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GEM’s Gems April 2014 – Jon L. Sullivan

April 1, 2014

The GEM Program is pleased to feature Jon L. Sullivan, who recently accepted the position of Director of Project Development at SunShare, as a GEM’s Gem.

“As Director of Project Development, I’ll be overseeing the implementation of our entire project pipeline,” he said. “This involves managing Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) companies, ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) of our portfolio of projects, and overall cost and time management of each project.”

SunShare is one of the nation’s first community solar companies. The “solar farm” is sold as individual parcels to homeowners and businesses that want the benefits of solar, but don’t have a roof or don’t want it on their roof.

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Jon L. Sullivan

“I’ve been in the solar industry now for seven years and watched it grow from a hippy cottage industry to a billion dollar industry,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to be a solar installer because I was a climber, and I thought being outside, working at heights, and helping the environment would translate well. What I found out was that I entered an industry of constant political disputes, utility battles, tricky finance mechanisms, international trade wars, and the rise and fall of many startup companies. I also discovered my industry was directly affected my political energy policy and competing industry decisions.”

Sullivan, 33, is a member of GEM’s Cohort X.

“The GEM program has increased my range of knowledge, expanded my network, and perhaps most important, it has given me more confidence to pursue higher level positions,” he said. “I’ve loved being back in school, learning more about energy, and I have no regrets.”

Sullivan and his wife are expecting their second child this August. “It’ll be tough to manage the new job, school, and a new baby, but I’ve always enjoyed swimming in the deep end … CANNON BALL!” Sullivan added.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.
As Director of Project Development, I’ll be overseeing the implementation of our entire project pipeline. This involves managing Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) companies, ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) of our portfolio of projects, and overall cost and time management of each project. SunShare is a solar project developer specializing in Community Solar Gardens. Our solar projects are large-scale solar projects from 500 kW – 2 MW, and they connect directly to the utility grid infrastructure. The “solar farm” is sold as individual parcels to homeowners and businesses that want the benefits of solar, but don’t have a roof or don’t want it on their roof.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
I’ve been in the solar industry now for seven years and watched it grow from a hippy cottage industry to a billion dollar industry. I wanted to be a solar installer because I was a climber, and I thought being outside, working at heights, and helping the environment would translate well. What I found out was that I entered an industry of constant political disputes, utility battles, tricky finance mechanisms, international trade wars, and the rise and fall of many startup companies. I also discovered my industry was directly affected my political energy policy and competing industry decisions.

How has the GEM program benefited you?
While all these exciting developments were taking place in solar, my personal career had plateaued. The GEM program has increased my range of knowledge, expanded my network, and perhaps most important, it has given me more confidence to pursue higher level positions.

What are some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?
During cohort weekends I usually go out to eat with a big group of students a couple of different nights. I like to go to lunch with different sub-sets of people too from other energy sectors and abroad.

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?
I recommend having a laptop or a tablet to maintain work communication. Sunglasses are also crucial for the Colorado sun blasting in through the windows at certain times of the day.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?
I pursued the GEM Program because I wanted to learn more about traditional energy industries. The GEM program had an excellent focus on traditional fuel sources as well as on the utility industry, which I thought complimented my experience in renewables.

 

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