Rachel Kuykendall, 32, senior programs manager, Sonoma Clean Power in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.
Responsibilities with your company: I serve as senior programs manager at Sonoma Clean Power and am responsible for design and implementation of programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support affordable energy for Sonoma Clean Power customers. Manages Sonoma Clean Power’s aggregated demand response offering, GridSavvy, which leverages residential electric vehicle charging stations, commercial and industrial battery storage, heat pump water heaters, and smart thermostats to shape Sonoma Clean Power customer load to match supply.
Collaborated with PG&E and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to design and implement the Advanced Energy Rebuild program, which offers incentives to homeowners rebuilding all-electric carbon free homes after the November 2017 firestorms. Wrote and was awarded $9.9 million in California Energy Commission EPIC grant funding (GFO 17-304) for establishing a physical Energy Marketplace where Sonoma Clean Power customers can directly procure energy efficiency and fuel switching technologies. Helps support and manage Sonoma Clean Power’s Drive EV program, which has deployed over 1,000 electric vehicles and over 2,000 residential EVSEs to SCP customers.
How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?: I challenge traditional utility business models by bringing carbon-reducing programs... like the Advanced Energy Rebuild effort... to Sonoma and Mendocino residents.
Years with company: 2
Length of time in current position: 2 months
Greatest professional accomplishment: After the 2017 fires, I worked with PG&E and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to set up a program providing up to $17,500 in incentives to Sonoma and Mendocino county residents that were rebuilding their homes.
Each of the participating organizations has their own unique goals and regulatory challenges, and it was incredible rewarding to steer the program design process for what would become Advanced Energy Rebuild. I worked hard to create a program that was accessible to homeowners who may know very little about energy efficiency and to reach compromise between the three organizations on program design features.
Greatest professional challenge: I have a tendency to involve myself in every project because I like being able to contribute to multiple projects. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to discipline myself to delegate and focus more strategically and long term.
Best advice received: There is no one brand of leadership, so lean into the unique person that you are.
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: We just had our first homeowner finish rebuilding their home in November, and he invited me to his housewarming party. It was amazing to see the impact of the $17,500 first-hand. That homeowner is now taking the lessons he learned and helping his neighbors rebuild.
What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?: Sonoma Clean Power is great about separating work from personal life. It’s the first company I’ve worked for where everyone is out the door by 5 PM from the CEO to the interns. While we work extremely hard, emphasis is put on valuing employees by encouraging reasonable hours, vacations, and work/life balance.
Next professional goal: My career is all about finding ways to reduce local carbon emissions. I’d like to spend the next year tackling emissions in existing buildings and in transportation. For existing buildings, our team is working to open a physical storefront where homeowners can test and buy discounted energy efficiency technologies like heat pumps and induction cooktops. For transportation, I want to focus on how to provide more electric vehicles to low-income markets, as these customers are often disproportionately affected by climate change.
Forty Under 40 Winner
Senior Programs Manager
Sonoma Clean Power
50 Santa Rosa Ave 5th Floor, Santa Rosa 95404