it’s been really difficult, because anytime I’m in an office with, you know, junior level people, I tend to drag them into meetings last minute, in total, or out or external, just, you know, so they know, how I look at things, how we’re approaching, they hear feedback, they get to meet people, you know, outside our company. And so not being able to drag in team members into meetings, and, you know, being able to whiteboard and talk things out. That’s been difficult. And so like, you know, try to do it over slack, try to do it with phone calls, but it’s just not quite the same. So, you know, we had a brief respite, you know, from COVID, like, between delta and Omicron. And, you know, immediately, like, I was in Houston, and Albany offices, and then did it every zoom, where it’s, you know, just energy stores, one on ones, and, you know, where we’re going and how companies evolve and where we are, and, you know, it’s just really trying to lay out like, Yeah, I mean, we’re, you know, in this awkward phase of the company, where, you know, we are very quickly evolving from a development focused company with an operations arm to an operations company with a development arm. And, you know, it’s uncomfortable, and, you know, just really being as upfront and transparent and working through all the issues. Yes, that’s always better done in person.
David Hunt 29:01
Yeah, yeah, we’re going to return to tech, by the way, which obviously is, again, interesting, but on this topic of people, which clearly is close to my heart, one of the things I know that when we first started speaking, was the importance of diversity and inclusion. And I know that you’ve had much success and in certainly in gender diversity into the organisation, and it’s becoming more hot topic as it should be. Sometimes it seems to be a little bit of what do we have to do rather than what what’s best to be done. But that’s perhaps a big topic in itself, but just perhaps you could share some of the, I guess, thoughts or how you’ve as a company, try hard to work on having a diverse team and what those challenges have been like and perhaps sharing some of the perhaps good practice or even mistakes that you’ve made over the years on that journey.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 29:57
Yeah, definitely. So you So diversity has been super key for me from day one. And part of it is just very personal where, you know, I remember I got a call from a recruiter back in 2008 or so. And, you know, I did the initial interview with the head of HR from that company. And at the end, you know, I asked her point blank, where I’m, like, look like, from what I can tell on your website, like your entire management team, your entire board, it’s all straight white man. And, you know, I’m an openly gay guy, how am I going to succeed here, and, you know, she just got super awkward, you know, made a generic statement about diversity. But, you know, in reality, like, it didn’t create an environment where I thought I couldn’t succeed. And, and so, you know, especially for anytime that we recruit somebody in Houston, and we work with an external recruiter, you know, I remind them at the beginning that Houston is made up of 15%, white men. And so if they give me an interview panel, that’s 80%, white men. Okay, they’re recruiting from the best of 15%, instead of the best of 100. And, you know, it’s just, it’s very, very simple, where, like, you know, the companies that are going to over perform, are always going to be the ones that have the best people overall. And so, you know, so it’s not, it’s not a focus. It’s a focus, because it makes economic sense, in order to do it. And so, it’s definitely been, it continues to be a challenge, you know, especially for an industry that historically has not been that welcoming. You know, for especially men and senior level, you know, we’re half our management team, it’s always been women. But you know, we’re not doing well with people of colour management team level. But, you know, at least our Houston office represents Houston. And, you know, we’re working across the board in order to make sure that, like, number one, you know, our company is obviously reflective. But then number two, like we push all of our trade organisations in DC in order to, you know, really have a focus on diversity, equity inclusion. And, you know, we, I personally push the other CEOs in the industry to do better.
