Meet Shabari Basu, Wind Director
We’re celebrating Women’s History Month this March by introducing you to 10 women who help power your life at Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. They advance our company with their vision, talent, hard work and creativity. These trailblazing women – including a nuclear engineer, astrophysicist and lineman – reveal inspiring stories of persistence, pluck and achievement in largely male-dominated fields. A diverse workplace isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a competitive necessity. Today, meet Dr. Shabari Basu, a director of wind assessment for renewable energy based in Charlotte, N.C.
How do you explain your work to children?
I help make electricity out of wind and sunshine.
And what do you tell grown-ups?
I oversee a team of engineers that supervise the remote access and control of Duke Energy’s solar and wind farms and battery sites. I am involved from the beginning to the end. I prospect sites, provide technical support through construction, and then manage operations to make sure the sites are running optimally.
What led you to this career?
Like a lot of children, I dreamed of working for NASA. I got my master’s and Ph.D. in space sciences from Caltech. While I was there I worked on NASA projects including probes to Mars in the Jet Propulsion Lab. However, I graduated during the recession when NASA funding was tight and jobs in academia were more research focused. That’s when I started looking for jobs in renewable energy which I thought would be a good fit for my skill set. The field required lots of physics, thermodynamics and similar wind modeling.
Why is green energy important?
Wind and solar are clean, sustainable sources of energy. But for us to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we have to make sure these projects run profitably and efficiently. We’re getting there with advancements in technology and infrastructure. Last year, I led the review for more than 1,500 megawatts of wind and solar projects to provide cleaner energy for our customers. It’s an exciting time to be in this field, and it’s only getting more exciting. I love what I do, and I’ve never been so professionally engaged. I recently completed my MBA and now I’m fascinated by the change management aspect of getting people to adopt green energy practices.
Is it difficult to often be the only woman in a field dominated by men?
Less and less so. I used to be very shy, but not anymore. Most people will respect you if you are competent and have done your homework.