Miles Braxton

Expanding Access to the Clean Energy Sector

Miles Braxton can still recall his first conversation with fellow Financing and Deploying Clean Energy certificate participant Sara Kane ’07 MEM/MBA — then a managing director at the insurance brokerage firm Beecher Carlson — in the spring of 2020.  “When Sara told me she worked in renewable energy insurance, I laughed at the response, claiming that I had no idea insurance existed in the industry,” Braxton says. “Only two years after that moment, I found myself managing the largest renewable insurance portfolio in the U.S.”

Summit Ridge Energy/BlackOak Collective

United States

At the time, Braxton was a business development analyst for Washington, D.C.-based solar finance and development firm Sol Systems. He had enrolled in the FDCE certificate program to get some formal training in clean energy project finance, with the goal of eventually transitioning to a role at an asset management or investment firm that owned or acquired renewable energy projects. And, after two more years with Sol and that prophetic conversation with Kane, Braxton joined Goldman Sachs Renewable Power Group (now MN8 Energy), the largest commercial- and industrial-scale solar asset owner in the country, as a rotational analyst. There, he managed GSRP’s insurance and its Environmental, Health, and Safety program, which encompassed over 880 projects in 27 states. That experience led him to his current role as director of risk management at Summit Ridge Energy, one of the largest owner-operators of community solar assets in the U.S.

“I enrolled in FDCE primarily for the project finance module. Learning how to do a sensitivity analysis within a financial model was mind-blowing at the time, and a tool I still use today,” he says. “I also learned a lot about how battery energy storage systems add resiliency to the grid through pairing with renewable energy projects. This prepared me well for my role with GSRP when I needed to communicate to insurers my team’s familiarity with the technology and how we planned to mitigate associated risk factors.”

Braxton credits his FDCE network — particularly his connection to Kane, now co-leader of the Power & Renewables department at CAC Specialty — as being instrumental in his transition to risk management. “Having the ability to call Sara with a question any time, no matter how simple, as an unbiased professional resource and a trusted friend was one of the biggest reasons for my success,” he says.

While enrolled in the FDCE program, Braxton also co-founded BlackOak Collective with colleagues in the clean energy sector Kiera Givens, Sarah Nesbit, and Wes Gobar ’24 MEM. Originally launched as a Washington, D.C.-area networking group for Black professionals, students, and advocates within the sustainability space, BlackOak has become a national organization through partnerships with leading companies and nonprofits looking to diversify their applicant pools. It recently introduced its Green Gateways program to build the pipeline of Black students into sustainability positions through presentations at colleges, universities, and HBCUs.

When asked what is most exciting about the clean energy sector right now, Braxton unhesitatingly points to the possibility of those who have been denied access beginning to seem some benefit. “For years, clean energy has been most accessible to the upper-middle and upper classes, in turn, providing them with the ample associated economic benefits,” he says. “The Inflation Reduction Act includes allocation for renewable project development and economic support in rural and lower-to-moderate income communities. It will not only propel community solar development, but also make solar more assessable for low-to-moderate income communities, addressing a long-time environmental justice issue.”

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