Leadership Shakeup at Leading US Solar Developer Cypress Creek Renewables

Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the largest utility-scale solar
developers in the U.S., on Monday
announced
it will replace its CEO and several other executives
as it looks to recover from recent headwinds that led to
substantial layoffs earlier this year. 

Sarah Slusser, managing director at Point Reyes Energy Partners,
has replaced Matthew McGovern as CEO and board director. Kim Oster
and Rebecca Cranna have joined as chief strategy officer and chief
operating officer on an interim basis.

Slusser, Oster and Cranna all come from Point Reyes Energy
Partners, a solar advisory and development company, and worked
together previously at independent generator AES Corp.

Another former AES executive, Ned Hall, will replace co-founder
Ben Van De Bunt as Cypress Creek’s board chair.

In January, GTM
exclusively reported
that California-based Cypress Creek had
issued layoffs impacting roughly 20 percent of its workforce. 

The privately owned company has vaulted to the top of the U.S.
utility-scale solar rankings since its founding in 2014, but has
been forced to cope with state policy changes tied to the Public
Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in several states,
including its largest market in North Carolina. Those challenges
revolved around regulations for compensation and sizing of PURPA
projects, which many states have mulled changing as the solar
market matured. 

Cypress Creek has also pointed to difficulties stemming from the
Section 201 tariffs on U.S. solar equipment imports.

“There’s a need at this stage in Cypress Creek’s
development to have an executive team that has the depth of
experience in the power sector that Kim, Becky and I all bring. If
we weren’t on the phone, you’d see gray hair,” Slusser told
Greentech Media in an interview.

“We will focus on a more disciplined approach to development,
one that’s focused really keenly on value creation. And we will
also build off of the talent of Cypress Creek and a lot of the
innovation that’s taken place … but with a focus on
sustainable, long-term growth.” 

Just ahead of its January layoffs, Cypress Creek
unloaded
580 megawatts in projects. At the time of the layoffs,
the company confirmed to GTM that it had engaged with Barclays to
explore potentially offloading other pieces of its operating
portfolio. Asked about the progress of a possible portfolio sale on
Monday, the company said it does not comment on ongoing
transactions. 

Cypress Creek deployed 686 megawatts of solar in the U.S. last
year, and has deployed 3.7 gigawatts to date, the company says. It
was the second largest utility-scale solar developer in the U.S. in
2018, trailing only 174 Power Global, according to Wood Mackenzie
Power & Renewables.

In 2018 Cypress Creek secured a $200 million preferred equity
investment from Singapore-based investor
Temasek
.

In a January interview about the layoffs, then-CEO McGovern said
the company would focus on its “core value creation centers” in
development, EPC and project finance. Slusser said the new team
will “be taking a hard look at everything” to make sure the
company focuses on its businesses with the most potential for value
creation.

McGovern also told GTM early this year that Cypress Creek would
refocus on geographies where it sees the most potential for value.
Slusser noted Monday that the company will “continue the strong
tradition of bringing projects online … across many
geographies.” 

“We expect to build off that development pipeline and really
focus the strategy on the most value created projects,” said
Slusser.

She added that the company plans to work in competitive markets
in addition to the regulated markets, such as North Carolina, where
it’s mostly engaged in the past. The company tested that approach
with a recent Starbucks
deal
in Texas.  

In addition to showing a new tack for the company, the
leadership changes also shift the gender balance in Cypress Creek’s
upper ranks. Before today, the company’s senior management was
almost entirely men, a
widespread
reality in the solar industry.

Source: FS – Transport 2
Leadership Shakeup at Leading US Solar Developer Cypress Creek Renewables



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