Pine Gate is a fully-integrated utility-scale solar company and a leader in the strategic development, financing, construction and long-term operational management of renewable energy projects in the United States. We are leading the way in the ongoing energy transition, creating a commercial solution that drives growth and innovation in the market.
Who We Are
Our mission is to 'get solar done' by providing renewable energy for local communities across the country. By partnering with local communities, we drive economic growth, create jobs and make a positive impact on the environment.
Our work in the community is just as much a part of our company as our solar projects. We contribute to multiple non-profit organizations dedicated to helping the people and places in need, and we have corporate partnerships with The GivePower Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, Asheville GreenWorks and Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy. Read more about the impact we’re making.
We’re proud to have been named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in 2021, awarded the gold medal in the energy category for Inc.’s Best in Business 2020 list and ranked #6 on Inc. 500’s list of “Fastest Growing Energy Companies” in 2018.
“I decided to work in solar to make a difference and build something that matters. Between the complexity of the problems we’re solving and the impact of what we're trying to do, it never gets boring.”
Ben Catt is the driving force at Pine Gate Renewables, a leader in the solar industry and innovator in the movement for clean energy solutions.
As CEO for one of the fastest-growing energy companies in the U.S., Ben sets the strategic vision for establishing locally-generated solar energy projects, and oversees development, government relations, operations, finance, construction, legal affairs and more than 140 employees.
Before following his passion for environmental preservation, he worked in the banking and finance industry. At Pine Gate he’s been able to blend financial savvy with his desire to make a difference, closing more than $2B in financing for solar energy projects and partnerships.
Ben aspires to infuse the corporate culture with the mantra that Pine Gate’s continued success is predicated on cutting-edge market strategy, an independent execution platform, pipeline scope and scale – and on always treating everyone, from clients to employees to partners, with kindness and respect.
Ben is a frequent speaker for national and regional panels on solar energy, particularly on issues of strategy, development and finance. He is a board member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and a CFA charter holder.
“I love that I work for a company that is changing the energy landscape. We are making a positive impact on the planet by challenging the old ways of energy generation and creating a sustainable resource that benefits people and the environment.”
James Luster founded Pine Gate Renewables in 2014 and serves as Chief Operating Officer. Seeing the potential in this young and still-developing industry, he was driven to work in solar energy to contribute to creating new, clean ways of powering the world.
James started the company with the goal of finding the best land for solar development, where a farm could harmoniously blend with its surroundings, help local communities via tax generation and connect to the grid in an affordable and reliable manner.
He maintains the day-to-day operations of the business by directing the employee experience via human resources, and leads information and technology, communications and marketing as well as project site acquisition services. He is passionate about inspiring the culture of creativity, collaboration and hard work at the company, that is made up of people who are on a collective mission to “get solar done.”
“It’s my personal mission to make Pine Gate Renewables a great place to work as well as a company that has a clear mission, vision and purpose,” James says. “I’m constantly impressed by the talented folks we’ve been able to bring on to the team, and the hard work and grit exhibited by them on a daily basis is what powers Pine Gate. In addition to supporting their growth within the company, I’m also focused on finding the best methods, systems, technology and processes that allow our teams to perform and work efficiently.”
Before founding Pine Gate Renewables, James worked in healthcare administration, managing healthcare service organizations including home health services and senior living communities.
“The solar energy field is like the wild west. The industry has evolved so rapidly in less than a decade, with new entrants and new ideas constantly changing the competitive landscape. As a result, the industry really rewards new ideas and creativity, rather than longevity or tenure in the space.”
Ray Shem is the CFO at Pine Gate Renewables, where he is responsible for all capital raising efforts at the solar project level and companywide, managing corporate financial risk and reporting on the company’s financial condition.
Prior to joining Pine Gate Renewables in 2017, Ray was the CFO of FLS Energy, an NC-based solar developer and EPC contractor. Before entering the renewable energy industry, Ray spent six years at regional real estate developer Grubb Properties leading multifamily acquisitions and real estate investments.
Once Ray transitioned from real estate to solar energy, he never looked back and is constantly inspired by his colleagues. “First, our people are an amazing combination of high achieving and low ego,” he says. “We like to win but prefer to win as a team. Second, we participate in multiple parts of the value chain such as development, finance and construction, so we are constantly applying lessons learned from one area of the business to another. Finally, we really value our external relationships and are focused on consistently being a good partner to our counterparties, which hopefully makes them want to do more business with us.”
Chief Construction Officer
“Being on the forefront of the renewable infrastructure boom is exciting. Building projects and finding ways to lower costs and increase production are a passion of mine.”
Chris Dunbar oversees project construction, strategic supplier relationships and operating asset performance. His department is responsible for 3,000MW of solar projects across the country.
Since joining Pine Gate in 2018, Chris is proud of the company’s ability to find finance and construction solutions for even the most complicated projects. His duties include developing agreements with contractors; material and vendor procurement; and developing strategy to ensure that budget, safety and schedule goals are met.
“From a cost perspective, to be advantageous over fossil fuels, our solar projects have to be constructed in a way that delivers the best output and are cost effective for the energy buyer,” he says. “I get to wake up every day and solve that problem.”
Previously he served as the VP of operations at FLS Energy where he oversaw the completion of more than 400MW of solar assets. In his 7 years there, he was a member of the management team that led the company from $2MM of revenue to over $300MM.
Prior to working in the solar industry, he served in the U.S. Army 844th Engineering Battalion deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. He was also a project manager in the steel industry.
“Pine Gate has a unique blend of experience, talent and creativity. Coupled with key capital and development relationships, it allows us to manage a project pipeline that is significantly larger than our competitors.”
As the General Counsel for Pine Gate Renewables, James Ortega is responsible for managing the in-house legal department and supporting the company’s corporate, finance, development and M&A activities. James has negotiated tax equity and debt financing transactions for the construction of utility-scale solar power projects equaling almost 1 GW of renewable energy.
Prior to joining Pine Gate in 2016, he was the Assistant General Counsel for Strata Solar, where he negotiated tax equity and debt financing for utility-scale solar projects. Prior to entering the solar space, he worked in commercial real estate law.
As part of Pine Gate, he’s committed to the fast-paced, dynamic and evolving solar industry with ample opportunities for legal practitioners to provide impact.
“There is no existing playbook to draw on, therefore creative, solution-oriented problem solving is critical in this industry,” he says. “I am both inspired and challenged by the work we do every day.”
James is a member and former Chair of the board of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.
Pine Gate is a recognized leader in the field of solar development with a demonstrated ability to execute on successful projects. In working closely with them on multiple financings, we have first-hand knowledge of their expertise and forward-thinking approach to renewable power development. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with smart and experienced developers, and we look forward to continuing to support Pine Gate’s project financings now and in the future.
The team at Pine Gate consistently demonstrates their mastery of managing an efficient supply chain. Their ability to execute project plans and deliver on their commitments is outstanding.
Pine Gate has been an outstanding company to partner with from both a strategic and financial perspective. They plan ahead and honor their commitments.
We spoke with the representative from Pine Gate who came to our home and explained the process. After careful consideration, it was almost a no brainer. My husband works hard on the farm and we needed to replace a portion of my income when I retire. And so we made the plunge into unfamiliar territory. The personnel have been great, timely in their communications. We are so grateful that we took a leap of faith! I am now retired, the added income from the solar panels has been a godsend to us.