At AC Power, we pride ourselves in having a team of individuals with diverse passions and rich lived experiences. We see this as a unique strength that positions us well to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and deftly adapt to the ever-evolving energy transition.
In these pages, we will regularly be highlighting the people who make up our team so you can better know us as we strive to reenergize communities, one brownfield at a time. This week, we're talking to AC Power founder and CEO Annika Colston.
What inspired you to start AC Power? What drew you to the renewable energy space?
The inspiration in starting AC Power was a deep-seated intuition—a strong belief that I could carve my own path, in a growing sector, bringing exciting and different projects to market. I had developed renewable energy projects long enough that I could no longer ignore my desire to establish a business according to my unique vision.
I was always drawn to the environmental field, specifically project development. Since high school I knew it would be what I built my career in. I saw, and still see, the field of renewable energy as a very actionable sector with tangible results.
I love the idea that I could develop a bunch of renewable energy projects and actually see the number of megawatts that we were putting into the grid that was, hopefully, going to reduce the number of fossil fuel projects that were needed. That seemed like something more easily achievable than solving population growth or world hunger.
I love data and tangible “wins,” so the idea of setting out to do something, completing a bunch of tasks in the project development process, and then seeing the fruits of your labor being a functioning project that is creating kilowatt hours is hugely satisfying and motivating.
What does AC Power's motto, "Repurposing for a Brighter Future," mean to you in your work?
The motto represents the amazing opportunity for the new beginnings that we are making possible for the sites we work with.
It’s an underdog story for sites that, if left as is, would have been a drain of resources and an economic burden. By repurposing them for solar we are bringing long-term positive changes to the site.
What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field of solar energy development?
Since it is a very multifaceted sector, really try to get a clear view on what part of it excites you the most and then pursue that. That may mean trying a lot of different things along the way – you could find that you like the policy part, or the more technical aspects – but identifying that and building your skills around it will be a great foundation.
It can be an incredibly difficult and unpredictable sector so I would say finding the thing that you're most passionate about and using that passion will help make the ride more enjoyable.
I would also recommend finding a mentor, somebody in the market that is doing what you're doing, and try to learn and understand more from them. I think people are quite open to sharing their experiences.
If you weren’t working in solar energy development, what would be your dream job?
If I was not in solar development, I would own a plant store that sells coffee and babysits puppies. Isn't that everyone's dream job?
What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy week?
These days I like to get my head clear at the end of the day. You know, it's busy with so many thoughts and projects and ideas and opportunities bouncing around all week that I love to do something that slows my brain down and clears my mind. So maybe it’s yoga or a cold plunge or some breath work, or maybe it’s something with the family, a nice, easy movie for all of us to watch.
What’s a fun fact about you that most people at AC Power might not know?
Let’s try this one: When I was in high school, I wanted to work at the sporting goods store so that I could get a discount on ski clothes. I got the job and instead of putting me in the ski clothes department – I was 16 by the way – they put me in the gun department. And they had me write up gun sales in California, writing up their information for permitting records, and I sold a gun to MC Hammer. This was in the late 80s and he was quite famous at the time. And if you don’t know who he is you should look up hammer time, or his pants.