John Ragan is the Chief Executive Officer of Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC and a member of the Board of Directors of Cogentrix Power Holdings, LLC. Mr. Ragan joined Cogentrix in 2017, with a long career in the energy sector, with over three decades of leadership experience.
After starting his career with Getty Oil Co.’s (now Chevron) upstream exploration and production division in 1983, Mr. Ragan moved to the power industry in 1996, joining Mirant Corporation. His roles with Mirant included Chief Commercial Officer for North America and Chief Executive Officer, International Group. He then joined FPL Energy (now NextEra Energy Resources) as Vice President of Business Management for the northeast region, later becoming a Vice President of Trading, Transmission and Operations.
Mr. Ragan joined NRG in 2006, where he held several positions overseeing diverse regional fleets of power plants, commercial activities and NRG’s carbon capture business. He has also served as NRG’s Chief Operating Officer and President of NRG’s Northeast and Gulf Coast regions. Mr. Ragan left NRG in 2016 to join NextEra Energy, where he held a senior leadership position overseeing NextEra’s U.S.-based oil and gas operations and midstream natural gas pipeline activities.
Mr. Ragan has served as Chairman of the Board for the Houston Food Bank, the largest food bank in the U.S., and on the board of the Energy Institute of the University of Texas at Austin. He has also served as chairman of the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company and was a board member of Perigrine Midstream Partners, an industry leader in high-deliverability, multi-cycle natural gas storage. He is a four-time recipient of Who’s Who in Energy in Houston.
Mr. Ragan earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees from West Virginia University and an MBA in finance from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.
Bill Felts currently serves as Executive Vice President – Portfolio Management for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. In this role, he is responsible for all development and M&A activities for the company. These activities include the determination of strategic direction for growth for the company, identification of targeted industries and market sectors supporting growth objectives and leadership and direction of new development initiatives. Over the course of his career Mr. Felts has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility in both the investor-owned utility and independent power industries.
During his tenure at Cogentrix, Mr. Felts has served as Senior Vice President – Development, Vice President – Asset Management and Vice President – Development. Prior to joining Cogentrix in 1999, he held various positions at Indeck (an independent power producer) and Commonwealth Edison Company (an investor-owned utility), including Power Plant Engineer, Thermal Design Engineer, Manager – Business Development, Vice President – Finance, Senior Vice President – Finance and Senior Vice President – Development. During his tenure at Indeck, he also was one of the co-founders of the Indeck North American Power Fund, a $135 million equity fund with a charter to acquire power projects in the U.S. market.
Mr. Felts received his BS in Mechanical Engineering and MS in Mechanical Engineering Thermal Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mr. Felts has over 29 years of experience in the electric power generation industry.
Rob Howard serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC.
Mr. Howard joined Cogentrix in 2016, following three years with The Carlyle Group, Cogentrix’ owner. Mr. Howard was a Principal at Carlyle, where he led the underwriting and management of investments in power generation assets.
In total, Mr. Howard holds 15 years of energy finance experience. Prior to Carlyle, Mr. Howard was a Vice President with ArcLight Capital Partners, where he supported investments in power generation and midstream assets. Prior to ArcLight, Mr. Howard was an investment banker with Lehman Brothers.
Mike Wennen currently serves as Executive Vice President – Generation Services for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC (“Cogentrix”). In this role he is responsible for the departments within Cogentrix that directly support the Cogentrix-operated power plants including operations, engineering, procurement, Cogentrix Field Services, EHS, and NERC compliance. The operations department includes providing technical support to all the facilities operated by Cogentrix.
In 2014, Mr. Wennen rejoined Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. as Vice President of Operations. In this capacity, he was responsible for conducting asset due diligence, generating operation and maintenance cost projections for prospective facilities, and providing management support for the power generation fleet operated by Cogentrix.
Prior to 2014, Mr. Wennen spent more than seven years conducting Independent Engineering reviews for Leidos Engineering (aka R. W. Beck and SAIC). As the Vice President of Thermal Plant Services, his duties included analysis of power generation, oil and gas, and process technologies, managing and/or providing Owner Engineer services, reviewing operations and maintenance of power generation facilities, conducting technical reviews of the latest gas turbine technologies, as well as supervising a department consisting of 18 mechanical, electrical, chemical, and civil engineers.
Previous to joining R. W. Beck, Mr. Wennen held various positions at Wisconsin Power & Light (an investor-owned utility), Westinghouse Operating Services Company (a third-party power plant operator), and Cogentrix, including Production Engineer, Power Plant Engineer, Plant Engineer, Operations and Maintenance Manager, and Plant Manager.
