CES Spotlight: An Interview with Charlie Agnew

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This month’s CES Insights blog was written by CES’ Managing Director of Energy Services, Charlie Agnew. Charlie’s long and successful history in the energy profession benefits our clients every day. In this interview, he talks a bit about his experience in the industry and with CES – and a bit about his life outside of the workplace.

Tell me how you first got involved in the energy sector?

After graduating from the business school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I spent about two years working on and sailing traditional tall ships up and down the east coast, Caribbean, Florida Keys, and west coast. This was quite an adventure, but I felt the need to ground myself and found a job with a college friend of my father in the wood pellet industry. I grew up with and had parents with farming and forestry backgrounds, and the wood pellet industry at the time was appealing from a sustainability and environmental perspective. Six years later I was introduced to CES at one of the annual seminars held at Dartmouth College, and nine years after that I am here and giving those same presentations to others!

What was your first impression of the field and how has your viewpoint changed over the years? What have you learned?

When I was working in the wood pellet industry, I was always dumbfounded by how much attention was given to the electricity market – there did not seem to be comparable attention being paid to the heating industry that drove a huge portion of our regional energy consumption and cost. When I first started at CES, the dynamics and complexity of the electric market were amazing to me, and since then I have realized how interesting this industry really is as regulated utilities, traditional markets, and public policy collide. So, what have I learned? Only the basic foundation of how things work today, with the excitement of learning what the future will hold 10 years from now.

What has surprised you most about working in this industry?

It is amazing how little the general population knows about the energy industry. In many ways we are sheltered from understanding the nitty gritty details, but also recognizing that the complexity is a bit of a deterrent.  

Why CES? And what do you want people to know about CES?

I enjoy the daily challenge of helping others navigate these complex energy markets and working alongside others that enjoy that as well. I doubt anyone knows where else to find such a concentrated group of energy geeks who enjoy their work.

Tell me about someone who has influenced you and has supported you professionally over the years?

My partner Erin works in the financial industry and provides a range of supporting services around our house including professional. The financial industry is similarly structured to ours and so the advisory services have a lot of crossovers. Erin provides great feedback on content delivery, communication, motivation, and also the management aspects of my work at CES.

How has CES influenced your life and professional trajectory?

Even before COVID I lived at work, and I continue to strive to achieve a work/life balance – all while finding ways to make myself valuable to our clients. I know my colleagues at CES do the same. We highly value both work and personal. As opportunities present themselves, as a team we seek to learn new developments relevant to our industry that may expand our knowledge, while also supporting our clients and finding ways to improve the status quo. This inspires me daily.

What do you do when you’re not working? What are your interests?

Recreation is a huge part of my life and I love being outdoors. One of the first things I do every day is to go outside and get a sense of the weather – I love that. If there is coffee involved, it’s an absolute peak morning. I am eager to play just about any sport or game, but these days I focus on organized ice hockey, squash, some paddle tennis, and golf. I love to hike and take any one of my sets of skis, bikes, boats, or shoes out on the trail. We have been enjoying adding to our “homestead” vegetable and fruit gardens, dog, cat, chickens and hopefully more to come. We have this small farm to take care of along with rental units that we own and manage in the area – always challenging and rewarding.

Photo by Erin McDonald

 

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