Senior Program Manager - Renewable Energy Program

Great Plains Institute
Organization Summary

Great Plains Institute’s Vision and Working Culture

The mission of Great Plains Institute (GPI) is to transform the energy system to benefit people, the economy, and the environment. With a 20+-year track record, GPI has become one of the premier energy institutions in the country, implementing the most promising energy policies, technologies, and practices. Increasing demand for GPI’s expertise and collaborative, nonpartisan approach has driven rapid growth, roughly tripling GPI’s size in the last five years to an annual operating budget of $6.5 million. Indeed, GPI’s footprint is national in scope. The organization retains a core competency in the vast Midcontinent (area of the central US from Canada through Texas). GPI is powered by more than 30 professionals in MN, IL, ND, and NY, with an increasing presence in Washington DC; and is rated in top 15% nationally by Charity Navigator, the largest NGO evaluator in the country.

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Posting Date
Closing Date
Location in MN
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Primary Duties


The urgent need to equitably decarbonize our energy system and economy is at the core of this position.  The Great Plains Institute seeks an ambitious and experienced individual with knowledge of and experience with local and regional governments to manage local renewable energy and climate action programs that implement the most ambitious and equitable climate goals of communities, institutions, utilities, and states.    

Responsibilities:  The successful candidate will manage a wide variety of technical assistance, facilitation, and research projects, and provide support and management for local and regional climate and renewable energy market transformation efforts.  The candidate will work primarily as part of the Renewable Energy team but will collaborate and support efforts across other GPI initiatives in the Communities, Electricity, Transportation, and Research Teams, including the following tasks: 

  1. Manage regional (multi-state) technical assistance programs and projects for local government and state agencies:


Manage regional and national initiatives working with local governments in multiple states to achieve climate and renewable energy outcomes. GPI participates in multiple initiatives including SolSmart and the Sustainable States Network.  Tasks may include managing outreach efforts, recruitment, tracking progress of multiple cities across a wide geography, develop implementation priorities for individual cities, and providing or arranging for technical assistance on zoning, permitting financing, and program design.


Develop best practice and technical guidance documents or models to assist local and regional governments in meeting renewable energy and climate action goals.  GPI researches and develops new best practices and disseminates to local, state, and industry audiences.


Oversee and help design research initiatives on technical issues that need to be resolved to meet deployment goals.  GPI conducts both internal research and collaborates with national laboratories and academia to resolve technical information gaps to enable decarbonization action. 


Provide overall project support, including writing summary and progress reports, tracking invoicing, manage contracts, and participate in team meetings. 



Facilitate stakeholder groups on renewable energy and climate action:


Take responsibility for designing, administering, and facilitating stakeholder meetings for renewable energy projects and programs.  GPI administers a number of stakeholder engagement efforts designed to resolve barriers for renewable energy, electric vehicle, decarbonized building electrification deployment.


Conduct community and stakeholder engagement for local energy and climate plans and implementation efforts.  GPI works with both individual communities and cohorts of communities to help create local vectors for meeting the climate crisis.


Guide stakeholders to address equity issues in renewable energy and climate action. GPI is committed to ensuring an equitable energy transition and recognizing and correcting for historic exclusions in decision making and program design.


Be comfortable with managing the logistical details of stakeholder engagement processes that ensure broad and equitable participation. 



Work in depth with local governments on climate action planning and implementation efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase clean energy opportunities. 


Working with project teams of GPI and outside organizations, provide direct assistance to local governments on technical details of climate implementation.  Topics include land use planning and regulation, transportation, natural resource or eco-system service integration, and capital improvements.


Assist with market transformation efforts for new or burgeoning technologies; electric vehicles, micro-grids, energy storage, industrial decarbonization, and similar technologies. 



Respond to funding opportunities, write proposals.


Work with the program team and fundraising staff on identifying new funding opportunities.  GPI encourages an entrepreneurial mindset consistent, with its mission, on developing new projects and initiatives. 


Take the lead on responding to requests for proposals for local, state, or federal requests for proposals.


Work with philanthropic funders to identify new opportunities for decarbonizing our economy.



Conduct analytic and social research


Conduct appropriate quantitative or social analyses that support project goals and support informed decision making.  GPI provides technical analysis to support projects, including geospatial analyses, literature searches of technical work, modeling, surveys, regulatory assessments, economic analysis, and social research. 


Design and lead research initiatives in conjunction with program team members and research department staff. 




Education and Experience: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s preferred, in urban planning, natural resource management, energy planning, or agriculture. At least 10 years of hands-on experience working with or for local government and state agencies that work with local governments.


Expertise on local government processes: Established knowledge of and experience with local or regional government processes; development review, zoning, land use planning, permitting, environmental review, fiscal analysis.  Topic areas include land use, natural systems, transportation, public works. 


Climate or Renewable Energy Project Leadership: Demonstrated experience in planning, leading, and managing renewable energy or climate action projects. Experience with community-scale or large-scale solar development is preferred, but not required. 


Equity, Diversity, Inclusion:  Demonstrated commitment to equitable outcomes and increasing diversity and inclusion in project work and organizationally, and direct experience with implementing DEI initiatives.    


Technical experience: Technical capabilities such as geospatial (GIS) analysis, economic assessment and modeling, natural resource systems and management, programming, or agricultural systems,


Communications: Skilled in written and oral communications across a variety of audiences that may hold a variety of ideological positions.  Ability to convey complex ideas through brief, simple materials. Experience and credibility when presenting materials to external audiences.


Collaboration: Effective at working with others both within GPI and partner organizations, agencies, and institutions to reach common goals and objectives.  Skilled at establishing and cultivating strong relationships with peers, across different levels of the organization and externally. 


Desktop computer and/or laptop, copier, fax machine, calculator, printer, telephone 


Requires working at a desk (either sitting or standing) for extended periods. Extensive use of devices (e.g., keyboard, mouse), as well as usage of telephone/headset. May require lifting of boxes up to 20 pounds on occasion. 

How to Apply

Complete the application process by following this link. Please upload your one-page cover letter and your resume where indicated. This position will remain open until filled.

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