LevelTen Energy is excited to welcome Ross Trenary as our new Chief Financial Officer. With 15 years of experience in the renewable energy industry, Ross has seen the industry grow and change. We sat down with Ross to get his perspective on what excites him about the industry and LevelTen’s unique position as a leading provider of renewable transaction infrastructure.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
This is my 15th year in the renewable energy industry. I live in Orinda, CA with my wife Maria, our son Miles (7), our dog Arlo and cat Rugby. I love cycling - I follow the professional sport closely and ride as my primary exercise. I went to Cal for undergrad and returned for my MBA (go Bears!).
You began your career as an auditor at Deloitte. How did that lead into a career in the renewable energy space, and what keeps you excited about the industry?
Starting my career at Deloitte was the perfect way for me to get exposure to different industries, functions and roles. There aren’t many entry-level positions that provide such broad access. While my path to renewable energy wasn’t directly sourced from a particular Deloitte experience, I believe that foundational communication and accounting skills I developed as part of the firm have played a large role in my accomplishments since. There is nothing static about our industry. I can comfortably say that no two of my 15 years have presented me with a repetitive core challenge. It’s hard to not be excited by an industry that has such a massive global impact, is critical to our collective future, is changing and growing every day, and attracts brilliant professionals that I get to spend my days with.
What is the renewable energy project that you’re most proud of working on so far?
If I had to pick just one I think I’d need to reach way back to the Ivanpah project. I joined BrightSource when that set of three plants was just a glimmer in the eye and to see something so massive and really just so cool come together as the result of so much hard work, ingenuity, and teaming was truly inspirational. It also formed a pretty big part of my days at NRG where we owned and operated the plant while I was there.
What attracted you to LevelTen?
LevelTen is creating solutions to challenges I’ve observed my entire career. Transaction friction exists as a value-destroying obstacle at every point of a renewable projects’ life-cycle. Removing these obstacles is critical to enabling the required pace of the energy transition. That said, there are tons of great companies solving meaty problems…it was the opportunity to meet with my future colleagues that made it obvious to me that LevelTen was where I needed to be.
Renewable energy finance can be quite complex. What advice do you have for other CFO’s -- perhaps at companies interested in decarbonizing their energy sources -- trying to wrap their minds around it (aside from reading the LevelTen blog)?
First, I think it’s fantastic that more companies and CFOs are understanding that socially responsible corporate decisions ARE financially responsible corporate decisions. At the same time, we are right to recognize that our industry landscape is complex and always shifting as regulations change, technologies advance, and markets become more sophisticated. I do think that diving in gives CFOs a tremendous opportunity to learn while also flexing their skills in an area that is inherently cross-functional.
Climate change can be quite overwhelming to think about. How do you stay hopeful about the future?
I’ve seen teams come together to accomplish seemingly impossible things. I think we’re currently faced with a variety of ecological and societal challenges but I’m hopeful because I see courageous and capable people rising to the call and finding a way to move the needle…whichever mission they choose. I’ve always felt fortunate to be in a position to contribute my efforts to providing the world with clean, reliable, and affordable energy and every day I meet people who share that passion.