Chaberton Energy : Navigating the Energy Transition Responsibly

Declan JenningsKierron RoseEd Budds
Declan Jennings - Project Manager Kierron Rose - Project Manager Ed Budds - Editor
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Highlights
  • Chaberton Energy is focused on developing sustainable infrastructure and renewable projects to enable the transition to clean energy, reduce pollution, and provide economic benefits to residents and businesses.
  • In January 2024, Chaberton reached 100 solar energy sites under contract in less than four years and now boasts a pipeline of 1.5 gigawatts in active opportunities.
  • Chaberton’s priorities for the next year are to continue to grow its pipeline, while simultaneously getting new projects over the finish line.
  • “As a fast-growing and relatively new solar developer, we have been so pleased to watch our project portfolio and team grow,” says Erica Brinker, Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer, Chaberton Energy.

Rooted in its values of creativity, excellence, and humanity, Chaberton Energy is dedicated to creating sustainable, renewable energy solutions. We discuss navigating the energy transition while remaining socially responsible with Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer, Erica Brinker.

With the ever-increasing concerns over climate change, the energy transition has become a major area of emphasis for policymakers, businesses, and world leaders. As a result, the renewable energy industry has grown and become more critical to global infrastructure than ever.

In light of this evolving landscape, Chaberton Energy (Chaberton) has been on the front lines of numerous trends sweeping the US energy industry.   

There has never been more interest in and demand for community and commercial solar power, which has contributed to the incredible growth that Chaberton has witnessed in the last four years since its inception in 2020. 

Headquartered in Maryland, the employee-owned public benefit corporation is focused on developing sustainable infrastructure and renewable projects to enable the transition to clean energy, reduce pollution, and provide economic benefits to residents and businesses.  

“Our work ranges from site conception to full operations, emphasizing distributed energy, community solar, and commercial and industrial initiatives,” says Erica Brinker, Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer at Chaberton. 

“We are primarily a community and commercial solar project developer. We work with companies looking to deploy solar on their property to save money and meet their sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. On the landowner side, we enable consumers to generate revenue for their property while supporting their fellow neighbors. Locally generated energy helps both the landowner and the surrounding community save money on their utility bills and often helps support low to moderate-income families,” she shares. 

In January 2024, Chaberton reached an important milestone of 100 solar energy sites under contract in less than four years and now boasts a pipeline of 1.5 gigawatts (GW) in active opportunities.  

Today, the company is present in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, and several other states across the US, as well as Italy. 

Chaberton works in harmony with the communities where the company deploys its projects and is proud of its approach, which deeply values the people who make these projects possible, including employees, landowners, neighbors, customers, and partners.  

Companies with ESG or sustainability goals are looking for ways to decarbonize, and Chaberton is on hand to help them meet their targets. 

However, meeting targets isn’t always as easy as it might seem. There are many obstacles to making solar happen, including the challenges associated with building out the utility grid and interconnection to the electrical infrastructure.  

“The issues we see with interconnection threaten to delay the energy transition due to the complexity of the work required to make these projects happen. Chaberton thrives on the complications associated with the work, and we have developed skills to manage the headwinds that often pop up during project development. While we would ultimately like to see the interconnection processes become more streamlined and simplified, these challenges have also resulted in our development of a community impact team that works side-by-side with the local leaders and residents to drive projects to the finish line that are cost-effective and in line with community priorities.”  

“In our business, it is important that we partner with utility companies to find the best solutions to bring projects online in the most efficient way,” Brinker sets out.  

Chaberton thrives at systematically addressing complicated challenges and partnering with stakeholders to solve problems together.   

“I got my start in the solar industry on the utility-scale side, where you can practically develop projects anywhere in the world. In joining Chaberton, what surprised me the most is that every state and utility has its own unique requirements. In about half of the states, there aren’t even community solar programs yet, which leaves a lot of room for opportunity. For the states that do have policy and regulation, the programs are as different as the states they are in,” she explains.   

Counties and municipalities can also have an impact on whether community solar is possible, as it requires developers like Chaberton to quickly become experts in the ways to do business in any given location.  

Furthermore, this makes the lead time to project completion long and fraught with complication.  

“My hope for the industry is that we find ways to make interconnection to the utility grid easier so we can bring more solar to markets quicker.”

PROUDLY SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is something that Chaberton takes extremely seriously. The company firmly believes that the way it does business and how it thinks about its impact is integral to everything it does.  

“If you look at our portfolio of projects, virtually all of them feature pollinator habitats, which help restore bee and bird populations and increase the biodiversity of surrounding farms. For our business-to-business customers, we help them to decarbonize by deploying solar in their own operations,” Brinker tells us. 

Chaberton’s thoughtful approach to projects extends to engaging with community members, policymakers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the company is meaningfully addressing their concerns.  

“We work to understand community priorities so that projects create value. This extends to our Chaberton Cares program, where we provide direct benefits to the communities we serve by funding local non-profit organizations. For every megawatt (MW) of new community solar capacity we develop, the program provides $5,000 in funding for local organizations,” Brinker states. 

Elsewhere, even in its project design capabilities, Chaberton endeavors to make meaningful improvements to the way the industry thinks about deploying renewable energy to the grid. This is where the company’s in-house engineering experts drive major impact to solar projects. 

“With the same amount of land, we are able to design projects with up to 20 percent more productivity. We have a world-class engineering team that optimizes projects using proprietary software; this maximizes project returns and enhances environmental benefits.”

“As a fast-growing and relatively new solar developer, we have been so pleased to watch our project portfolio and team grow”

Erica Brinker, Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer, Chaberton Energy

FUTURE PRIORITIES

Chaberton’s priorities for the next year are to continue to grow its pipeline, while simultaneously getting new projects over the finish line.

“We expect to continue our growth in both the community and commercial sides of our business. As solar has become more recognized as a viable energy solution, we will continue to expand, whether through new markets or new capabilities. We are always thinking of ways to diversify what we do,” Brinker tells us. 

“As a fast-growing and relatively new solar developer, we have been so pleased to watch our project portfolio and team grow. Our team of Chabertonians are second to none in this industry. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our team of experts who are passionate about creating more opportunities for generating clean energy,” she says. 

Another priority for the company is to continue to push for favorable policies for business-to-business commercial development and community solar.  

State policies are critical to the success of community solar, with the likes of Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Illinois adopting favorable policies that can help it grow. As such, many of these policies incorporate requirements that projects are built in low and moderate-income communities.   

More broadly, as Chaberton continues to work to curb greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, it must also think about what the clean energy transition means for society at large. Evidently, producing clean energy equitably in a socially responsible way is essential to the success of the energy transition.   

“Chaberton is growing at a rapid pace, and it often feels as though we are building the plane as we are flying it. In this highly entrepreneurial environment, I get to be creative in problem solving, wear many hats, and develop an incredible team to drive to our goals. The role here feels like the perfect confluence of being purpose driven, meaningful, and challenging,” Brinker concludes.  

“The future is bright for solar and the broader renewable energy sector, and I am so proud to be a part of it.”

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By Declan Jennings Project Manager
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Declan Jennings is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Declan is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Declan is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Declan to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Kierron Rose Project Manager
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Kierron Rose is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Kierron is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Kierron is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Kierron to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Ed Budds Editor
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Ed Budds is an in-house writer for North America Outlook Magazine, where he is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.