Change-It-Up Radio

041: Saying and Doing the Right Thing

KIMBERLEE CENTERA

“People ​aren’t ​really ​compelled ​by ​what ​you ​say, ​they’re ​really ​compelled ​by ​what ​you ​do.”

Kim Centera, the CEO and Founder of TerraPro Solutions, provides high-level expertise in the development and implementation of renewable energy projects, including wind, solar, and energy storage. She joins me today to share how sustainable energy is helping to reduce our carbon footprint and clean up the environment.

We Discuss:

  • Saying the right thing when you don’t know what to say
  • What renewable energy is and what’s involved in renewable energy projects
  • Some of the biggest challenges and risks involved in developing energy projects
  • What the future of renewable energy within the U.S. looks like
  • Careers for women in the sustainable energy industry

Today we’re talking about saying the right thing when you don’t know what to say and how we can make the planet a better place by embracing renewable energy.

Transcript

Welcome back to change it up.

Now here’s your host, Paula Shaw.

Paula Shaw: Welcome back to Change It Up Radio with Paula Shaw and as promised in this segment, we are going to be talking with Kim Centera, the CEO and founder of TerraPro Solutions. This is a company that is a leader in the development of renewable energy projects and a champion, get this ladies, of women in renewable energy. Kim began her career in renewable energy over twenty-five years ago. I didn’t even know people were thinking about it then, thank goodness. And today she oversees an exceptional team of professionals who provide turnkey project development solutions for renewable energy, utilities. And nearly all the employees of TerraPro are women Who we like to interview change makers on this show. And Kim, you are certainly one of those. So, I want to I want to take this back to square one for my listeners.

Paula Shaw: First of all, what is renewable energy?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, renewable energy is typically involves wind, solar and even battery storage projects as a result of them recent mandates in California, commercial scale projects. So for our typical utilities that we’re familiar with, like San Diego Gas and Electric, and these would be projects that are either acquired or developed from the greenfield stage and then put into operations so that they can provide energy and power to the users. So, users like us.

Paula Shaw: So, what is the greenfield stage?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, greenfield stage typically means that you’re starting development of a project from its inception where perhaps there’s been no project previously developed. It could be in an area or county or it could even be in a particular jurisdiction. So, yes.

Paula Shaw: So, give me an example of like who comes to you and what kind of a project do they need your help with?

Kimberlee Centera: A lot of our clients are in various different sizes, but in the energy space. But they are looking to perhaps identify an ideal location for a project. So, we will look at transmission, we’ll look at interconnection, we’ll look at permitting and environmental aspects. We’ll help them identify land locations. And then we will take them through that development process, very similar to a typical commercial process. But in our case, we’re focused on an end use of energy. So, it would be need to be ideal for the location of a solar or a wind project, which in a lot of cases we find are more in more rural settings as opposed to urban settings. Right. For the most part, for sure.

Paula Shaw: So, if I want to start a wind farm, I might come to you and say, I have no idea where to do this. I don’t know what the wind conditions are. I don’t know what the laws are. And you are the person that can help me with all that finding the property and knowing all those other things.

Kimberlee Centera: Yes, really. In fact, I just wrote an article about Repower where which is similar to Greenfield. But you need to look at all of those different aspects. One of the one of my employees at Terra Pro actually was involved in the permitting for the first meteorological tower in San Diego, which is a tower that measures wind and the process of getting that tower approved. I took about a year and cost almost a million dollars. Oh, my gosh. And so, this was supposed to be a ministerial permit and it involved appearing before the Board of Supervisors. And it was a very lengthy and extensive process of getting the community and the governing body, you know, familiar with this this tower and what was going to be done. So that’s just an example of the types of things that we, you know, undertake when we’re working with a client to try to help them understand the regime and what to expect. Now, if you’re out in Palm Springs or perhaps other areas where you have legacy projects, then you certainly are going to have a different reception. And what is a legacy project up there at Altamont Pass? Tehachapi Pass, a Palm Springs are considered a legacy when areas when regimes, just because there’s been projects out there for 25, 30 years and a lot of cases. So when you’re evaluating a project and you might be comparing a greenfield project where there’s never been a project with a jurisdiction like that where the permitting is known, the communities are familiar, they’re accustomed to seeing wind turbines or whatever it might be, then you’re going to have a different process for your project that you might have otherwise. And would it be a little easier maybe since the ground work’s already been laid? Certainly, it would be easier, correct. And we try to help our clients understand what that process is going to be. And certainly, if you have a precedent, then you can look at that. And a lot of those you know, your laws are known, setbacks are known, permitting is non environmental. Some of these pieces that we need to understand are much more readily identifiable.

