Mar 13, 2018 | In the News

March 13, 2018 – US Utilities Turning Shuttered Coal Generating Facilities Into Solar Power Plants

The good news is that more and more coal powered generating facilities are being taken offline as competition from natural gas and renewables make them too expensive to operate. The bad news is the land they are built on is often so battered and bruised from years of pollution it can’t be used for anything else.

The majority of that pollution comes from coal ash stored on the premises. That nasty stuff is what remains after coal is burned. It contains concentrations of mercury, arsenic, and hexavalent chromium, to name but a few. Not only does the property have little commercial value because it is basically a toxic waste dump, but maintaining it after a generating station is decommissioned costs a lot of money. According to Utility Dive, A study by the Tennessee Valley Authority last year found it costs $3.5 million a year to monitor and maintain a 22 acre coal ash lagoon. A 350 acre lagoon can cost as much as $200 million a year.

Now factor in that the Sierra Club recently found that there are 1,424 coal waste disposal sites across the United States, of which nearly 1,100 are coal ash storage ponds. Do the math and you come up with a staggering number and, of course, the way the utility industry is structured in most of the country, utility customers get stuck with the bill. Nevertheless, the utility companies went whining to Congress about the costs of monitoring their pollution as mandated by the hated Obama Administration.

That program cost about $100 million a year for the whole country — about half the cost of maintaining one large coal ash pond. How dare a black man order right-thinking, God-fearing white men to spend money on cleaning up the mess they made? It’s unlawful! Illegal! Unconstitutional! And Scott Pruitt, the Darth Vader of the Trump administration agreed. He is hard at work rolling back that and other “job killing regulations” to please his corporate masters.

But there is a glimmer of hope in the darkness. Two small US utility companies — Holyoke Gas and Electric in Massachusetts and Orlando Utilities Commission Energy Center in Florida — have built solar power plants atop coal ash ponds that have been capped. Repurposing shuttered coal plant sites is “an overlooked opportunity to put these sites back into use and bring jobs and investment to communities that have been hit hard,” says Tom McKittrick, CEO of Forsite Development, a North Carolina company that makes its living finding new and profitable uses for old utility installations. “A lot of utilities tear the plant down, put a fence around the site, and forget about it, but they can turn these liabilities into assets.”

Not every site will be suitable for solar panels, however. Each has to be evaluated on its own merits. Factors like flat land that is not in a flood plain and availability of a substation and high voltage transmission lines in the area are important but community support for the project is critical. “Community support is crucial in any project and, in many places, even if you are building the fountain of youth, there will be complaints,” says Jonathan Cole, CEO of Greenwood Energy, the company that made the Holyoke, Massachusetts solar power plant a reality.

Other utility companies are beginning to take notice. Projects in Pittsburgh and Michigan are under consideration. Repurposing generating stations may not be sexy, but it could become an important piece of making America’s utility grid greener, which will benefit us all. “The key to the project’s viable economics was the falling price of solar modules,” says Jonathan Cole said. “It would not have been financially viable at 2015 panel prices.” All the more reason why the latest tariff increases on solar cells and solar panels is the wrong move at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

nate@kairosdigital.com

nate@kairosdigital.com

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Gary Greene

Project Manager

Gary, joined the Forsite team in 2021 as Project Manager after 35 years of industrial construction and manufacturing experience. During his manufacturing career, Gary had a multitude of roles–starting in production and quality control, moving onto plant site utilities and finishing in maintenance.
 
As the plant maintenance manager, Gary coordinated maintenance and electrical teams to ensure that all plant operations and goals were achieved. Gary is responsible for Site and Project Management at one of Forsite’s largest industrial properties.

Bill Abraczinskas

Director of Environmental

Prior to joining Forsite, Bill spent 30 years in global environmental engineering firms prior to creating his own business to provide environmental consulting and engineering services to the industrial and commercial markets.
 
His background is in large-scale civil remediation projects involving design/build, earthwork, in-situ remediation, pump and treatment systems, demolition, thermal incineration, facility rehabilitation, and wetlands restoration. Bill’s strengths include guiding clients through compliance with regulatory agencies. Bill is currently shepparding one of Forsite’s largest Risk Transfer projects through demolition and remediation in order to be repurposed to Forsite’s needs.

Gerald Stroner

Facilities Manager

Gerry joined the Forsite team in 2017 as Facilities Manager at ReVenture Park in Charlotte, NC. Gerry supervises repair and upkeep of all buildings, equipment and vehicles, grounds maintenance and heavy equipment operations.
 
He also provides facilities management at our Edge Water Treating waste water treatment facility in Salisbury, NC.

Gerry is currently pursuing waste water operator credentials, and is developing drone photography services for Forsite.

A native of Big Bear Lake, California, Gerry is an army veteran with 11 years construction experience in earthquake country. He now lives in Huntersville NC.

