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Q&A with Mark Green of NorthRenew Energy: Going From A Green Field to a Fully Constructed Clean Energy Facility

Picture of rolling green hills and blue sky with tilled soil in the foreground.

Michelle Bartlomé, executive director of Idaho Energy Freedom, recently interviewed Mark Green, Development Director for NorthRenew Energy, about his career in clean energy development and project management. NorthRenew has two projects in the works in Idaho. 

Below is that interview, edited for clarity and conciseness. 

A head and shoulder photo of Mark Green, smiling in a suit.

IEF: Hi, Mark. Thank you for talking to us today. Can you share a little bit about your background to start?

Green: I have an Aeronautical Engineering degree and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I started working in renewable energy in 1991 for a company that did waste management to energy development. We took municipal solid waste, shredded it to remove the metals and used it for combustion, steam, and electricity. 

I’ve had exposure across the full spectrum of energy operations: the financing, the insurance, the contract power sales, fuel supplies, and all that. With that exposure, I got a chance to become an assistant project manager, project manager, and then the opportunity to run various subsidiaries. 

I’ve worked in many sectors like government affairs, community relations, sales, utility interconnection, landowner relationships, and more. I started working with NorthRenew in 2018.

IEF: What do you do with NorthRenew Energy now?

Green: I work with a core group of individuals who, like me, each have about 30 years of experience in the renewable energy financing sector. Our job is to go from a green field to the commencement of construction. Our goal is to have partners who understand the financing component and understand what a land lease or a power sales agreement or what kind of permit you need to have in place to be a viable financing component. It’s key. 

To start, we need to know what you’re working toward, and then we work backwards from there, making sure we’re working within industry standards.

Q: Industry standards?

A: Yes, the ability to make sure you’re not just looking at the financing piece, but the physical piece. You need to make sure roads are wide enough, slopes are the right slope, geotech work has been done in the right way, things like that, so not only can you pass the financial scrutiny, but when all the engineers take a look, you’ve got a well-designed facility. 

We are early stage developers, so we’ll start from a green field. We meet with landowners for the first time and discuss potential opportunities at an early stage and then work with that partner to take it to commencement and construction financing. 

That’s part of the relationship network that can help us identify the right location for wind energy, solar storage, and many other projects. We have multiple projects in Texas, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, and earlier stage things in Midwestern states like Nebraska, the Dakotas, and more. 

IEF: What kind of projects have you done in Idaho and what kind of projects do you have in the works?

Green: Right now, we have two projects here. One is Arco Wind and Solar, located about 15 miles west of Idaho Falls on about 32,000 acres of land that straddles Route 20 before you get to the INL area. That project is in the advanced stage of interconnection with both Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power PacifiCorp. We have done extensive environmental work.Typically, you do at least one year of avian and bat monitoring. We did two years of eagle monitoring, as well as research sage-grouse flights, raptor nest flights — all of that has all been done for that site. We have the major permits at both Bonneville and Bingham County for the conditional use. We’re also heavily engaged in the power sales component of it with Idaho Power and PacifiCorp. That should be between 350 and 400 megawatts of wind and solar energy with battery storage capability. 

The other project is the Appaloosa Wind and Solar project, located about 15 miles southeast of Mountain Home, in Elmore County, just north of where some of the existing wind facilities are. This project is about a 330 to 350 megawatt facility on about 17,000 acres and is also in the advanced stages. A lot of the same environmental work has been done. Interconnection is very advanced with Idaho Power. This project is not as advanced as Arco, so we have more permitting work to do. 

Q: Why Idaho? What are the benefits of doing projects like these in Idaho?

A: Idaho was one of the areas where we were there before other folks because of partners like [IEF Advisory Council member] John Steiner who is a long-time landowner who knows the area. Having someone who understands ranching and farming in the West is key.

Idaho has good wind and solar resources, and landowners are receptive. Not all, but I see a wide range of landowners, and I’ll give you that in Idaho, they’ve been great to work with. Great. Period. And the counties that I’ve worked with also have been great. 

And then there’s also Idaho’s commercial growth. The Microns and the Metas and the Googles are all coming into the area, and you’re gonna need new power for new customers. And [the need for] replacement power for folks that are transitioning off coal. 

Q: What do you see for clean energy in the future?

A: Now, it’s economically competitive. You’ve got more efficient solar, more efficient wind generation capabilities. And, now you can compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis. You can’t really beat that price, whether you’re a coal facility or another power plant, it won’t beat that price. 

Mark Green has 28 years of project development and subsidiary management experience. Twenty of those years were dedicated to the renewable energy sector and include “greenfield” developments and facility acquisitions across a broad spectrum of renewable energy technologies including: waste-to-energy, utility-scale solar, biodiesel and anaerobic digester systems. In addition to hands-on project development and management experience, Mark has extensive project finance, development funding and venture capital procurement experience. Prior to joining NorthRenew, Mark was Vice President and General Manager of Energy Answers International’s Puerto Rico subsidiary, dedicated to the development of a 2,100 ton per day, 80 MW waste-to-energy facility.

Stay tuned for part two of this conversation! 

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