Smart Energy Voices - Episode 20

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 20

The Growing Importance of Renewable Energy Partnerships with Nathan Nissen and Greg Rizzo

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We all know that strong partnerships are essential if we are going to succeed in collaborating to accomplish a zero-carbon future. That’s because companies and organizations that work together in business relationships have more opportunities to increase efficiency in joint projects and partner to source from renewable energy sources.

This conversation features two of the players in just such a partnership. John speaks with Nathan Nissen, Principal Engineer, Sustainability at Kohler Company, and Greg Rizzo, Director of Origination at Enel Green Power.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • How Kohler Co. and Enel Green Power are moving toward a zero-carbon future [1:19]
  • The impact COVID-19 has had on the sustainability goals of each company [7:10]
  • Why Kohler reached out to Enel Green Power in the first place [10:47]
  • Key components of a renewable energy supply partnership [14:55]

A heartfelt commitment to sustainability has to fuel organizational efforts

No company is able to push through the many barriers and obstacles that hinder progress on the way to a zero-carbon future without a heartfelt and organization-wide commitment to the goal at hand. In this conversation, you hear a detailed explanation of why the leadership team at Kohler was so committed to a renewable energy transition and the benefits they expected it to bring. But you’ll also hear how they recognized their own limitations in getting to that future.

As a result, the company sent representatives to a Smart Energy Decisions event in hopes of learning more about the options available to them to meet their renewable energy goals and, at the same time, do it within budget constraints. This conversation highlights the partnership they established with Enel Green Power and how it has enabled the company to be well on its way to meeting its renewable energy goals.

The need for scale motivated a partnership that proved invaluable

The electricity needs of a factory combined with the capital expenditures required to get to a 100% renewable energy infrastructure forced the team at Kohler to find other options. The Kohler team discovered a variety of options were available at a Smart Energy Decisions event and as a result, reached out to Enel Green Power to establish a VPPA (Virtual Power Purchase Agreement) that solved the problems Kohler was facing.

Enel Green Power proved to be the ideal partner because the organization provided a diverse pipeline of solutions for Kohler to choose from which enabled them to be flexible and responsive to meet their needs.

Key components of a good renewable energy partnership

From the Kohler side of this partnership, it was important to find a partner that had a high level of expertise - someone who understands the nuances of such a complex transaction but also has the capability to find the right energy sources, negotiate land and use contracts, and can be innovative and aggressive to find a win-win solution.

From the energy provider side of the equation, Enel Green Power brought the expertise to educate the buyer as needed (Kohler in this case) and provide guidance in navigating the complex structure of a VPPA. Enel was looking for partners who were willing to get involved in the project, on-site, from the early days. This is because they view it as a long-term relationship that needs cooperative effort on both parts. 

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Connect with Nathan Nissen and Greg Rizzo

Nathan Nissen was on the team that developed the first Kohler Co. sustainability strategy in 2007 and has led footprint reporting activities and coordinated footprint reduction activities since then. Nathan previously worked in an environmental leadership role with Kohler’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department since 1989.

While working in EHS, Nathan’s career evolved through hazardous waste management and elimination, emergency response planning, environmental management systems, and industrial waste recycling. Nathan has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is an amateur beekeeper and a licensed Professional Engineer.

Greg Rizzo is a Director of Origination within Enel Green Power North America’s Commercial Office. Since joining Enel Green Power in 2012, Greg has held many different roles focused on supporting Enel Green Power’s commercial strategies. Previous responsibilities included managing existing customer relationships post-PPA execution and developing risk management strategies for the company’s REC and power positions.

As Enel Green Power began to establish itself as a leader in the North American renewable industry, Greg transitioned to an Origination role supporting the company’s vision for growth. In this role, Greg, together with his team, focuses on establishing partnerships with utility and corporate customers to deliver customized sustainable energy solutions. These partnerships are critical in supporting Enel Green Power’s aggressive global growth target of adding more than 14 GW of newly built renewable projects over the next three years.


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