Leadership Team

Dedicated and driven to build a clean energy future in a growing industry.

One company, many hats. Novel Energy Solutions is a collaboration of individual skills unified through our common motivation – our passion to develop solutions that are good for people, the planet and our clients’ bottom line.

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Founder and CEO

Cliff Kaehler

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Chief Operating Officer

Will Georgia

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Chief Financial Officer

Eric Schoch

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VP Business Development

Ian Schonwald

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Business Development

Ralph Kaehler

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Utility Liaison

Mena Kaehler

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VP of Project Development

Paula Fitzgerald

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VP of Construction

Tobias Brown

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General Counsel

Dan Dillon

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Director of Policy & Government Affairs

David Shaffer

Founder and CEO

Cliff Kaehler

Cliff earned majors in both Finance and Accounting, graduating Cum Laude from Georgetown University. In 2012, after working on Wall Street in the Power and Renewables Group of Credit Suisse’s Investment Bank, Cliff founded Novel Energy Solutions, LLC (NES). During his time at Credit Suisse, he worked on over $10 billion worth of deals in the debt, equity, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, and tax equity sectors. As a youngster, Cliff travelled on behalf of Minnesota agriculture when he visited Cuba as a member of the state’s earliest effort to normalize agricultural trade in the post-embargo era. Since then he has been involved in agricultural exports to several continents. Inspired by what he learned working in the energy sector on Wall Street, Cliff recognized solar energy as another valuable crop for farmers back home. The added benefits that community solar gardens bring to local economies solidified his decision to found and operate NES in Minnesota, with the aim of growing the company beyond state lines. As a partner in the family’s Kaehler Cattle Company, Cliff keeps his ag roots active and growing.

Chief Operating Officer

Will Georgia

Will has been leading Operations for Novel since 2015. He serves our customers by integrating the company’s solar project origination, development, construction, and O&M teams. He holds a Master in Environmental Management (specialized in Solar Finance) from Yale University and a BA in Government from Georgetown University.

Chief Financial Officer

Eric Schoch

Eric Schoch joined Novel in February of 2020 as the CFO.  His responsibilities at Novel include finance, accounting, treasury, and IT.  Eric has more than 13 years of experience in finance and accounting management roles at Waitr, Bite Squad, and Target. He began his career with Deloitte, working in a variety of industries including utilities and energy companies.  Eric earned his Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of North Dakota.

VP Business Development

Ian Schonwald

Ian has been working in solar for 8 years, focusing on business development of 1MW-40MW utility and C&I projects. His role focuses on driving profitability through collaboration with new and existing partner organizations. Ian earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Emory University and his MBA from the University of Maryland’s Smith school.

Business Development

Ralph Kaehler

Ralph Kaehler and his family are founders and owners of Novel Energy Solutions and KLER Cattle, both of which are managed by his sons. Ralph has been married to Filomena for over 34 years and is proud of having many family members working within the two companies. He uses his extensive experience in creating new markets for progressive products to assist in the development of new business and marketing for NES, in addition to government relations for the businesses.

 

This includes a wide range of agricultural ventures – he was the fourth generation to own and operate his family’s farm and led trade missions worldwide, including leading an agricultural group to Cuba.

Utility Liaison

Mena Kaehler

Mena grew up in the foothills of Colorado where she earned her degree in Mathematics from Colorado State University. She started her career as a grades 7-12 math teacher. She and her husband, Ralph, purchased his family’s Century Farm (owned by the same family for over 100 years) in Minnesota in 1992. Together they raised two sons, Cliff and Seth, who are the fifth generation on the farm. Both sons are married with children. She is proud to be able to work with her family at both Novel Energy as well in the family cattle company – KLER Cattle.

 

Mena is a past Winona County Commissioner and a St. Charles School Board member. She is a Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) Class IV alumni and is a member of multiple agriculture and farming organizations. In addition to being a founding partner, she is the utilities liaison for Novel. There, she works with utilities and program administrators on the interconnection process, project design, and paperwork.

VP of Project Development

Paula Fitzgerald

Paula has a Master in Urban Planning from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has worked in both the public and private sectors in the project management and planning industries throughout her career. Paula successfully managed and permitted projects in Minnesota, California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois and South Dakota. She holds an American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certificate from the American Planning Association, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute.

VP of Construction

Tobias Brown

Tobias was in the construction industry for nine years and has a background in general construction, telecommunications, and renewable energy. He joined NES in 2017 and oversees all aspects of construction including project development, site design, project construction, project commissioning, and operations and maintenance. Tobias has managed over 200 MWs of solar projects in Minnesota and Iowa.

General Counsel

Dan Dillon

Dan received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Before moving to Minnesota, Dan lived in Los Angeles and worked with many notables in the entertainment industry including Oprah Winfrey, Mark Burnett and Thomas Tull’s Legendry Entertainment. He focused on television production and general legal matters for such productions as The Voice, Shark Tank and Survivor. Desiring to work in the pro-environmental industry sector, Dan joined NES as General Counsel in 2019.

Director of Policy & Government Affairs

David Shaffer

David Shaffer joined Novel in July of 2021. His responsibilities include regulatory affairs, strategic collaboration, state lobbying activities, and project compliance. David began his career at the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association as an intern before working his way up to become the Executive Director in 2018. His policy work has contributed to over 800MW of community solar, creating a Solar on Schools program, multimillion-dollar extensions to Minnesota’s rooftop solar incentives, and more. David holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and received his law degree from Vermont Law School. He is a licensed attorney for the State of Minnesota and a recipient of a 2019 Midwest Energy News 40 under 40 award for his solar advocacy work.

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