Greg Coleman

Principal

Greg represents the perfect blend of mechanical practical ability and theoretical engineering acumen. A native of Northern Australia, Greg was compelled to hone his mechanical skills keeping farm equipment operational in harsh conditions.
 
Additionally, this mechanical ingenuity led Greg to study Engineering and pursue a career in the consulting business with companies such as URS and Geosyntec. Greg is the Technical Director for all of Forsite’s endeavors including power, wastewater, construction, decommissioning, demolition and environmental liability projects.

Bobby Glidewell

Staff Landman

Bobby Glidewell is a senior member of our land team responsible for the land acquisition of our projects. Bobby has over 30 years of experience in land management.
 
Prior to Forsite, Bobby worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Lead Land Services Representative. Bobby has also held senior land roles with numerous energy companies where he was able to manage the land efforts of natural gas projects. Bobby holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from John Brown University. Bobby resides in Northwest Arkansas.

Drew Connors

Development Manager

Drew Connors is a member of our development team responsible for the research of new sites along with assisting with solar and battery storage development and engineering. Drew comes from a commercial construction background, where he was managing new build and renovation projects for clients in the financial services industry.
 
Drew studied at The University of Alabama in the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then stayed at Alabama to pursue further studies in business and energy systems and received a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering as well.

Marijon Owens

Project Developer

MariJon (“MJ”) recently moved over to Forsite Renewables from Forsite’s risk transfer division. MJ is supporting the development of later-stage projects as they progress toward the start of construction. She brings a keen attention to detail and project management expertise to these projects, overseeing some critical path processes to ensure the projects are completed on time and under budget.
 
Prior roles at Forsite include Risk Transfer Project Manager responsible for supervising the demolition and remediation of a chemical facility site and operations manager of Forsite’s Clean Energy renewable natural gas facility at ReVenture Park. Additionally, MJ has served as project manager, logistics coordinator, risk manager, safety officer and quality proponent at various Forsite locations. MJ was raised on a farm in eastern North Carolina and studied in NC, TX and the UK, graduating with a BA in 1991.

Ann Haney

Director of Real Estate

Ann oversees the title and survey process and manages all land contracts. Prior to joining Forsite, she worked as a Real Estate Manager for solar development projects and a title analyst for wind development.
 
Prior to her energy career, she has 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Ann has a JD from Boston College.

Mark Albert

Senior Director of Development

Mark Albert is a senior member of our development team responsible for battery storage, engineering, and business development. Mark has more than 25 years of renewable energy sales and development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Mark was Vice President of Business Development for an international battery company where he was responsible for all sales and marketing, technical assessments, system modelling, and preliminary project designs for the company’s utility scale battery storage business. Prior to that, Mark served as Vice President of Development for a geothermal energy development firm where he was instrumental in the company’s growth over his 17 years there, negotiating and executing PPAs totalling $2 billion in revenues. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Washington University.

Scott Donaubauer

Director of Solar + Storage Development

Scott has over 15 years of experience in the power and industrial sectors and is responsible for solar and battery storage as well as business development.
 
Prior to Forsite, Scott was a mechanical design & field engineer, and project manager. Most recently he founded an energy services company specializing in field services and startup & commissioning. Scott has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa.

Kenny Gunter

Director of Land Acquisition

With his prior experience as a Solar Project Developer, Kenny is mainly involved in early site assessment, and develops land acquisition strategies. He oversees all land acquisitions, and manages our landmen.
 
Prior to joining Forsite, he not only worked as a Solar Project Developer, but also managed landmen in both solar, and oil & gas spaces, and worked as a landman in the oil and gas development field.
Kenny has a BS in Finance from Penn State University, is a Registered Professional Landman, has a GIS Certificate from North Texas and is a Texas Notary.
 
 
 

Maegan Bean

Senior Director of Project Finance

Maegan Bean is a senior member of our finance team. Prior to Forsite, Maegan worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Director of Finance leading the team responsible for the financing of new ventures and as a Manager of Project Valuation leading a team responsible for the pricing and valuation of utility-scale wind, solar, and battery energy storage projects.
 
Maegan has also held roles with a focus on financial and statistical analysis in the aerospace/defense and actuarial consulting industries. Maegan holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Financial Economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Master of Engineering in Project Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.
 
 
 

Keith Kurtz

Vice President of Development

Keith Kurtz is a senior member of our development team responsible for solar and battery storage development. Keith has over 15 years of renewable energy development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Keith held senior-level development positions with numerous renewable energy development and manufacturing companies, where he was able to lead the development of multiple gigawatts worth of utility-scale renewable energy projects. Keith holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science in Applied Science from the University of Nebraska.

Kevin Day

President - Solar Development

Kevin has twenty years of experience developing and financing power generation facilities, including natural gas, wind and solar projects. Prior to Forsite, Kevin worked for First Solar as Director of Project and Business Development for the Eastern U.S.

