John D. Kuhns is a novelist who writes about his life experiences. When not writing, he has been a financier and industrialist who has spent his career in venture capital, investment banking and electric power production. Beyond the United States, Mr. Kuhns also has established, invested in and financed companies in many foreign settings including Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, England, Honduras, the Republic of Ireland, India, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Wales. Currently, Mr. Kuhns is the Chief Executive Officer of Bougainville Fund Management, LLC, a company engaged in the gold business in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a unit of Papua New Guinea.
In the electric power and infrastructure industries, Mr. Kuhns has been an innovator and trendsetter, founding and managing 6 companies which have conducted their initial public offerings.
Catalyst Energy Corporation, founded by Mr. Kuhns in 1981, was the first independent power company (IPP) in the United States and the country’s fastest growing public company from 1982 to 1987, according to Inc. Magazine. Catalyst Energy’s shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. During this time, Mr. Kuhns also founded Catalyst Thermal Corporation, one of the nation’s largest steam utilities, and help found Municipal Development Corporation, both going public in 1987. The New World Power Corporation, founded by Mr. Kuhns in 1988, was a renewable energy-based IPP and the first wind power company to go public. In 2006, Mr. Kuhns founded China Hydroelectric Corporation, which developed or acquired 27 hydroelectric stations generating 563 megawatts in the People’s Republic of China; the company listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in January 2010.
Mr. Kuhns has pursued a parallel career as an investment banker, venture capitalist and private equity investor. Originally employed at Salomon Brothers in 1976, Mr. Kuhns and several partners from Salomon Brothers in 1979 founded J.J. Lowrey & Co., which financed many US electric utility projects and companies during this period. In the mid-1980’s Mr. Kuhns merged his investment company with Laidlaw, Adams & Peck, an investment organization tracing its roots to 1842.
Mr. Kuhns has been one of the most active venture investors in the power technology field since 1981 when he invested in the Cheng Cycle, a new form of cogeneration device. Mr. Kuhns also invested in several solar power companies. The Solar Electric Light Company, co-founded by Mr. Kuhns in 1996, was the first company to sell solar home systems to rural customers off the grid in the third world, manufacturing, financing and selling solar products to customers in India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. GenSelf, a company founded by Mr. Kuhns and management in 2002, was one of the most successful early sellers of solar systems to residential and light industry customers in Southern California. After investing in 1999 in NanoFlex Power Corporation, a developer of advanced solar photovoltaic technologies, Mr. Kuhns became a director and subsequently Chairman and Co-CEO. NanoFlex went public in 2015.
Mr. Kuhns has raised money for, and invested in, many companies in China. As the CEO of Catalyst, Mr. Kuhns first became involved in China in 1984, becoming the first American to purchase hydroelectric generating equipment there for use at Catalyst’s sites in the US. In the 1990’s as the head of New World, Mr. Kuhns became the first American to develop hydroelectric projects in China, as well as developing similar projects across South American and wind farms across Great Britain. In 2012, China Hydroelectric Corporation was the largest foreign-owned power company in China.
Mr. Kuhns received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology and in Fine Arts from Georgetown University, where he was also captain of the varsity football team and is a member of the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame; a MFA from the University of Chicago, where he was also a teaching assistant in sculpture and drawing and an art critic for the Maroon, the university’s newspaper; and a MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Mr. Kuhns is a frequent contributor on matters involving Southeast Asia to Bloomberg, CNBC, and other media. He lives with his family in Connecticut and he can be contacted via the Contact Page.