David Hunt 32:30
Yeah, it’s important to always be pushing the agenda. on every level think certainly, from a hiring perspective, a lot of companies, recruiters, for what just lazy, not doing the extra work that it takes to find people from more diverse backgrounds and experiences. But on the company side of things in terms of how you are perceived and how welcoming you are, that’s another thing that perhaps, would get your insights on. Because, again, there have been some genuinely, really companies that I’ve worked with a genuinely wanting to diversify their workforce for all of the right and genuine reasons, but it’s pretty tough when someone goes to website and go into your point, you know, you see a bunch of white guys scrape, usually great white guys sat around the table. And it’s just that discrepancy between what you’re saying that you want, and the culture that currently exists. And clearly, it’s always difficult because at some point, you have to hire your first person of colour or your first person with a diverse sexual identity, or whatever the case may be. So it can be tough, but I think a key thing is around how you are perceived and how you are seen to be a welcoming place for people with different experiences. Is that something you’ve either worked on? Or perhaps because of just your own background? It’s been a little easier. I wonder what you thought either? Yeah, well, we’ve
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 33:52
always made a priority from day one. So you know, we don’t have to shift. You know, it’s been there from the beginning. And so because of that, like, you know, I got a call from a, somebody that, you know, works for a competitor, that’s a, you know, woman of colour. And, you know, she was just very blunt, where she just said, you know, this, this isn’t my environment. And, you know, so at least, you know, with us, you know, we are definitely, you know, perceived outside of our company, as you know, a place where everyone can succeed. You know, for folks trying to change a culture, you know, it always has to start somewhere. And, like, there’s some really, really basic things to be doing where, you know, for instance, there’s a Harvard Business Review Report a few years ago, where, if you have one woman or one minority on your interview panel, that woman has exactly a 0% chance of getting hired zero. And, you know, whenever it goes up to two, it’s now 20%. And whenever, you know, it’s three out of the five, like, suddenly it’s at 90%. And so, you know, it’s just, there’s a lot of unconscious biases that, you know, corporate corporations just need to be super aware of, and make sure that they do everything they can in order to break down those barriers. And so, you know, it’s just, it’s even the really, really basic stuff where, you know, like, our employee handbook was not that trans inclusive. And so it is going through getting, you know, the best practices from the Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Campaign, sorry. And just really going and, you know, evaluating all aspects of our company to make sure that, you know, people can see themselves succeeding here.
David Hunt 35:54
I think that unconscious bias thing is significant. And it’s, it’s, you have to sometimes shine the light on it, which is always challenging. It’s tougher when we are in the, you know, the talent pool, by definition, because it’s historically been quite lacking in diversity is a challenge. And then of course, running a business is always multi, multi challenging. But yeah, no, it’s important for the future of the business, because that’s one of the challenges we get is we’re working with so many clients and who need talent, but if you are restricting, where you’re able to are willing to look for that talent, and clearly the whole sector suffers accordingly, as well as the individual businesses. So it’s important we do what we can to make sure like, say, fishing in the broadest pool of talent assays as possible. Thanks for sharing those thoughts, by the way, Jeff, but perhaps then looking to the future of key capture energy in the sector, we touched on how things have evolved in the last two or three years, perhaps it’s time to get the crystal ball out and see where you see the company evolve now that you have this, such as a financial ownership and support, and also the evolving regulatory and an environment and of course, increasing unfortunate realities of climate change, that we’re impacting on our ability to make sure the lights stay on more often than not, in many places. What what perhaps could you see in the next three or five years for firstly, for key capture, and then broadly for for the US storage market?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 37:17
Yeah. So you know, the most fascinating trend for me is just the convergence on software, where, you know, we have our algorithms every five minutes, they automatically, you know, send into the Independent System Operator, updated bits, and I think we have about 104 data feeds coming in, in any given second. And, you know, it all is just now run by software. And so, as we continue to refine, and get better and better at that, you know, that’s an area that we’ll be able to have other resources come underneath, whether that’s just stationary storage, storage, plus solar storage, plus wind, you know, potentially solar plus thermal, etc. And then, you know, by 2025, we fully expect underneath that platform of market participation, we’re going to be able to integrate in distributed energy resources, as well as electric vehicle charging networks, entire networks. And so just that real emphasis on the software, where underneath, you can put in any asset instead of just ERJ assets, that’s going to be really key. And, you know, the current wind and solar companies whose DNA is based on putting, you know, entering intermittent electrons onto the grid, they may not necessarily have that same focus of building the entire company around this. So yeah, so as far as trends go, that’s going to be number one. Number two is the US is going to be needing capacity, full stop. And by the end of the 2020s, it’s going to be needing capacity everywhere. Everybody has underestimated in Europe, a electric vehicle penetration. And that’s only going to continue. So you have suddenly, you know, for the first time and you know, decade and a half, you’re going to be having electric demand growth, combined with continued retirements, for ESG reasons of coal and thermal plants. And so the market is going to be bigger, and it will go faster than what people are thinking. And so it’s it’s now going to be that question of like, where are these projects going to go and, you know, how do you best integrate them together? And then the third trend, you know, is just going to be I think probably a refocus back on, you know, what do you get if you’re a state that’s giving out money for Energy Storage. And what I mean by that is, there will be a refocus on economic development for, you know, domestic manufacturing for using localised, you know, supply chains, and overlaid that with all the environmental justice, you know, issues that the industry has not addressed, where, you know, we, there’s a lot of thermal plants and communities that never should have been built. And combine that with, there’s a lot of overall public that has not been able to benefit, like clean energy. And so those three trends together are just gonna make this super fast in a world. Yeah, no,
David Hunt 40:39
it certainly as you say, it’s not for the faint hearted, or those who enjoy a more stable environment, but it’s really in a positive way. She say things are evolving, technologies are converging, the whole immobility thing is, is fantastic. And again, even to the point of three or four years ago, from our perspective, we know it was something that we thought would come on horizon, and now it’s a substantial part of what’s going on in the world. In the clean energy world, at least in terms of how do you integrate that amount of electric vehicles, how can you then balance those vehicle to grid all these fascinating things, which will evolve over the coming few years? Wrapping up a little bit, Jeff, moving towards some of the some of the things that are have been challenging in since founding the company, four or five years ago, what have been the most rewarding, and which have been the most challenging times?
