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Sustainable Nation

The Sustainable Nation Podcast delivers interviews with global leaders in sustainability and regenerative development three times a week. Our goal is to provide sustainability professionals, business leaders, academics and anyone interested in joining the sustainability revolution, with information and insights from the world's most inspiring change-makers.

Jun 9, 2020

Rob Threlkeld is Global Manager of Sustainable Energy, Supply and Reliability for General Motors, leading the company’s energy procurement efforts including the commitment to meet the electricity needs of its global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Threlkeld is responsible for leading the team that supports GM energy procurement and regulatory efforts including negotiating power purchase agreements, natural gas, green tariffs and engineering onsite renewable solutions for GM facilities across the globe, including opportunities associated with battery storage, behind-the-meter applications and EV integration.

Threlkeld is a board member of the Renewable Energy Buyer’s Association. He is also involved in the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association, two energy groups advancing the use of these renewable forms of energy. He serves as industry advisor to the School of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. He is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers, the Engineering Society of Detroit and the Solar Power International Education Council. Energy Manager Today has recognized Threlkeld as one of 50 top energy managers for driving GM and the energy management industry forward.

Threlkeld began his career at GM in 2000 as a manager of powerhouse and wastewater treatment plant operations. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Purdue University. He is a registered Certified Hazardous Material Manager, Certified Energy Manager and Business Energy Professional.

Rob joins Sustainable Nation to discuss:

  • Setting 100% renewable energy goal and developing a four prong strategy - energy efficiency, sourcing renewables, zero emissions, and policy and scale - to work towards it
  • Partnering with utilities to advance renewable energy procurement and green tariffs
  • Importance of joining and engaging with trade organizations - SEIA, REBA, AWEA
  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Rob's Final Five Questions Responses:

1. What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

My one advice is, I call it, you know, the three P's. You have the people, planet, profit. Profit is the passion, perseverance and pragmatic view that you need to have. It's really that passion to drive the industry is a huge proponent or huge reason why I do what I do today. You got to have passion in order to really work both internally as well as externally communicate the efforts that we're doing as a company and as an individual.

2. What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability, renewable energy, whatever it might be?

It's a continued scale. I mean, you've seen the transformation of the industry over the past 10 years, the price declines, but it's also the ability to integrate battery storage into addressing the intermittency of the renewables. So that really is what's going to allow the scaling of renewables beyond to what it is today.

3. What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?

Ooh, that's a good one. I have read so many books. Let me come back to that one.

4. What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work? Could be anything from websites, associations, technology, or software programs.

Yeah, it really comes down to, I think REBA and I use a lot of news organizations, just keeping up with the various thread of what's happening on a day to day basis. You know, what's the next transformational change that's occurred? One of the things I read today was a French utility is actually looking at battery storage to forego having to do transmission upgrades, which can be both timely and take amounts of time to do as well as costly and thinking about addressing transmission congestion that renewables bring to the grid. So I think it's that readily accessible information that you can get from the internet itself and then thinking about how does that holistically impact what we're trying to do as a company and in the industry from a scaling standpoint.

5. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at GM?

You can go to to be able to look at all GM's sustainability efforts. There's some good components that you can see what GM is doing and the efforts of renewables on there as well. You can also go to my LinkedIn site. You can kind of get some of the latest information on the things that I'm looking at and working and doing as well. As I said, you can go to the internet and there's some good information of tidbits that we've put out there as a company. We've got GM's blueprint for renewables that you can find that kind of summarizes our holistic strategy towards our renewable procurement efforts and our scaling efforts. That would be a great places to go to find some information about myself as well as GM.

About Sustridge

Sustridge is a sustainability consulting firm providing consulting in sustainability strategy development, sustainability reporting, GHG emissions calculating and management, zero waste planning and guidance in a TRUE Zero Waste, B Corp, LEED and Carbon Neutral certification.