Mr. Wennen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Dakota. Mr. Wennen has been in the electric power generation industry since 1986.
John Gasbarro is Senior Vice President – Mergers and Acquisitions for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. In this capacity he is responsible for leading Cogentrix due diligence functional discipline teams of potential acquisitions. He is also responsible for implementation and integration or divestiture of transactional activities associated with the sale, purchase and divestiture of new or existing assets. He serves on the Management Committee at Cogentrix. Prior to this position, Mr. Gasbarro was responsible for Fuels and Asset Management where he had responsibility for commercial and operations management of Cogentrix’s assets.
Mr. Gasbarro joined Cogentrix in November of 2004 and has over 42 years of construction, design engineering, operations and maintenance experience in the energy industry including nuclear and fossil generation as well as the petrochemical industry. Prior to joining Cogentrix, Mr. Gasbarro had his own consulting practice, providing third party engineering, operational and business management support to the executive management of electric utilities. He has also been employed by a consulting firm who provided executive management consulting services to nuclear and fossil utilities and as a direct and contracted employee for various utilities. Mr. Gasbarro was directly employed by Duke Power and Carolina Power & Light.
Mr. Gasbarro earned his Bachelors of Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Olaf Honerkamp is Vice President and Head of Risk at Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. He is responsible for Risk Management at the company and its business units. Mr. Honerkamp is a member of the Management Committee. He joined Cogentrix in January 2017 following the acquisition of Essential Power Services, LLC by Carlyle Power Partners.
Prior to Essential Power Services, LLC, Mr. Honerkamp spent four years at Barclays Investment Bank in New York as Director and Head of Commodities Market Risk in the Americas. Barclays had a top tier Commodities business with exposure to Crude & Refined Products, European Power & Gas, U.S. Power & Gas, Base Metals, Precious Metals, Agriculture Products, Shipping, and Coal & Emissions. From 2004 to 2008, Mr. Honerkamp covered the U.S. Power and Gas business at UBS Investment Bank in Connecticut. He was promoted to Global Head of Commodities Market Risk in 2008. He spent one year at Scotiabank, starting in 2009, to help expand their Commodities platform in the U.S. after UBS had sold their U.S. Power and Gas business to the Canadian bank.
Mr. Honerkamp started his career in 1996 as a quantitative researcher at a subsidiary of the Southern Company in Atlanta. Shortly after going public, Mirant was the second largest non-regulated Energy Trading and Marketing Company in the U.S. Mr. Honerkamp was quickly promoted from Analyst to Senior Analyst and then Director of Research. In 2001, Mr. Honerkamp changed roles and became Director of Market and Model Risk. He stayed at the firm until 2004.
Mr. Honerkamp holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA and a Vordiplom in Economics from the University of Osnabrück in Germany.
Linda Okowita currently serves as Senior Vice President – Human Resources for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. In this role, she has overall accountability for all aspects of Human Resources across the corporation. These include, but are not limited to, Strategic HR Planning, Benefits & Compensation, Mergers/ Acquisition/ Divestitures, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Leadership Development, Staffing as well as oversight of the company Payroll function. Ms. Okowita also serves on the Management Committee. Over the course of her career she has held positions of increasing responsibility, servicing global Fortune 500 corporations and supporting and working with their Senior Leadership Teams, and employees, across the globe.
Prior to joining Cogentrix in 2004, Ms. Okowita worked with Nortel Networks Corporation, a leading supplier of telecommunications equipment with (at the time) approx. 30,000 employees worldwide. Working in both Canada and the U.S., she supported a number of critical business functions over the course of her career, including providing Human Resources support to the Senior Global Mergers & Acquisitions Team and providing HR advice and counsel to key business leaders, and their employees, across the North American, European and Latin American Regions.
Ms. Okowita earned a B.A. in Labor Studies (Human Resources Management) from McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada and has attended ongoing Leadership Training including an Executive Strategic HR Training Program in Hong Kong.
In addition to her professional and community service activities, Ms. Okowita is currently an active member of the E4 Carolinas Workforce Development Task Force and holds the position of Chair, for the E4 Carolinas State of the Art Energy HR Professionals Working Group. She is also a member of the Society for Human Resources Managers (SHRM) and serves on the Board of Directors for the Independent Energy Human Resources Association. She is also co-founder of a Charlotte based Senior HR Professional Network.