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 41:30
Yeah, I think the most rewarding part is, you know, everybody that’s been on our team. They’ve been here at the exact right moments in their careers, where, you know, for instance, like, I always find it like, incredibly, incredibly enjoyable, and I get really proud whenever, you know, we start somebody off as an intern, bring them in full time, they work with us for two years, and then, you know, they realise that they’re 2425, and, you know, they want to go do something else. And that’s, like, the most rewarding part for me of getting to start people off and, you know, really be able to, you know, help influence their career and their overall life. And so everybody that’s, that’s on our team, you know, it feels like, they should be here, you know, and that we’re the right place for them. And so, so that’s been the most rewarding part for me, by far. And then the second part is, you know, like, really, like, whenever I look for a developer, and whenever I interview developer, and I really care if they have clean energy or energy background, in general, instead, I just care like, about them telling me about a time they created something out of nothing. And, you know, it could be a little league team that, you know, they got got started, it could be, you know, like, Peace Corps like volunteering, and, you know, creating, like, you know, a Health Network in Haiti, or what have you. But, like, I’m really proud of us, like, we created something out of nothing. And, you know, we have been intensely focused on our communities. You know, we’re helping, you know, with the cluster of clean energy companies in upstate New York, you know, we’re doing all these really, really great things. And, you know, just I’m proud of our team, now hugely
David Hunt 43:29
rewarding, I think, as much as challenging being in any kind of intrapreneurial environment. And again, challenging work hard, fast growth sectors, such as clean tech, but as you say, there are so many upsides to creating your business and again, one where you’ve had the success that you’ve had, and I should say, you’ve had the involvement in those even more esoteric areas of bringing people on board and I really, that really resonates and just helping people on their journeys in their careers and then in their life through actually maximising a good time together, however long that might be. So thanks for sharing those thoughts. Tend to close always, Jeff with some recommendations, ideally, book recommendations, because I’m an avid book reader, you may or may not be but if any, either books or that you would recommend for either from a technology business or indeed personal perspective, or any other sort of areas that you go to for inspiration.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 44:20
Yeah, so um, I can always tell where my stress levels are, because that is a reflection of how many books that I’ve been purchasing that I haven’t read. So sadly, 2020 2021 like during the pandemic, you know, my reading has dropped off, and I think I have a stack of literally 40 books right now. And so, you know, I’m only starting to get back in as far as you know, the books that I always go to, you know, in the energy sector, Russell gold. He wrote a book on fracking. I think it’s called the boom how fracking changed the world. And that is, by far, you know, the best energy related book that I’ve ever read. So, highly, highly recommend that one. From a personal note, and this is super cheesy, but you know, ever since high school, I’ve always read the alchemist once a year. And I still go back to that. And you know, it’s just asking the basic question of you know, are you living your life how, how you want to, you know, how you should be doing it. So, so those are the two that you know, I like one cheesy one energy but yeah, that you know, huge number of books. So hopefully the next time we do this in three years, I’ll be able to
David Hunt 45:46
better yeah, hopefully got a bit of travelling time because the the long flights are normally where I get a chance to, to cram a good bit of reading in but thanks for those obviously, are very well known and, and a great book. So we’ll share the titles to both on the episode page for this podcast. Likewise, we’ll share obviously links to so people can find out a bit more about key capture and what you’re up to and some of your projects. So hopefully, that’ll be useful to them and yourself. But it’s been great to catch up, Jeff. sad that it’s not in New York. From my perspective, we’re stuck a little bit still where we are. But hopefully that’ll change in the next year or two. But it’s great to catch up with you again, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and your time.
Jeff Bishop – Key Capture Energy 46:23
Really appreciate it. Thanks, David.
David Hunt 46:26
Hello, and thanks very much for joining some of these new clean tech podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed that episode. And I appreciate you joining us again, please do subscribe if you haven’t already. And please do share any episodes that have particular interest within your community. If you do get an opportunity to write a review on Apple podcasts or your platform of choice, very much appreciated. Hopefully see you on the next episode.