Employee Spotlight Series: Meet Project Developer Elora Arana

Group of construction workers at a construction site.

At Key Capture Energy, we are fortunate to have a talented team of employees who work hard every day to identify, develop, construct and operate large-scale energy storage projects that play a key role in transitioning us to the grid of tomorrow. Without the hard work and dedication from these individuals, Key Capture Energy would not be the company it is today. Our team is comprised of people from many different backgrounds with a diverse set of qualifications, who all share a passion for what they do. Our Employee Spotlight Series, in which we ask our team members to share their stories and divulge a little, or a lot, about working at Key Capture Energy, allows their colleagues and industry associates to get to know them a little more personally.

This week we’re featuring Project Developer Elora Arana, who joined Key Capture Energy earlier this year. Read on!

What are your typical job duties and responsibilities at Key Capture Energy?

As a Project Developer, I have my hands in a little bit of everything at KCE. Project Developers are responsible for identifying, managing, and advancing our utility-scale energy storage projects from conceptualization and greenfield status to construction handoff.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

I most enjoy the local outreach and community engagement aspects of my job. I am extremely passionate about energy, especially renewable energy, and I thoroughly enjoy talking to people about it, especially when I can clarify or demystify topics that tend to be misunderstood. I look forward to informing the community, including landowners, local officials, and community leaders, about KCE and our goals for building energy storage solutions while also expanding renewable energy to create a more stable electric grid.

How did you first learn about Key Capture Energy?

I first learned of KCE through a friend, fellow mentee, and now colleague, Emma Johnson, who I met through a Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) Peer Mentoring group. During one of our monthly peer mentoring calls, Emma presented to the group on battery storage technologies, explained her role at KCE, and gave an incredible, comprehensive synopsis of the energy storage industry. I was immediately intrigued, and my interest only grew after we veered off and started brainstorming how traditional battery storage assets could merge with other types of energy-generating technologies that could maximize the impacts of what companies like KCE are doing in the industry.

Has anything surprised you about working for Key Capture Energy?

How inclusive and welcoming everyone has been, even throughout the interview process. I felt like a part of the team before I was even officially a part of the team!

How does your position at Key Capture Energy differ from other roles you’ve held previously?

Prior to joining KCE, I was an Environmental Scientist focused on environmental regulatory compliance and management systems for a large Fortune 500 Oil & Gas company. While there, I managed environmental programs and permits for various types of hydrocarbon & petroleum processing facilities throughout Louisiana and NJ. My current role at KCE is more focused on strategic business growth and project development, as opposed to working as a support function to the operations and commercial sides of a business. At KCE, I have the opportunity to provide direct input on our company’s overall strategy, goals and vision and have enjoyed the increased flexibility with regard to work-life balance, corporate culture, projects, etc. that KCE has to offer. Every day I feel empowered to think outside the box and challenge the status quo.

What are your thoughts on the energy transition in Houston specifically?

As a native Houstonian who grew up around energy in some way, shape or fashion throughout my entire life, I am so excited for the future of energy in the Energy Capital of the world! I am optimistic seeing the industry titans that have historically held large footprints here in Houston embracing the changing energy landscape and am glad to see the companies that are embracing the energy transition establishing roots in Houston (instead of moving their businesses to other regions that were seemingly more “open” to such changes previously, such as Colorado, Boston and the Bay Area). I believe one of the major causes for the transition in Houston is due to younger generations, namely millennials like myself, becoming increasingly unwilling to settle for the future that was being set up for us by previous generations. Many have left “Big Oil” because the industry was not committed enough to making the changes needed in the energy landscape to ensure a cleaner and greener future for all.

Before joining KCE, I was in the midstream, downstream (refining), and petrochemical hydrocarbon industry. I was far enough removed, however, that I was able to foster a greater interest in the bigger picture and more forward-thinking opportunities in energy. I think for a long time, most of the major energy players based in Houston or with large corporate footprints here were very hesitant to acknowledge the positive economic, environmental, social and cultural opportunities that alternative and clean energy sources could offer our overall energy portfolio. I am so happy to have seen a notable shift in this mentality and am excited for what’s to come!

How do you envision Key Capture Energy growing and evolving over the next couple of years, especially given the recently announced SK E&S acquisition?”

The most successful working teams and business units have diversity of thought from a variety of backgrounds and qualifications, and encourage input and collaboration from team members of different generations, genders, geographic locations, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, education levels, and job experience. I am excited about the possibility of growing our workforce with input and resources from SK E&S. Partnering with SK E&S, an established global leader in the evolving energy transition landscape, will help KCE attract and retain the most talented and diverse individuals while maintaining the friendly and collaborative company culture we are proud of.

I’m also excited about gaining access to resources that will allow KCE to grow its sustainability, environmental, social & governance (ESG), and community outreach initiatives. One of the qualities that attracted me to KCE was that the company strives to be a leader in the industry while also remaining a steward of the natural environment and a fierce supporter of the communities which our team members live, work and operate in. By partnering with SK E&S, KCE will be able to join SK’s culture of Sustainability ManagementSocial Contribution and Ethical Business – areas that have always been of great importance to the KCE culture and our employees. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and evolve as an industry-leading and community-minded company.

What are your hopes for the storage industry?

I’m looking forward to seeing more partnerships between energy storage projects and renewable energy development projects. The best way for the energy storage industry to help foster more renewables on the market is to partner with utility-scale solar and wind projects to help with intermittency and demand variability issues, which are some of the biggest obstacles for these clean energy sources currently. I’m also hoping to see more and more partnerships like the one between KCE and Talen Energy, where we will be installing a battery storage project adjacent to Talen’s H.A. Wagner coal plant in Maryland, which is set to retire in 2025. There are so many benefits to repurposing existing infrastructure to support the transition to clean energy and it’s exciting to see new solutions like these.

Fun Facts about Elora:

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I really enjoy volunteering and giving back to my community. I volunteer on a multitude of committees and boards of organizations across Houston, but the three that I am most involved with are the:

  • Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR): I am a two-time HLSR scholarship recipient, have been a volunteer committeewoman on the Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Garden and Scholarship Judging committees for 6 seasons, and was recently appointed as a Captain on the newly created Scholarship Alumni Committee.

Outside of work and philanthropy, I enjoy traveling, but less for the relaxation (which I don’t know how to do anyway) and more for the opportunity to learn about new places.  Along with that, I really enjoy Caribbean and Latin culture. I grew up in that community and always feel at home with the food and music.

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Safari in South Africa

Any hidden talents?

I am fluent in Spanish and also love dancing – bachata, merengue, salsa, cumbia, country, two-steppin’, line dancing…I enjoy ‘em all!

Any pets?

A 17-month-old Rex rabbit named Phantom!

Thanks, Elora, for all that you do for Key Capture Energy! Check back again soon for when we profile another talented team member.

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