Paula Shaw: I see. So I find myself wondering because I’ll be on three ninety five pretty soon taking a trip and you see the windmills and you see now I’m seeing are they called solar farms, all those solar projects, solar projects.  How much usable energy really comes from those means?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, on the commercial side, you know, it can be two or three hundred thousand homes. You know, it just depends on the size of the project. I mean, certainly in different areas, you know, depending, you know, we work on anything from two to five megawatt projects all the way up to two hundred and fifty-five hundred megawatt projects.

Paula Shaw: So, to put that in perspective, like, how many megawatts does it take to turn on lights in San Diego.

Kimberlee Centera: Well, you know, typically on that scale, it’s going to you’re probably talking about kilowatts. You know, most of you know, if you’re talking about the average vehicle, then you’re measuring in kilowatt usage. So, it’s a much, much, much smaller. Right. Right. So, when you start to talk about megawatts, that’s a much higher volume usage. And then as you go up, of course, and you move into more of a commercial scale.

Paula Shaw: So, most of our energy still comes from what sources?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, fossil fuels. You know, we’re accustomed to that. Certainly, natural gas, right? Right. A lot of our, a lot of our energy. And, you know, on the grand scale of renewables is still probably represents a smaller portion. But one of the advantages of renewables, having been around for as many years, is that it’s much more price competitive than it used to be. Oh, that’s so much more competitive with natural gas and that type of thing.

Paula Shaw: And what about the impact on the earth? I mean, because of fossil fuels, they came from the earth initially. Right. And gas comes from the earth. But what’s the impact versus, let’s say something like wind or solar.

Kimberlee Centera: The impact in terms of fossil fuels or renewables?

Paula Shaw: I mean, are we are we hurt? Obviously, we must be depleting the amount of fossil fuels, right? I mean, someday you could run out, right?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, you know, I think it’s a different emphasis. Right. I mean, California has passed SB 101, SB 700, and with the 100 percent renewables by 2045, the goal is to move to zero carbon. And when you look at the stakeholders in California across the board, so businesses, universities, all of our different parties that are concerned, climate change and water are the two biggest concerns in California. So certainly, the governor’s response and in these mandates that were passed, I think are to address that. So I think it’s a very important part of looking at our state and where we want to go and, you know, creating a better, you know, a better earth and for our children.

Paula Shaw: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s huge. And I know there’s a lot of concern out there right now about the nuclear energy and the nuclear waste and all of that. So certainly, if we can be getting more of our energy from nice, clean methods like wind and solar, that’s got to be a step in the right direction, right?

Kimberlee Centera: Right. I think so. You know, a lot of it is about diversifying. You know, when we think about, I read some staggering statistics, really about the damage to a lot of our Air Force planes and everything in Florida from the recent hurricane. When we think about security, you know, what’s happening with all these fires, with all these hurricanes, it definitely represents a real change in our environment and our climate. And so I think addressing carbon fuels, even if you’re not a big proponent of sustainability or renewables, I think we need to face the fact that our climate is changing and there really is real evidence out there, even if we want to ignore the scientific evidence. Certainly, what we’re saying in terms of changes, it’s all around us. So, embracing renewables, moving it forward is one way to help with reducing that carbon footprint and helping to clean up the environment.

Paula Shaw: Yeah, and that’s so important. And especially here in San Diego, we’re very concerned about methods that don’t pollute the ocean as well, because that’s a huge problem, right?

Kimberlee Centera: Absolutely. I mean, we’re very concerned about water. And, you know, I think a little bit of our challenge, certainly working with our clients in California is always a location of these projects. You know, we have to be selective. And I we always work together with the communities to try to make sure that the siting all the sensitivities for locations, you know, providing environmental, all those things have to be addressed. I mean, in California, it takes several years and many millions of dollars really to get a permit for these projects. So, it’s a very scrutinized process.

Paula Shaw: So, it does take a commitment to want to do go the renewable path because of this. There is money that has to be spent to make it happen, even though ultimately maybe, you know, the energy that’s produced is going to be less expensive and better for the Earth. But when we come back from this break, let’s explore that a little bit, Kim, and I’d love to talk to you about your emphasis on women in this career, so we will be right back.

We’ll be right back with more change it up with Paula Shawon AM 11 17

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There’s nobody better to turn to than Paula Shaw. Paula helps people regain successful lives by identifying and eliminating self-sabotaging behavior, using a multitude of mind body techniques to identify and resolve their core issues, working with a wide variety of healing modalities. She provides her clients with the most effective process for their specific needs to book a session with Paula. Call 858.480.9234. That’s 858.480.9234.

