Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT), is proud to welcome renewable energy project developer, Xiomara (Xio) Gerlach, to the natural resources service line.
With more than 10 years’ experience as a utility-scale renewable energy developer for wind and solar energy projects, Xio brings the energy provider perspective to the natural resources team’s projects. She thoroughly understands the process of developing a renewable energy project, from inception through commercial operation, including planning and design, permitting, community engagement/support, landowner considerations, and construction logistics. Xio also understands the challenges, such as engaging community support, in developing a wind project.
“I have worked as an energy provider and understand their perspective. That experience gives me great insight into how to best approach these projects – and the challenges and opportunities that project managers face. It’s really beneficial for our team, and I think it will be a great asset for our clients,” said Gerlach.
Xio is especially proud of her work on the Heritage Garden Wind Farm in Garden Township of Delta County, Michigan. To date, it is the only utility-scale wind farm in the in the Upper Peninsula.
“While the project initially faced strong opposition, today it enjoys broad community support,” said Xio.
The first phase on the project was completed in 2012. The 28-megawatt (MW) wind farm generates an estimated 70,000 MW of renewable energy annually, which is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power 7,000 average households. The second phase is expected to add an additional 72 MW, for a total of 100 MW of clean, renewable energy. Learn more about the project at the Heritage Sustainable Energy website.
Xio plans to work across service lines and client sectors to develop new renewable energy projects in Michigan and the surrounding states. In addition to helping support ECT’s existing and new energy clients, Xio is looking forward collaborating across service lines to help expand our geographic footprint in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
“There is a shift toward sustainability in Michigan and in the Midwest. This presents a real opportunity to develop projects for larger scale (utility) and smaller scale (distributed) systems, especially in Northern Michigan. Renewables are underutilized in this region; we have an opportunity to expand services with our existing clients and target new clients,” said Gerlach.
Xio is thrilled to join the dynamic natural resources team and appreciates the strong female leadership. She went to a business lunch last summer with ECT President & CEO Bobbi Westerby; Senior Manager (Midwest) Jessica Miller, CERP; and Tonya Lewandowski, EIT, and remembers their infectious enthusiasm for their work.
“It was so obvious – they loved the work and talked about how they were supported and encouraged to be entrepreneurial and take calculated risks. I knew then that I wanted to be part of ECT,” said Gerlach.
“I am very happy that Xio has chosen to join our vibrant natural resources team,” said Jessica Miller. “She brings a wealth of renewable industry knowledge and provides a local Traverse City presence that will support both our existing energy clients and new clients in other growing markets.”
Xio will be based in ECT’s Traverse City, Michigan, office. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography from School of Administration, Finance and Technical Institute University in Medellin, Colombia, and a master’s degree in geography from Michigan State University. Xio also has extensive expertise in land conservation, geospatial analysis, and cartography. In addition to being bilingual in English and Spanish, Xio has excellent interpersonal, networking, and relationship building skills. She enjoys anticipating opportunities and constraints and developing successful strategies to address them.