Seeing the Bigger Picture: Rochelle Pancoast, Director, Wind Operations
Rochelle Pancoast has accomplished a compelling series of “sustainability firsts” during her more than 14 years at TransAlta. After earning a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Calgary, she began working in the Sustainability Department (SD) where her role quickly moved into business analysis and deal evaluation and execution.
“I was purchasing greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets at the time and my responsibility was to ensure that the tracking and terms supporting these investments were compliant in the midst of emerging rules and, at the same time, could deliver true environmental benefits,” she says.
During her tenure in SD, Pancoast evaluated more than 250 potential GHG projects and potential deals and spearheaded innovations in the development of market derivatives, working collaboratively with GHG brokerage houses and a variety of government organizations. One of her most notable ‘firsts’ was the conception, development and negotiation of the first-ever trans-Atlantic GHG transaction and the first-ever GHG collar transaction (A collar is a purchasing strategy used to reduce risk).
Working ahead of the GHG curve meant that Pancoast and her team were continually improvising and transforming business tools for things that didn’t yet exist. “It’s very satisfying to look back and see that most of the contractual and commercial arrangements we developed stood both the test of time and the many policy changes that have since occurred,” she says. ‘In those days, we were attempting to contractually define the absence of a future emission without knowing the future rules – offsets weren’t yet a commonly understood concept so we were even educating lawyers along the way. Scenario analysis was key for risk mitigation.’
In addition to deal making, Pancoast’s involvement in leading edge GHG offset development led to speaking engagements at emissions trading conferences and workshops in Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Buenos Aires, Argentina and throughout North America.
A valuable insight Pancoast gained from her time in SD, and one she continues to apply in her current role as Director of TransAlta’s Wind Assets, is the ability to look at things from a wider lens. “My exposure to the emerging GHG market gave me a perspective on the bigger picture and about finding the optimal response that works, for all stakeholders involved in an issue,” she explains.
She continues, “It’s clear that the right path forward for companies embracing sustainable development is one where there is a solid connection between their principles and the work they do. Being able to work collaboratively across impacted stakeholders to find ‘win win’ solutions, whether it is for effective policy creation, to land a sustainable commercial contract, or to simply allow for ongoing operations, is fundamental to long-term progress.”
- 2013 Report on Sustainability