Welcome back to change it up.

Now here’s your host, Paula Shaw.

Paula Shaw: Welcome back to Change It Up radio with Paula Shaw

Paula Shaw: In studio with me today is Kim Centera, who is the founder and CEO of TerraPro Solutions. We’re talking about renewable energy today, and that is a critical topic these days, particularly here in San Diego, since we have all sorts of issues that we’re talking about now. We’ve got a nuclear plant not too far from us. We do have solar farms and wind farms and that kind of thing going on in our county. So, we need to be informed. We need to know more about the pros and cons of what’s going on today in renewable energy. So, Kim joined us today so we can talk about that a little bit more. And her company, if you’re just joining us, takes care of all of the basic work that would need to be done to find a location. I think you said can take care permits, look into does the wind blow there, you know, that kind of thing for people who are trying to establish sustainable energy projects. So, it’s a very important company TerraPro. And by the way, Kim, let’s give your contact info if anybody’s interested in learning more about TerraPro. Yes, it would be www.TerraProSolutions.com. That’s www.TerraProSolutions.com. So if you’re somebody out there who is entertaining the idea of a sustainable energy project, this is the woman and that is the company you want to know about because they can take care of all of that initial work that needs to be done to get that project on its feet. Right? Correct. So, here’s something that we learned about Kim in our last segment. And I want to explore this a little bit with her right now. By the way, besides being the founder and CEO, this woman is very busy speaking out there in the world, educating people about this whole topic and encouraging young women to get into renewable energy careers. So, I would really love to know more about that.

Paula Shaw: Kim, first of all, you started was it twenty-five years ago?

Kimberlee Centera: I started twenty-five years ago working for a small wind company based here in San Diego, privately owned. And at that time, I had no idea that this industry even existed. So, I was very surprised to learn and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go into a great environment with very supportive management team. And I see that now as I look back, it was really the foundation for a lot of my career, having supportive management, especially men. And then also I had several pivotal moments throughout my early career where I had the opportunity to really test myself and see what I was capable of. And I went for it. I decided to pursue it. And so that really was, I think, now very pivotal for creating where I am now.

Paula Shaw: So, share with us one of those pivotal moments. And by the way, were you, like the only lady in in the industry back then?

Kimberlee Centera: It’s interesting you should mention that, because in those early days, there were very few women in the room, very few renewables is tied to energy, which is really tied to the utility industry, which is predominantly male and then has a, you know, a long history of, you know, more of what I would say kind of a governmental background.

Paula Shaw: Yeah, that’s what I would think.

Kimberlee Centera: And so, moving into renewables, I think was certainly in the early days, you had to be willing to speak up and have a voice. It was very important. And sitting in a room of men, even if I wasn’t confident, you know, I had to be willing to have an opinion and express it. It was very important.

Paula Shaw: And, you know, that’s a huge piece right there. A little while back, I interviewed Kathleen Kingsbury, who wrote a book called Breaking Money Silence. And we were talking about women and money. There’s another place where it’s tough to speak up, you know, especially getting into those industries.

Paula Shaw: And I think that’s such a hard thing for so many women because. We were taught that, yeah, not officially, I think, and certainly the younger women are going to go, no, we weren’t taught that. But my generation, you know, you looked to men for certain things and women. I mean, when I went to college and I won’t say how long ago that was a little while back. You were either going to be a teacher or a home economist, maybe a flight attendant or a nurse. Those were the biggies. You know, like you weren’t going to college to get a law degree or become a doctor. Obviously, women broke through that at a certain point. But, you know, when I divorced my husband back then, I couldn’t get a credit card in my own name. Only a man could get a credit card. So, I can imagine twenty-five years ago when sustainable energy is probably a pretty new concept. There you are in a room full of guys that would be almost like, you know, being with a bunch of lawyers way back when not too many women had done that or other professions that we think financial advisors, things that tend to be more dominated by men. It must have been a little scary on some levels, huh?

