Susannah Pedigo came to Solar Energy International (SEI) with more than 20 years of management experience in the renewable energy sector. Her resume reads a lot like a recent history of the solar industry as she’s navigated the changes of the emerging market. Each role she took was newly designed to keep up with the changing demands of a growing industry. The unifying role of each job was a strong ability to facilitate communication between the broad set of solar stakeholders; governments and research centers, utilities and residential customers, technical staff and corporate developers. Throughout her career, she’s demonstrated a remarkable skill to bring the requisite technical knowledge of the solar industry, combined with business management experience to meet the needs of the ultimate end user.
Currently the Director of Origination and Business Development at Lendlease, Susannah manages business development and partnership efforts with utilities and other solar stakeholders with the goal of growing the utility-scale and wholesale-distributed generation pipeline in the US. Her job builds upon all the knowledge she’s built partnering with utilities, public organizations and private business while continually navigating about the technical advancements and legislative terrain of the solar industry. In pursuit of that technical training and for the joy that comes from working on the systems that she deals with daily, Susannah came to SEI for a hands-on solar training course.
Susannah attended SEI’s PV201L: Solar Electric Lab Week (Grid-Direct). During this week-long, hands-on solar training students rotate through multiple PV systems where they fully install and commission systems consisting of modules, inverters, and racking components from a wide range of manufacturers. Of her SEI experience she said. “the curriculum is a good balance of theory and practical applications which I’d highly recommend.” During her week at SEI, Susannah was able to share her experience with her fellow students all at different points in their careers. Speaking of her time working with Xcel Energy, gave recommendations for interfacing with utilities to the future solar installers in the class.
She reiterated the imperative of solar training for anyone in the industry, saying, “though you may be be working in sales or business development, you will work with technical people everyday. The industry is highly competitive and you’re constantly looking for ways to add value and be cost effective. I need technical knowledge to interact with our technical staff to get the best value and cost effective solution for our clients. This is true for a rooftop system or utility scale solar plant.”
While Susannah’s spent a large part of her career in solar, she didn’t begin there.She began with a degree in Landscape Architecture and a passion for sustainability. She spent ten years working in City Planning on the Front Rage of Colorado before entering the solar industry. Susannah’s first position in solar was at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as the Senior Communication Manager where she built relationships with the Department of Energy to significantly grow NREL’s Solar Research Program. During this time, she also earned an MBA from the University of Denver.
This experience led her to Xcel Energy, the fifth largest investor-owned utility in the United States. While at Xcel Energy, she oversaw the management of the company’s customer-facing renewable energy products such as Solar*Rewards (250+ MW rooftop solar). She was also a key participant in the legislative, rulemaking and subsequent program development efforts for community solar initiatives in Colorado and Minnesota. Her career illustrates what is possible in the rapidly growing solar industry, whether you bring business acumen, legislative knowledge or technical ability. The industry is broad and, with proper training, there’s a place for everyone.
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