Energy Cast Podcast: Focus on Cube Hydro’s repowering work


Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including hydropower, renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

Hydroelectric power is over 130 years old, so what more could be said about it? Apparently a lot.

Cube Hydro Partners was founded in 2015 and owns and operates 19 hydroelectric facilities in the eastern U.S. Its business model is based on getting the most out of this natural energy asset. Most hydroelectric facilities are over 50 years old and in desperate need of upgrades. Cube Hydro, for one, is making that investment.

Hydroelectricity makes up almost half of the industrial-scale renewable energy in this country, yet it does not get the same perks as the “newer kids on the block,” wind and solar. According to our guest, these hydroelectric project repowerings do not get the same regulatory benefits as wind farms, for instance.

That guest would be Dr. Kristina Johnson, co-founder and (former) chief executive officer of Cube Hydro. Before joining Cube Hydro, Dr. Johnson had served as Undersecretary of Energy under President Obama, where she oversaw much of the funds distributed after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Click below to listen to the full episode:

I interviewed Dr. Johnson over the phone but had a chance to meet her and learn more about Cube Hydro’s operations previously, when I was invited to the Centennial celebration of the Narrows Hydroelectric facility in Badin, N.C., about an hour from Charlotte. During the reception, the neighboring High Rock powerhouse was named in honor of Dr. Johnson.

I wanted to discuss new innovations in hydroelectricity, as well as Dr. Johnson’s thoughts on women in STEM fields. Shortly after our interview, Dr. Johnson began her new role as Chancellor of the SUNY system in New York. I asked her about her thoughts on balancing free speech and the “safe spaces” craze that has gripped college campuses, for better or worse. (This podcast originally aired in September 2017.)

Editor’s Note: Ontario Power Generation acquired Cube Hydro in late 2019.

Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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Jay Dauenhauer is a project manager based in Charlotte, NC. He currently serves as a PM developing transmission projects. For the past 7 years, Jay led water treatment and recycling projects for Oil & Gas operations. Jay's first foray in the energy sector was as a media analyst for TXU Energy during the $45B leveraged buyout of that utility in 2007. He then served as Executive Director of the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas, working with stakeholders to pass clean energy legislation for the state. A Louisiana native and proud graduate of LSU, his career began as a TV news producer before transitioning into the energy sector. Back behind the mic, Jay hopes to bring his experience working across several energy sectors to you in a program designed to be accessible to both the public and industry insiders.

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