Kimberlee Centera: You know, it was intimidating at times, and I think I always felt like I could prove myself by putting my actions in place, by the work that I did. Yes. You know, people aren’t really compelled by what you say. They’re really compelled by what you do. And so, you know, at that time, I was working on projects all across the United States. And typically, as I said, they’re in very rural communities. So, I would be out meeting with attorneys sometimes and working with landowners and very rural attorneys. And I think it’s very important not to become defensive. You know you know, you’re in an environment. You’re maybe the only woman. You’ve got to collaborate. You’ve got to figure out a solution. And I learned early just not to take things personally, that I have a job to do, be professional. I can come up with a solution. And in almost every case, if it started out difficult in the beginning, then if I was able to convert that person over, it was because of the work that I did. I kept on showing up, kept on working hard, stayed professional, didn’t get defensive, and that usually made the difference and winning the person over to my side.

Paula Shaw: And I think that’s great advice for any woman in any profession, really, but especially in one where you’re breaking into one that’s predominantly male. So how do you support women today in doing that? I know you’re really all about getting them into this renewable energy industry.

Kimberlee Centera: Well, it’s a good question. And my business is predominantly women. And I like to tell people that it really isn’t you know, it’s not a political statement. I really didn’t start out saying I’m just going to hire women. But when I started to look at growing my company and I looked around at the smart people in the room, it really was a lot of really great women who I worked with in the past. And I said, you know, come and work with me. And certainly, having a small business, you know, all of my women that are working with me have left larger companies. But I think the other thing about working in renewables that I would, you know, counsel women to think about is you have to be willing to take a risk, you know, I mean, it’s predominant in renewables. It’s a very it can be a very volatile industry. But I think, you know, the chances to succeed are great and make a difference. But you have to be willing to take a risk.

Paula Shaw: So, what do you major in in college if you want to pursue that kind of a career?

Kimberlee Centera: Well, certainly technical. You know, there’s a huge demand for engineers and anything technical, lawyers, you know, certainly business project managers understanding, you know, finding good mentors and understanding renewables and some of the components and pieces. There’s a lot of great organizations out there. WRISE, which is a W-R-I-S-E, it’s one of the local women’s sustainable groups. They offer some great programs that they just had one on repowering of sites, which was very informative. So, if you search there, there’s programs out there that will help you to find the right nesh in and where you belong.

Paula Shaw: That’s so great. And people like you who are out there speaking and providing education for women who are interested in this career, right?

Kimberlee Centera: Absolutely. I mean, I you know, when we talk about pivotal moments and you asked me about that earlier and there were probably a couple of them, but more recently, I’d like you. I had gone through a very painful and difficult divorce in 2011. And then 2012 came around. And after I put that behind me, I thought, OK, I’m just going to settle down and focus on my career. And at that time, I was working for a very large global utility. So, I thought my, the rest of my career was set only to find out that I was going to be laid off and the office was going to close. So, it was a really a pivotal moment for me because I had to go through that. You know, you talked about grief and change all that I had to go through to realize that you know what? And I was in my 50s, so, you know, do I restart my life in my career? And that’s what I did. I restart. I took a chance on myself.

Paula Shaw: Is that when you created TerraPro?

Kimberlee Centera: That’s when I created TerraPro.

Paula Shaw: And I was a huge, pivotal moment.

Kimberlee Centera: It was. And I was just speaking at another conference recently, and I was telling the ladies that, you know, thinking about that I had a job offer for a very large company. And so was either that or do I take the chance on myself and mention the risk. And I everything I’m doing now for myself, I could have done for that company, but then it all would have been for their benefit. Yes. And a lot of the women and, the things that I’ve been able to do, I wouldn’t have had that option, so risk I ride that risk, so I took the risk and here we are.

Paula Shaw: Oh, and I’m so delighted and I’m so delighted to have had you here with me today, Kim, opening this door and giving a lot of great information to all the women out there and the men who might be interested in this career. So, I thank you for being with us today. And again, that website was TerraProSolutions.com. Correct. All right, great, TerraPro Solutions. And that will also be in the show notes on changitupradio.com. And if you want to learn more about my work, you can find that out at Polisar dot com. Thank you all for being with us. You can hear this show at nine o’clock on Sunday evenings on AM 11 70 or FM 96.1 And we are on every major podcast platform. And you can also hear the archived shows on changeitupradio.com. Please check out our Facebook and Instagram pages. We want to hear from you. We want to know what you want shows about.

Paula Shaw: Thanks again for joining me today, Kim, and thank you to all of you. We’ll see you next week. Bye.

Thanks for listening to change it up with live transitions, expert, speaker and bestselling author Paula Shaw joined the Change It Up movement, the coalition as we explore topics that inspire welcome change and create a new kind of conversation to learn more about Paula, how to be a guest on the show and sponsorship opportunities visit changing up radio dot com. Whether you’re feeling happy or sad might be glad it never hurts to change it on.

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