Name: Matthew Doubleday
Title: Director of Interconnection
Employer: ReWild Renewables
City/Town of Residence: Portsmouth, NH
Why did you decide to work in the clean energy industry?
I decided to work in the renewable energy field as I am driven by the threats of climate change and the environmental damage done by burning fossil fuels to power our lives. I have a strong desire to contribute to the growth of renewable energy to replace fossil fuel generation and found that working with this team was the best way to contribute to the growth of solar in the Northeast.
What interested you in working at your current employer?
I've worked with part of this current team for over 8 years and initially I was interested by the type of projects the company was working on, the entrepreneurial nature of the organization, and the sense of camaraderie that existed within the team. While the type of projects has changed over time, all of this otherwise still provides the same level of interest and excitement to me today.
Describe the work you do in more detail.
My main responsibility is to bring our projects through the utility interconnection process as quickly and cost-effectively as possible so they can reach commercial operation on schedule. We have projects in many stages of the interconnection process and what the project needs each day or week depends on its current stage and where it may be going next. Some projects are in the pre-application phase and we attempt to understand the likelihood of a viable interconnection based on the existing generation in the area, the substation capacity, and local peak and minimum loads. Other projects are further along and may have had 'System Impact Studies' completed, so the utility has reviewed our project, told us the work they need to do to accommodate our project, including the equipment that needs to be upgraded or installed, and have given us a price for that work. At this point the information provided by the utility factors into a decision for the project on proceeding forward to construction, reducing the project size to eliminate some upgrades, or cancelling the project altogether if the results are unfavorable enough. We hope the latter happens infrequently but it unfortunately does happen. And finally, other projects are in the construction phase so we have made a decision to move forward, paid the utility, are working with them on their design including their pole locations on the project site, working on easements and rights of way, and are discussing their schedule for any significant upgrades like a line rebuild or a substation transformer upgrade. This final stage is key to getting the projects online on schedule. If we know a project has significant upgrades we will do our best to pay the utility early so they can order long lead time items and put us in line in their construction queue.
What aspect of your job excites you most? Why?
The System Impact Study phase is quite interesting to me. Receiving the results of studies and making adjustments so a project could proceed without burdensome upgrade costs is key to a project's success. We always want to build a larger project but if a project can reduce its size by 10% and save 40% on interconnection it is a worthwhile trade-off. I also work on policy and, along with other companies and trade groups, advocate for making improvements to the interconnection process. I find that work incredibly interesting and necessary.
What makes you hopeful about the clean energy transition in New Hampshire?
We have a lot to learn from the other states around us, which I think is good. To use what I know, every other state in New England has had more solar energy installed than New Hampshire and all of them have had successful programs that create clear regulations and policies for projects to be successful. I think we can learn a lot from our neighboring states and create a successful clean energy program in New Hampshire that provides fair incentives for producing renewable energy and provides certainty around development so long term investments can be made and the policies can be relied upon.
What do you believe is the most pressing challenge that lies ahead for the clean energy industry in the state?
Interconnection. Not a shocking answer given my role. We need the process to move much more quickly, from the application stage to the study to construction and commissioning. We also certainly need more transmission everywhere so that we can move clean power over long distances from areas where it can be generated to areas where it needs to be used. And finally, the way that projects pay for interconnection needs to change. When a substation transformer is replaced or several miles are rebuilt, the project that triggered those upgrades is not the only beneficiary but it is required to pay for all of that work. Other projects coming after it will benefit, the ratepayers will benefit through better reliability and fewer outages, the utility will benefit in the same manner, and the state will benefit in reaching its renewable energy goals on time. In many cases those upgrades are needed before the project came along, the project just happened to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Resolving many of these challenges with interconnection will create a path for more renewable energy to be installed in a cost effective manner.
What interested you most about being part of YPiE?
We're all learning so being able to share ideas, news, successes and failures with like-minded young individuals working in this space is really valuable for me.
What advice would you give to someone that is new to the industry or fresh out of college?
Build out your network and find new ways to learn about the industry. I studied accounting so I never knew anything about solar let alone interconnection. But I found that using podcasts on industry topics (the Energy Gang), news stories from sources like Utility Dive, and informational materials from industry trade groups (in solar - SEIA, CCSA, NECEC, CENH) was incredibly helpful to learning more about the industry and has allowed me to have success in my role.
A typical weekend for me is…
Moving outside in any capacity. Ideally into the mountains.
What’s on your bucket list?
Some sort of bike-packing adventure.
Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
I'm a huge introvert.
I like coffee (black) but I do love green and herbal tea as well
My favorite restaurant is Ceres Bakery in Portsmouth
My favorite musician is Gregory Alan Isakov is my favorite artist. I also enjoy 90s hip hop, Celtic/folk, and sea shanties
My favorite activity is rail running anywhere, but particularly in the White Mountains