In this series, three dynamic, female AESP Members share their journeys in the energy industry and get their insights and advice to other women wishing to succeed in the energy industry.
Kathy Greely, Chief Executive Officer, Performance Development Systems (PSD)
Throughout her thirty-year career, Kathy Greely has worked in many sectors of the energy efficiency field, from research at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to her current work designing and implementing efficiency programs for utilities since 2007. As Sr. Vice President of Program Services for PSD, Greely led a team developing an award-winning Home Performance with ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR New Homes program and was active in the design, management, and implementation of efficiency programs across the Northeast and Midwest.
Greely has supported many industry organizations during her tenure and most recently completed her term as Board President for the Energy Efficiency Alliance. She holds a master’s degree in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Mathematics from La Salle University.
AESP: Can you please describe your career journey in the energy industry?
In 1969, eight-year-old me sat glued to the tv, watching Apollo 11 land on the moon. I was captivated…and wanted to become an astronaut. By college, this led to a major in physics, where a “Science, Technology & Society” class proved to be a similar aha! moment, that led to a graduate degree in Energy & Resources at UC Berkeley, and diving into energy efficiency research at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. My career took some winding turns, with a few years focused more on parenting; a family move to Virginia led to introducing blower doors to the Virginia weatherization program; a subsequent move to northwestern Pennsylvania led to founding a community energy program born at Allegheny College, which subsequently became part of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s work. I started with Performance Systems Development (PSD) in 2007, as a program manager for “PA Home Energy”, which developed the statewide energy efficiency workforce, and laid the groundwork for the Act 129 utility programs that were mandated a few years later. 2022 marks my 15th year with PSD; as the recently named CEO, I now oversee the work of our programs, software, and engineering services divisions.
AESP: What single piece of advice would you give to women early in their careers in order to be successful in this industry?
The efficiency industry has broadened greatly, and the workforce is much more diverse than the “tech geeks with Birkenstocks” (before they were cool) that dominated the early days. I appreciate the fact that there are actually lines for the women’s restrooms at conferences now! My advice is: take every opportunity to broaden your skill sets and sharpen your expertise. You never know what new challenges you’ll come to love, that might take your career path in new, and unexpected, directions.
AESP: Looking forward, what do you foresee as the biggest hurdle or challenge facing our industry? How do you recommend we overcome this hurdle?
Developing the efficiency workforce is undoubtedly our biggest challenge, exacerbated by the expansion in demand driven by IIJA, the IRA, and decarbonization policies across the country. Similar to the climate crisis, there is not a “silver bullet” solution, but a toolkit of policies needed, ranging from technical schools to apprenticeship programs to continuing education and mentorship opportunities. One of my favorite aspects of our industry is that it’s full of people who care, and want their work to make a difference. The outpouring of young people fired up about the climate crisis have a natural future in the efficiency industry; it’s our job to show them how they can contribute.
AESP: What fun fact about you can you share so we can get to know you a little better?
I’ve been to 25 countries; COVID has put a crimp in my travels and I can’t wait to get back out there!