Alex Perez (far left), Wind Technician at Wake Wind Energy Center, during service days in the Army.

As we honor National Veterans and Military Families Month this November, Invenergy would like to take the time to acknowledge and thank veterans not only for their service to the country, but also for their contributions to building a more sustainable world.

Approximately 10 percent of Invenergy employees are military veterans—from colleagues at our Chicago headquarters to technicians and plant managers at our energy centers across the country.

Today, we are proud to feature Matt Drennan, Plant Manager, Nelson Energy Center (600 MW, natural gas) in Illinois and Alex Perez, Wind Technician, Wake Wind Energy Center (257 MW) in Texas.

Matt Drennan, Plant Manager at Nelson Energy Center, presents a donation to the local Rock Falls Fire Department.

How long have you been at Invenergy and what is your current role?

Matt Drennan: I’m the Plant Manager at Nelson Energy Center in Illinois. I joined Invenergy when the company bought Hardee Power Station (370 MW, natural gas) in Florida in 2004.
Alex Perez: I have been with Invenergy for nine months as a wind turbine technician. My main responsibilities include performing routine maintenances, troubleshooting mechanical and electrical faults, and repairing or replacing components

Tell us about your service.

MD: I was in the Navy from July 1983 to May 1992 and was in the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program. I qualified as Electrical Operator, Shutdown Reactor Operator and Engineering Watch Supervisor. I served on the USS Mississippi, a nuclear-powered cruiser stationed in Norfolk, VA, and served as an instructor at the West Milton, NY sight, a Nuclear Power Training Unit.
I started at Hardee Power Station on the same day I got out of the Navy.
AP: I was in the Army from July 2012 to January 2019 and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant. I held two military occupational specialties while in service—first as a 91B (Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic) working on various military tactical vehicles for two and a half years, and then as a 15R (Attack Helicopter Repairer), working, planning, and supervising maintenance on AH-64D/E Apaches for four years.
I did two tours in South Korea and one tour in Europe which consisted of serving in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Germany. When back stateside, I was stationed at Fort Hood, TX.

How did you make the transition to the energy industry and Invenergy specifically?

MD: Working at Hardee Power Station was my first civilian job in energy.  I was an O&M Technician, a combination plant operator and maintenance technician. The Navy trained me in energy, operations and electrical maintenance which were significant in helping me excel at Hardee Power Station.  
AP:  I was fascinated with how much growth and opportunity there is in the sustainable energy industry. I transitioned into the industry by attending a career skills program where various employers and schools came down to Fort Hood to discuss education and employment opportunities. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a Renewable Energy and Communications Tower Tech Program offered by Airstreams Renewables Inc. The vocational training provided me with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of wind energy. The day I completed my military service, Invenergy hired me as a wind turbine technician at their Wake Wind Energy Center.

How did your military experience prepare you for your job now? What skills, capabilities, and characteristics transfer over? 

MD: The Navy trained us on electrical power generation, safety, compliance and leadership. Many of the shipboard systems are the same as a power plant, so the training we received transferred directly into my role at Hardee. 
AP: Coming from most recently working on helicopters, I was taught to be very thorough in all tasks and inspections. Being safety-minded and meticulous was an important aspect of the job because pilots’ lives were on the line if any mistakes were made on maintenances or in reassembly. Although turbines work differently, I still treat my tasks with precision, following every step with no shortcuts.
Having been in four different units during service, I learned how to work with personnel from all backgrounds which I believe has also made me a strong and collaborative team player.

Why is it important that Invenergy maintains our commitment to hiring veterans? 

MD: It is beneficial to both parties. Our servicemen who sacrifice deserve our thanks and support, and Invenergy benefits with qualified, hardworking, and dedicated employees.
AP: Veterans are molded to be reliable, self-managed, and committed to producing high-quality results.

What does Veterans Day mean to you? 

MD: It’s important to recognize and celebrate the veterans in our communities. At Nelson Energy Center, we host an annual luncheon at our local VFW where we honor the vets and their families. We really try to make it a special day.
AP: Veterans Day to me is a day where we as a nation recognize, honor, and give thanks to those who have served our country. Freedom is not always free, and all veterans were willing to pay the ultimate price when they signed the dotted line.

 

Matt and Alex are two of many veteran men and women whose hard work and dedication to quality help support our mission at Invenergy. Veterans greatly enhance our workplace, and we are committed to bringing more to the team.