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Energy Innovators: Ringing in an Age of Enlightenment

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1999

Certainly, personally, making vice president at age 28 was a big victory. I don't know if I consider it a victory; it certainly goes in the feel-good category. The victory I think is really the business itself and taking it from nothing to now where you can say that there has been $4 billion of risk covered in a market that no one knew existed 30 months ago. That, to me, is phenomenal. While I will not take credit for all that developing, I will take credit for helping to spread the message.

Dennis W. Kelly - Green Market Phenom

From slaking the world's thirst to improving air quality, Kelly counts on slick marketing and an appeal to fun to succeed in a serious business.

What does a veteran of corporate behemoth Coca-Cola bring to a hip upstart green power supplier like GreenMountain.com, with its emphasis on environmental stewardship? In the case of Dennis Kelly, Green Mountain's president and CEO, it's technical and marketing expertise.

Technology is essential to the company's operations, both internally and as a Web business. But innovative marketing has made the company's Green Mountain Energy the most chosen U.S. brand in "cleaner power." In fact, more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians and Californians had switched to the electric supplier as of November.

According to Kelly, fun is an essential ingredient in the promotion of clean power at GreenMountain.com, both in the office and in marketing. The company's 80 employees are encouraged to do their jobs better through individual empowerment and, at times, shooting hoops for prizes. Some of the company's groundbreaking marketing initiatives have included "g*commerce" alliances with other green companies; EcoCredits, a customer rewards program; and a bonus miles program with United Airlines. And what other power marketer is endorsed by a pop star? Kenny Loggins fronts Green Mountain.com.

In addition to winning residential customers and even some commercial businesses, Green Mountain.com points to new renewable power sources as evidence of its environmental impact. Three wind turbines in California and a Pennsylvania windmill farm were built this year as a direct result of customer choice in those states.

Yet Kelly never loses sight of the bottom line. With $1.5 million in revenues to date, this Harvard MBA predicts that good business is what will make clean power permanent and sustainable. - R.R.J.

How did work at Coca-Cola prepare you for leadership at GreenMountain.com?

I was at Coca-Cola for 16 years, mostly in marketing and general management. My last job was as director of marketing for Europe and deputy chief marketing officer. I also ran worldwide marketing research for Coca-Cola.

My favorite jobs were in Coca-Cola general management. I was general manager of the noncarbonated beverages group, which launched PowerAde, Fruitopia and Nestea in the United States. I was also general manager of the unit that made all the orange juice for McDonald's. So those were my favorite jobs.

One of the reasons I was attracted to Green Mountain was the chance to combine my technical background - I'm a trained mechanical engineer in applied thermodynamics - with general management

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