Katie Laning Niebaum has left her post as president of Delta Solar of Little Rock, the solar development company led by Bob East and Douglas Hutchings, in an uncertain time for solar development in Arkansas.
She confirmed her departure to Whispers on Tuesday.
“Yes, Friday was my last day with Delta Solar,” she said. “I am stepping away from a very talented team, the best in the business.” Niebaum, a former director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, said she was taking a pause, “then on to the next opportunity.”
She promised an update on whatever that may be, while Delta Solar’s CEO, Hutchings, said he was surprised not to hear of more promising professionals leaving the solar industry, which he said is under fire in Arkansas.
“It is an uncertain time in the solar industry, and I agree that Katie was one of the best,” Hutchings said in a telephone interview. “We’re well positioned to weather the storm at Delta, and I think she agrees that we have that ability, and we certainly wish her well and know she’ll succeed in whatever is next. But there’s no question this is an uncertain time. Without certainty for the future, it’s hard to sell farmers and businesses on a solar system.”
A bill offered in the current legislative session puts Arkansas’ positive environment for solar development at risk, Hutchings said, and professionals with other options are bound to consider them.
Niebaum joined Delta in November 2021 with more than 15 years of experience in strategic communications, public affairs and management of business trade associations.
From 2016 to 2020, she was executive director of the AAEA, promoting advanced energy, and previously worked in communications and media for the National Restaurant Association in greater Washington. From 2006 to 2011, she was communications director and press secretary for former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
Niebaum, a graduate of Little Rock Central High School and the University of Virginia, has three young children. Her son, Graham, is 7. And twins Charlotte and Abigail are 2. She left the AAEA months before they were born, and joined Delta months afterward.