Former and current Advanced Energy staff members gather at the Making Energy Work conference. Included in this photo are current NCSEA staff members and Advanced Energy alumni Karen Gardner, Arlene Brown, Ward Lenz, and Kristi Matthews.
North Carolina’s energy community, along with many others across the nation, are mourning the loss of a titan in the industry, Dr. Bob Koger. For decades, Dr. Koger has served as an influential leader in North Carolina’s energy ecosystem dating back to his days with the Rural Electrification Administration, followed by years of service with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) as a staff person, commissioner, and chairman of the commission. It was in these various roles with the NCUC that Dr. Koger recognized the challenges associated with ever-increasing energy costs, and the need to invest more heavily in energy efficiency and renewables. That insight led to the recommendation that the commission issue an order exploring the idea of creating a non-profit dedicated specifically to growing the energy efficiency and renewables market, which quickly led to the support of then Governor Jim Hunt. Given the widespread support for the creation of such an organization, the commission founded what was then known as the Alternative Energy Corporation in 1980. Since the founding, Dr. Koger’s leadership within the organization has led to the creation of the NC GreenPower program, and growth to more than 50 staff members dedicated to the advancement and innovation of the energy market in North Carolina. Outside of his role with the Alternative Energy Corporation, or what’s now known as Advanced Energy, Dr. Koger was also a pioneer in facilitating collaboration amongst universities, utilities, and government agencies, which led to the creation of the National Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI).
Over the years, Advanced Energy has been a close ally of the NC Sustainable Energy Association, advancing the clean energy market through innovative programs and market education and awareness. NCSEA has been proud to support and promote Dr. Koger’s legacy through our partnership with the NC GreenPower program and other efforts to advance electric transportation within the state. Advanced Energy shared more on Dr. Koger’s career and contributions to the state of North Carolina, via a blog post announcing his retirement from the organization, which can be found here.
Dr. Koger also had a significant impact on many individual staff members at NCSEA playing a formative role in their own professional development, either through previous time working at Advanced Energy or through other professional connections.
Below are a few reflections from NCSEA staff members on Dr. Koger’s impact in their own careers:
Ward Lenz: “Dr. Koger took a chance on a kid from another state and gave me a great opportunity and support to thrive. Much of my work and networks are because of him and his capacity for sharing knowledge and coordination. He was always available for guidance and advice to me and to others and had an amazing ability to open doors and get agreements with diverse groups. While his professional work included the creation of Advanced Energy, NC GreenPower, and ASERTTI, it was his demeanor, knowledge ,and compassion that made him stand out. His legacy extends far beyond his own work and into the lives and careers of so many people in North Carolina.”
Arlene Brown: “Dr. Koger was such a kind and thoughtful leader. He always made sure his team members felt welcomed and appreciated for their contributions. He took a personal interest in the life and development of everyone he interacted with. In my time spent working with Dr. Koger, I always felt valued and respected and even admired as part of the near generation in clean energy. I am so grateful for his legacy.”
Kristi Matthews: “Dr. Koger hired me into the energy efficiency space in 2001. If it wasn’t for him, I may not be where I am today. I am so thankful for his innovation and persistence to get Advanced Energy up and running and I am thankful for all the difference he made in the lives of the Advanced Energy employees. He encouraged innovation and pushing our knowledge out into the rest of the country. He made North Carolina into a national leader in energy efficiency.”
Rita L. Joyner, PhD: “Gentle giant. Warm smile. Words of encouragement. Reminded me of My Daddy. It was not by coincidence that I was on Centennial Campus this past Tuesday morning and thoughts of my dear friend Dr. Bob Koger rang through my walk on the campus he so loved. I salute his family for sharing him with us, the countless numbers of us who will always remember him fondly and carry a bit of his spirit to share with others. Rest well ... “
Karen Gardner: “Dr. Koger made a profound impact on my career in clean energy. I first came to Advanced Energy with no industry experience, and he welcomed me and invested the time to educate and mentor me. He once told me “you don’t have to start with passion for clean energy; it will develop over time as you are learning and integrating it into your life and work”. After 15 years in the field, I’ve realized this couldn’t have been more true! Dr. Koger was a kind, compassionate, and innovative leader, and I will forever be grateful for the years we worked together.”