Clean Energy Trust Announces Erik Birkerts As New CEO

It's the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one here at CET. After starting the organization 6 years ago and presiding over years of impressive growth, Amy Francetic will be stepping down as CEO. After 3 years as EVP, Erik Birkerts now takes the helm.

CHICAGO (December 3, 2015) – The Board of Directors of Clean Energy Trust (CET) announced today that CET Executive Vice President Erik Birkerts has been appointed Chief Executive Officer.  CET’s founding CEO, Amy Francetic, will transition leadership to Birkerts at the end of the year as part of a succession plan designed by Francetic and the Board.

Francetic helped found CET and has built it from the ground up into one of the leading organizations advancing cleantech innovation in the country.  After five years of successful growth in the organization, she has decided to take some time off to explore new business opportunities.  She will remain with CET as a newly appointed member of the Board of Directors.

“Under Amy’s leadership CET has risen to become one of the leading cleantech accelerators in the nation and recognized as the number one regional clean energy accelerator by the US Department of Energy.  Amy has been a terrific CEO, putting CET on the map and making a considerable impact on clean energy commercialization and adoption in the Midwest and across the country,” said CET Co-Chair of the Board Michael Polsky. “While we are sad to see Amy leave the helm at CET, we are looking forward to our next successful chapter building on her leadership.”

“Creating and launching CET has been tremendously gratifying and is the most impactful accomplishment of my career,” Francetic said.  “I’m so proud of what the team has achieved and look forward to supporting their continued success as a member of the Board.  Erik is the best person to lead the organization forward.”

Birkerts has over 25 years of operational and general management experience, including strategy development and project financing for energy efficiency and clean technology companies.  Birkerts was recruited nearly three years ago, joining as CET’s Executive Vice President and the envisioned successor to Francetic.  The two have operated as partners in the growth and development of CET as an organization.  Together with the staff they have:

  • Doubled CET’s operating budget
  • Grown the Clean Energy Trust Challenge with awards now totaling over $1 million from $300K in 2013
  • Deployed over $3.2 million of investment in 29 high-potential clean energy startups
  • Secured multiple federal, state, and foundation grants and the recognition of CET by the US Department of Energy as one of the leading regional clean energy accelerators

“With his deep understanding of CET’s strengths and opportunities, Erik’s appointment ensures continuity in leadership for the future. Erik has strong relationships with CET’s top funders, strategic programming partners and its Board of Directors,” said Nick Pritzker, Co-Chair of the Board.  “With a strong commercial background in startups and cleantech, which includes being on the executive teams of two venture-backed companies during their initial public offerings, Erik understands the challenges CET portfolio companies and other early-stage companies face as they scale their businesses.”

“Amy has been a terrific leader and partner,” said Birkerts. “I am excited for this opportunity to build upon the strong foundation Amy has created and I am grateful for the trust of CET’s Board of Directors.”  

After almost six years of growth, CET is strong and well-positioned for the future. CET has a diversified funding base and support from leading companies and organizations including the US Department of Energy, Wells Fargo, United Airlines, Exelon, Schneider Electric, Nicor, BP, Accenture, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, GE, AEP, True North, University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Argonne National Lab.

“The CET team is excited to continue to work collaboratively with entrepreneurs, corporations and other clean energy stakeholders throughout the country to fuel clean energy innovation and adoption,” said Birkerts.

By Emily Achler | December 3, 2015