Prior to First Solar, Kevin developed and financed wind projects at BP Wind Energy. Prior to BP Wind Energy, Kevin also developed wind projects for SilverPoint Energy, a company he founded, and was a Director of Project Finance for Panda Energy, a developer of combined cycle natural gas projects.

Kevin holds his BBA in finance, MBA and JD from the University of Oklahoma.

Michelle Skinner

Executive Administrative Assistant

Michelle Skinner is the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Forsite team. She serves as administrative support for the CEO, along with support for the COO and Director of Business Operations. Michelle is also responsible for Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable.

Prior to joining Forsite, Michelle spent 24 years with the Kraft Heinz Company in Massillon, Ohio, where she was responsible for payroll and administrative support to the Production Manager.  She also worked in the Administration and Human Resources departments.

Andrew Archer

Controller

Andrew Archer is the Financial Controller for Forsite. In this role, Andrew has oversight of the Accounting department, with responsibilities for the entire end-to-end accounting cycle of Forsite. This includes month-end close, financial reporting, budgeting/forecasting, cash flow projection, and developing internal control policies and procedures.

Prior to joining Forsite, Andrew spent 16 years in Real Estate Accounting with two Charlotte-based CRE firms, both as Director of Accounting. Andrew earned his B.A. in Economics and History before earning his MBA from FIU and an MBA+ Certificate with emphasis in Advanced Financial Reporting/Accounting from UNC Charlotte.

Andrew and his wife are originally from Jamaica. They moved to the US in 2003 and live in Gastonia, NC with their two sons and daughter.

Jenny Wesley

Paralegal

Jenny Wesley is a paralegal for Forsite’s legal department. She supports General Counsel and the Land Team with real estate transactions, titles, surveys, and more.

Prior to joining Forsite, Jenny worked for a law firm in Canton, Ohio for over 23 years where she provided real estate paralegal support. Jenny earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science for Legal Assisting from Stark State College. Jenny resides in North Carolina with her husband, daughter, and son. She enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and hiking through the woods.

Joshua Smith

General Counsel

As General Counsel, Josh manages Forsite’s legal department. Prior to joining Forsite, Josh was the chief legal officer for a utility-scale solar developer.

Before that, he worked as a corporate attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, a leading U.S. law firm, and served as an attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission. Josh holds an LL.M from American University Washington College of Law, a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. from Florida State University.

Shannon Doster

Director of Business Operations

Forsite Development day-to-day operations are managed by Shannon Doster. Her responsibilities include financial reporting, executive support, human resources, marketing, and property management administration.

 

Offering over 20 years of experience in business management, accounting, sales and marketing along with her previous job for an international corporation, has gained Shannon experience in many business sectors. This coupled with her versatility has contributed much to Forsite ’s ongoing success.

Shannon studied Business Management at York Technical College. She has special training in Six Sigma quality and has earned a Green Belt Certification. Shannon is also a licensed Real Estate Broker and is a Notary Public for North and South Carolina.

Ryan Ford

Chief Operating Officer

Ryan is responsible for the operations, strategy and project management of Forsite’s risk transfer, renewables and clean energy business lines. Prior to joining Forsite in 2018, Ryan’s background was in Engineering and Project Management; specifically, large-scale engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction (EPFC) projects.

Ryan has spent significant time on major construction sites, supervising installation of the design of new construction including coal, combined cycle and nuclear power plants.

Additionally, Ryan has worked in various engineering management roles within the power industry focusing on all fuel types for major base load plants, including the newer Allam Cycle technology.

Tom McKittrick

Chief Executive Officer / Founder

Tom is the Chief Executive Officer / Founder of Forsite Development, Inc. and manages all aspects of the company’s operations. Tom started Forsite in December 2004 with the idea that there was a significant supply of vacant corporate surplus industrial facilities throughout the Southeast that could be acquired aggressively and then repositioned. Since starting Forsite, Tom has purchased over 7 million SF of space throughout the Carolinas.

Forsite’s most ambitious project to date is “ReVenture Park”, a 667 acre re-development of a shuttered chemical plant, currently listed as a Federal Superfund site into a “Renewable Energy Industrial Park”. The property, located along the shores of the Catawba River in Charlotte, NC has over 1.4 miles of river frontage and is the largest piece of underutilized heavy industrial property in the region. Once complete, this project is projected to create over 1,100 “green collar” jobs and over $900 million in new investment.

Prior to starting Forsite, Tom was a ten year veteran and Senior Vice President of Development for Indianapolis based Lauth Property Group. In July of 2001, Tom moved to Charlotte to open Lauth’s second regional office where he managed all build-to-suit, land development and construction activities that he and his team created in the Southeast.

Tom has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing and Finance from Ball State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Holy Angels (www.holyangelsnc.org).