When Ryan Van Portfliet graduated from Loyola University Chicago, he had one goal: To figure out where he could make the most impact. With a degree in Environmental Science and Chemistry paired with an MBA, this goal led him to Invenergy. Based in Chicago, Invenergy is a global privately-held developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. Ryan joined the team five and a half years ago, and is proud to be contributing to Invenergy’s growth and success.
Success is a dynamic driver for Invenergy. On one hand, success is measured in the goal of building a sustainable world, which is what Invenergy is all about. Invenergy works tirelessly toward the goals of taking carbon off the grid and re-electrifying the US.
Yet on the other hand, social good in the form of giving back to client communities is another important measure of success. When Invenergy comes into rural communities to build multi-million dollar projects, Ryan explains that Invenergy is “able to reinvest into schools or roads that don’t see a lot of tax dollars.”
Both measures of success make Invenergy one of the leading innovators in sustainable energy solutions.
Global on Behalf of Local
Invenergy builds, owns, and operates clean energy and advanced storage projects across the globe. The projects can take anywhere from 4 to 15+ years, from development to construction to operation, depending on a number of factors. Since its start almost twenty years ago, Invenergy has successfully developed 184 projects, totaling more than 29,000 megawatts across four continents.
When Ryan joined Invenergy, the organization was primarily focused on wind. As the cost of solar went down and solar technology advanced rapidly, Invenergy began to position itself in Ohio and the mid-Atlantic area as solar opportunities began to blossom. They created a new solar portfolio, and Ryan was hired to find where potential solar projects could be developed in Ohio and the mid-Atlantic region.
At that time, Invenergy had less than 10 solar projects underway. Currently, they have 47 solar projects in development in the US. “Seeing the project numbers grow by ten times and having a part in that growth is absolutely crazy and exciting,” Ryan shares.
He also thinks about local impact and the major investments and benefits solar has brought to communities across the country. Ryan outlines Invenergy projects benefit landowners in the following quote: “Supportive communities and engaged landowners are the foundation of Invenergy’s renewable energy projects. Our projects provide jobs, additional tax revenues, landowner payments, and other sources of local economic development. By hosting solar projects, local farmers are able to have an additional revenue stream. Their partnership is very important, and it brings me joy to work with our landowners who feel good about contributing to a clean energy future while also being able to support themselves and the local agricultural economy.”
Ryan was a part of Loyola’s first graduating class in the Institute of Sustainable Energy. The holistic education of the institute gave him great exposure to different aspects of environmental science. After an injury, he stayed on a fifth year to run track and field and earn his MBA. Ryan’s journey then led him to Invenergy right out of college, where he currently works as manager of renewable development.
Ryan is at the front end of Invenergy’s projects, working on them from conception up until construction. “My favorite part of my job is wearing different hats,” Ryan explains. One day he can find himself walking around with a landowner discussing a negotiation for building on their property; the next he can find himself in the state house working with a legislator; and the next he can be in Ohio working to sell green energy as partnerships. “I find myself in unique situations and learning lots of new things every day.”
He also brings prior knowledge into the process. “This industry is driven by making sure these things are economic,” Ryan explains, “and because I have a good understanding from my MBA, that skill pointed me towards Invenergy.” Reinvesting into rural communities that don’t see a lot of tax dollars requires this economic understanding. Ryan works with state tax levies and independent partnerships to give back to the communities they build on.
Developing in Ohio
Currently, Ryan is heading Invenergy’s Ohio portfolio, which includes five exciting projects. One is located in Southeastern Ohio, which has been permitted to transition land that was previously used to produce coal into producing renewable energy. The other four are in various stages of development, located in Hardin County, Union County, Clinton County, and Franklin County.
Franklin County is the site of the proposed Pleasant Prairie Solar Energy Center. Targeted to begin operating in 2023, the Center has been designed to generate up to 250 megawatts (MW). Ryan explained that the Center is located in Franklin County due to the voices of the people. The success of Columbus Ballot Initiative 1 confirmed that Central Ohioans wanted to aggregate green energy. “There is no better spot [to pursue the Center] than in the place where people who have voted for green energy… it’s the best place to meet that demand,” Ryan shares.
Invenergy agreed on a PILOT (Payment In Leu of Taxes) rate of $900,000 per megawatt for the Pleasant Prairie Solar Energy Center. This rate means that every year, they will be paying $2,250,000 thousand dollars. The money will be going into the local community. Additionally, PILOT is making sure 80% of the labor for the project is Ohio labor, giving back to Ohio in the additional form of green jobs.
Growing into the Future
Growth has always been at the forefront of Invenergy. Starting off in natural gas, Invenergy saw the need and opportunity to expand into first wind, then solar. Global outreach later became Invenergy’s main target area for growth. They had incredible success with global outreach: Invenergy has projects across four continents and regional development offices in North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Now, Invenergy is looking toward storage and transmission as their next stage of growth.
Storage and transmission mean finding ways to capture the wind and solar power that is generated, storing it for later use, and transporting it to areas of demand and need. There is opportunity to take abundant wind and solar resources and carry those resources to provide electricity to millions of Americans.
Clearly Invenergy lives up to its core values of sustainability and social good. With growing opportunities across Ohio and across the world, Invenergy is taking a large step toward building a sustainable world.