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With acquisition complete, Chevron to invest in Ames to reach renewable fuels goals, new company president says

With acquisition complete, Chevron to invest in Ames to reach renewable fuels goals, new company president says

Chevron’s acquisition of Ames-based Renewable Energy Group will help the oil and gas company advance its goal of producing 4 million gallons of renewable fuel a day by 2030 with the talent and knowledge it brings to the table, said Kevin Lucke, the new president of Chevron’s renewable energy operation.

Lucke said to reach that goal, he would expect Chevron to increase investment in resources in Ames.

Lucke, 63, began his new role on Monday after Chevron’s acquisition was completed. For Lucke, it’s a homecoming of sorts.

He grew up in Iowa and his family still farms in the state. And he’s an Iowa State University alumnus. Lucke received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University, and his master's in business administration from Pepperdine University in California.

It’s that background and connection to Iowa that Lucke said will lessen what he acknowledges will be a steep learning curve as he acclimates to his new role.

“Trust me, it’s still steep," he said. “What REG is doing and plans to do is still quite new to me, so I do still have quite a steep learning curve based on my initial interactions I’ve had with the team here.”

Lucke said his first task is to listen.

“I and Chevron need to listen and learn from what they’ve been doing in the past and what’s made them successful, what their plans are and their strategies going forward,” he said. “That’s job one.”

Second, he said, is getting to know the REG team.

“There’s very talented people who are committed to making a fuel that is renewable, making a difference in less carbon to our customers. So getting to know our people is very important to me personally,” Lucke said.

Third is “how can we marry the two companies together to have something together that is better than what each company has today?” he said.

“Chevron is already a large marketer of fuels in California,” Lucke said. “REG is trying to grow and is growing in that part of the world. The two of us will be able to be more successful together in California marketing renewable fuels than either of us could have been by ourselves. So maybe those are the three things that are on my to-do list in the early weeks here.”

Lucke touted the relationship REG has with Iowa State University, and he said he’s looking forward to continuing and building on that collaboration.

“I dare say it’s been critical for the success of REG, having those resources here,” he said. “I think it’s a mutual relationship that we need to continue to foster and grow for success for us and for the university.”

Lucke said the industry is facing significant challenges globally with crude oil supply and demand.

“You look around and see the challenges that are happening; we need to continue to focus the energy policies of the United States and other locations to have more domestically produced fuels, and REG is right in the middle of that,” he said. “They can be a solution to providing more fuels in a very uncertain time. The unfortunate situation in Ukraine and the impact it’s had, it’s disrupted the supply demand of energy, and a company like REG can step in and really make a difference.”

With Ames being the hub of Chevron’s renewable fuels efforts, all decision-making and strategy development will come through Ames, Lucke said.

“There may very well be people sitting outside of Ames working in Houston or California or Singapore, but their working direction and strategy will all be coming from Ames,” he said. “It’s very exciting to see that moving to Ames, where the center of expertise is, and where that close collaboration with Iowa State is for the future of where renewable fuels is headed. It’s exciting that Ames will be right in the middle and center of that for Chevron.”

Lucke, who is married with two sons, both of whom are also Iowa State graduates, said Chevron’s goal of creating 4 million gallons of renewable fuels a day will mean more resources being invested in Ames.

REG will bring about one-third of those gallons so we have a tremendous growth commitment not achieved yet, and REG will be the mechanism and the vehicle for us to be able to do that,” he said. “For us to reach those growth aspirations we’re going to need more resources, more people, more talent and more expertise like REG has today.”

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