Jacob Pollack is Senior Vice President – General Counsel and Secretary of Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. In this position Mr. Pollack serves as chief legal officer and a member of the Cogentrix management committee and investment committee, providing advice and counsel to company management on a wide range of legal, regulatory, and compliance matters while overseeing the environmental, health and safety department and the delivery of legal services to the company and its business units.
Mr. Pollack joined Cogentrix in October 2006 and served as Assistant General Counsel before becoming General Counsel in May 2014. For the seven years preceding his arrival at Cogentrix, Mr. Pollack served as an associate attorney in the corporate department of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, in Stroock’s New York City office, where he was actively involved in Stroock’s energy and project finance group.
Mr. Pollack received his BSE in Civil Engineering and Operations Research in 1996 from Princeton University and his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in 1999.
Mr. Pollack is a member of the New York State Bar Association and North Carolina State Bar Association.
Ernie Schism currently serves as Vice President Information Technology for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. In this role, he is responsible for the overall leadership of the Cogentrix IT organization including strategic vision, people, systems, data, processes, budgets, business continuity and security. He has oversight of all ERP and CMMS systems, NERC CIP systems, market/trading systems, voice/data communications, data centers, networks, and information security for the corporate offices in Charlotte and Princeton, a Centralized Operations Center in San Diego and all power generating assets located throughout the continental US. He serves on the Management Committee at Cogentrix.
Since joining Cogentrix in 2005, Mr. Schism has served as Manager IT Infrastructure, Director IT Infrastructure and Director IT Operations where he has overseen the company’s IT integration and divestiture activities and has led initiatives to deploy virtual technologies, enhance IT security postures and improve systems uptime and stability. Prior to joining Cogentrix in 2005, Mr. Schism held IT management positions with Daimler-Chrysler, NewWave Communications, and TransUnion.
Mr. Schism received his degree in Electronics Engineering in 1988 and over the course of his 28-year career in the Information Technology field, he has continued to stay current with emerging technologies by attaining a broad variety of professional certifications including: ISC2 CISSP, Microsoft MCP, MCSE and MCT, Cisco CCNA and CCNP, and VMWare VCP. Mr. Schism is also a member of the Society for Information Management, Charlotte Region Chapter.
Jason Solimini currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for Cogentrix Energy Power Management, LLC. Mr. Solimini is responsible for all of the finance, accounting, financial reporting, consolidations and control, treasury, tax and financial planning and analysis functions. He joined Cogentrix in 2016 following the acquisition of Essential Power by Carlyle Power Partners and the integration of Essential Power Services into Cogentrix.
Prior to joining Cogentrix, Mr. Solimini served as Chief Financial Officer of Essential Power, a wholesale power generation company engaged in the ownership, operation, and commercial management of over 1,700 MW of natural gas fired and hydro generating facilities in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States.
Mr. Solimini joined Essential Power in August 2008 and managed the implementation of the Finance, Accounting and Settlements functions, supported multiple refinancing efforts, piloted the budget and three year plan development process, and in addition to leading the finance team, he provided oversight for the entrprise risk control and supply chain functions as well.
Prior to joining Essential Power, from 2005 to 2008, Mr. Solimini served as Controller for LS Power Development, LLC, an independent power producer and developer which operated independent power generation facilities across the United States. Prior to that, he worked for 14 years at New Jersey Resources Corporation (NJRC), an energy services holding company that provided retail and wholesale energy services to over 475,000 customers in the northeast region of the United States. At NJRC Mr. Solimini held various roles of increasing responsibility over the 14 year period, including the position of Controller from 1995-2005.
Mr. Solimini holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration in Finance, both from the W. Paul Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University.
The management of Cogentrix believes that the strength and competitive positioning of an organization is highly correlated to the quality, timeliness and consistency of the decision making in the organization.
Within the firm, Cogentrix has adopted a matrix approach to decision making and the allocation of responsibilities associated with each project, both operating and developmental. A project lead is assigned overall deal responsibility, and a team of multi-functional experts, typically including members of the firm’s engineering, asset management, operations, legal and finance departments, are selected as team members.
For broader, more strategically oriented issues and decisions, the management committee is typically involved and decisions are reached with input from all sources of relevant expertise within the Company. The Company has found that this approach minimizes the barriers and maximizes the collective incentives to achieve the targeted outcomes for each project and transaction.
At the senior-most management level, the open communications and inclusion of the entire management committee in material decisions shaping the future of the Company and the nature of opportunities pursued is among the reasons Cogentrix has consistently delivered above-market returns.