Bringing Renewable Projects to Life: "It's Pretty Incredible"

Amy Cherko used to love tagging along on cross-country business trips with her father, who worked in the environmental and power utility industry.

“I remember going to the San Diego Zoo and seeing the beach for the first time,” Amy said. “These trips were very formative and inspired me to study biology in college. The environment has always been a huge passion of mine.”

Today, Amy’s passion has turned into a career in environmental sciences. She has worked on many environmental projects across multiple disciplines and geographies. A senior team leader, Amy oversees our utility environmental sciences group.

Amy enjoys partnering with renewables clients to bring forward-thinking projects like wind farms, battery storage, and solar energy to life. For her, it’s exciting to see how the industry has grown, and it is rewarding to be a part of it.

What led you to Olsson?

I joined Olsson in 2012 and I learned a lot about all the things that environmental professionals can be and can do. I always appreciated the opportunities to be challenged and try different things. It's great to be a part of the firm for as long as I have and see us grow and be forward-facing, while maintaining our culture.

When I came to Olsson, I was excited to be at a firm where I could contribute not only my technical ability but contribute part of who I am to an organization. From mentorship to volunteer committees to now serving as the chair of Olsson’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, there are so many ways to get involved at the firm.

Why did you decide to specialize in utility environmental work?

I really enjoy working with renewable energy clients to help with the overall development process of their projects. Being a part of the industry and seeing how much the industry has grown is very exciting. Renewable energy is so important.

There's not much of an appetite for development of coal power plants and there hasn't been one built in about a decade. Developing renewable energy is key to replacing this energy. It is forward-thinking, sustainable, and rewarding to be part of the future.

Our clients are some of the most sophisticated, savvy, and agile I’ve seen.

It helps us at Olsson to grow and be on that same page. They have a similar mindset to ours in terms of 'doing the least amount of harm and doing the most good,' and being environmentally aware on projects.

What does a typical project look like?

There’s a lot that goes into the development of a renewable energy project. From a concept to selecting the most suitable location – from an environmental and geotechnical perspective – to permitting, regulations, and construction. It’s pretty incredible to see a wind farm that’s been operating for years and know our team played a part in making that happen.

From an environmental perspective, we go out to some project sites years ahead of construction. We help with avian, raptor nests, wetland surveys and more. This is required before a client can begin the local permitting processes.

Whether it’s state, local, or federal environmental regulations, we help clients comply with different laws, ordinances, and regulations.

It’s our job to help make sure sensitive resources are avoided and environmental impacts are minimized. Throughout construction and even after, we can provide environmental monitoring of sensitive resources or help the client collect necessary data to stay in compliance with different regulations and project commitments.

Amy Cherko
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