On August 30, 2023, we lost Kacie Peters, a radiant veteran of the solar industry, to her courageous and public three- and half-year battle with colon cancer. This article is a tribute to her enduring spirit, remarkable achievements and the impact she had. It is also a call for readers to never give up the good fight.
Kacie Peters was a woman of many facets, described as vivacious, inspiring, resilient, hilarious, intelligent, thoughtful, creative and so much more. Yet at her core, Kacie was a master networker and powerful connector. She inspired countless individuals to join the solar industry as employees, customers and industry partners. Her work amplified a cause our world so desperately needs.
In the realm of solar energy, Kacie was a true luminary — a collaborator, a market-maker, a champion for diversity and a thought leader. Her professional journey included companies such as SunEdison, Alta Energy, and most recently, Pivot Energy. She also served on the boards of organizations like Colorado Solar and Storage Association and Illinois Solar Education Association. Her dedication and impact extended far beyond her professional commitments.
“Kacie Peters embodied the power of unwavering determination, connecting hearts and minds to the cause of clean energy. Her legacy is a reminder that our actions today can shape a brighter, cleaner future for all. Let’s honor her by carrying forward the torch of change she lit so brilliantly.” -Melanie Kelly, VP of marketing at Pivot Energy
Kacie excelled at driving conversations. Whether in the media, on a stage at an industry conference, or over a beer with colleagues, she found joy in collaborating with others to solve big problems. She demonstrated these qualities both officially and as a volunteer. Her leadership positions in regional SEIA advocacy chapters in Illinois and Colorado enabled her to organize conferences with nearly 1,000 attendees and create new funding streams through membership development and additional events. This, in turn, allowed these organizations to shape state markets.
She was a champion for diversity, helping to create Women in Solar Energy, organizing NationWISE, the largest ever multi-city discussion aimed at empowering women. Kacie served five terms on the core team responsible for organizing the Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) flagship Leadership Forum event, twice serving as chair – both times following her cancer diagnosis. She did this all while releasing videos and presentations about networking and mentoring up-and-coming professionals in the industry.
“Kacie was a phenomenal leader in so many ways, but what really drew people in addition to her witty humor was her willingness to show up honestly with all of the layers of her identity. She regularly used any platform she had access to and talked openly about challenges whether going to job interviews pregnant, equity in the solar energy industry, or terminal illness and access to healthcare. She told her own story with a deep authenticity, a connection to advocacy, and a fierce love for her family, her community, and a vision of a better future. I will be forever thankful for my time with her and for the way she brought people together and changed the way we are all able to show up for the work with a sense of wholeness.” -Kristen Graf, former executive director of WRISE
In recognition of her tremendous impact on women in the renewable energy industry, Kacie posthumously received the WRISE Lifetime Achievement Award. To carry Kacie’s legacy into the future, the annual Lifetime Impact Award was created to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the clean energy sector. It embodies the values and dedication that Kacie exemplified throughout her incredible career.
Kacie was not just a thought leader. She was a trailblazer, publishing white papers, think pieces, and contributing as a guest to leading podcasts in publications including Solar Power World, PV Magazine, and The Interchange Podcast. She created the largest solar industry monthly networking event in Colorado, Solardarity, which spread to Chicago in 2023.
“Kacie was courageous, and as funny as always, after she received her cancer diagnosis and as she underwent surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials. And after her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer as well, Kacie became the primary caregiver and financial support for him and her son while still battling her own illness. Rather than keeping all of this hidden, she spoke openly about her experience and advocated for recognition and support for chronically ill and disabled employees. In other words, she did not let her illness stop her from doing what she did best– trying to make the world a better place.” -Meghan Nutting, EVP of government and regulatory affairs at Sunnova and dear friend to Kacie
Beyond her many accomplishments in renewable energy, Kacie had an immeasurable impact that reached beyond the renewable industry. Despite the immense challenges she faced and the pain she endured, Kacie shared her health struggles openly on networking platforms like LinkedIn. She cast a vital light on the issue of long-term illness in the workplace and advocated for companies to treat their workers with dignity.
When Kacie wasn’t working or networking or educating, Kacie was a loving mother to 6-year-old Nate and wife to her husband Erik. Erik himself is currently fighting stage 4 colon cancer.
All of Kacie’s innumerable endeavors in the solar industry were rooted in the pursuit of a better future. In her final post on social media, Kacie made a request to her many connections:
“…the future is in your hands. Here is what I wish you do with that power:
- Make renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure as catchy as “natural gas.” End the culture war against wind and solar. Let’s normalize reusing resources and innovating on what we have.
- By the time my son is 50, the air should be cleaner than it was when my mom hit that milestone.
- Let’s work on bringing the cost of living in line with reasonable benefits and wages – whether that be through the help of AI or other innovations – so that every person can take the personal time they deserve when making big life changes. I want everyone to feel the job security and support that I’ve had through this time.
…I’m hoping my time here has connected enough of you to make these doable.”
Kacie’s unwavering optimism and hope were remarkable. Even in the face of a crippling disease that she and her husband battled while raising their son, and while the urgency of climate action grew, Kacie pushed forward with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. Her spirit was contagious, and now, the hundreds of people she connected are harmonizing together in a chorus of hope.
As we honor Kacie, we’re reflecting on the passion she brought to shepherding those around us to have a greener, cleaner future. We ask ourselves, and you, what can we do to continue Kacie’s legacy?