(Chicago, IL) – Today the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) honored national award winners for the Best of 2013 in renewable energy and energy efficiency. In celebration of 20 years of recognizing exemplary people, projects and programs, this year the competitive awards were renamed the IREC 3iAwards.
“Today we celebrate the nation’s trailblazers whose passion to change the status quo in renewable energy and energy efficiency enables and inspires others to transform communities with lasting solutions,” said IREC President and CEO Jane Weissman.
Awards were presented for: State & Local Government Project of the Year, Community Renewable Project of the Year, IREC Accredited Training Program of the Year, and IREC Certified Trainer of the Year. Four special recognition awards were also presented.
“With these awards we recognize innovative solutions to solving tough problems; we salute the ingenuity of those who think outside the box to advance the use of clean energy; and we thank those who inspire others to make a difference,” said IREC Board Chair David Warner.
Honored Award Recipients
State & Local Project of the Year
California Public Utilities Commission – for its Rule 21 Interconnection Tariff, ensuring it continues to be one of the most forward-thinking interconnection tariffs in the country. In September 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a proposed settlement between California’s three major investor-owned utilities and 11 other stakeholders, including IREC and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), enacting the first fundamental redesign of Rule 21 since 2000.
The Rule 21 Working Group successfully developed a model tariff that offers simplified interconnection for distributed generation (DG) projects. Rule 21, now emulated in numerous states, saves DG customers time and money and improves utility/customer communication. It has helped maintain consistent DG interconnection standards in California, including updated fast track screens, a robust Supplemental Review process that uses a 100 percent minimum load screen to determine whether full study is required if no other safety or reliability concerns are identified.
Community Renewable Project of the Year
Solar San Antonio (TX) – for its Bring Solar Home Campaign, which offers San Antonio residents ease and accessibility to go solar. This campaign, a collaboration between City Public Service (CPS) and the local solar installation industry, combines public outreach, marketing strategies and financing options into a program that makes going solar easy and affordable. The campaign was designed after the results from a citywide poll showed that 40 percent of residents were ready to go solar, but upfront costs and lack of information were major barriers. The campaign addresses both of these issues. As of August 2013, 165 PV installations (1.33MW) make up 16 percent of CPS’s service area installations.
Clean Energy Training Program of the Year
Energy Coordinating Agency/Philadelphia. From weatherizing more than 3,000 low-income homes and replacing more than 4,000 heaters for low income residents, to offering energy education workshops to some 8,000 individuals and providing green job training to more than 900 students per year, the Energy Coordinating Agency/Philadelphia (ECA) helps people conserve energy and promotes a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Clean Energy Trainers of the Year
(This is the first year for this award to recognize IREC certified trainers.)
Clay Sterling, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). To his colleagues at MREA, Sterling is considered a gateway instructor. He gets his students hooked, and then inspires them to take more classes and pursue careers in renewable energy.
A PV and wind course instructor at the MREA for more than 10 years, Sterling holds two IREC credentials as a certified instructor in both solar PV and small wind. He was the nation’s first IREC Certified Instructor for Small Wind Energy.
Sterling spearheaded the early development of MREA’s training program, now grown from a few classes to dozens of courses across the Midwest, and he was instrumental in launching MREA’s online courses. The City of Milwaukee’s facility staff and engineers use the “Solar Operation and Maintenance” curriculum he developed. Sterling takes classes at MREA taught by his fellow instructors and is in graduate school studying curriculum development.
Timothy Wilhelm, Kankakee Community College (KCC). Tim Wilhelm’s teaching resume at KCC spans the alphabet: from alcohol fuel to wind power. He has inspired students and co-workers with a passion for what he does since 1981. In 2004, he became the Electrical Technology Program coordinator and professor of Electrical Technology and Renewable Energy. He owns and operates Wilhelm Engineering, specializing in renewable energy system design, sales and installation. He also teaches at The Midwest Solar Training Network.
Wilhelm works with the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living, which teaches young students the importance of renewable energy. He’s developing a pipeline of students from high schools to community colleges who are interested in renewable energy careers, part of a National Science Foundation project called Community Colleges Confronting the Conundrum. And he works with Power Pack Kankakee, a program that supports regional manufacturers, works with lending agencies, builds a customer base for local solar installers through education and free solar site assessments.
From L to R: Commissioner Michael Champley, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission; Michael Azuma, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission; Clay Sterling, Midwest Renewable Energy Association; David Clements, International Association of Electrical Inspectors; Jane Weissman, IREC; Walt Yakabosky, Energy Coordinating Agency; Ken Jurman, IREC; David Warner, IREC; Neal Reardon, California PUC; Jason Pittman, Solar San Antonio; Tim Wilhelm, Kankakee Community College
2013 Special Recognition Awards
Roy Swift, Ph.D., American National Standards Institute (ANSI)senior program director of Personnel Credentialing Accreditation Program, honored for his deep commitment to building a competent workforce. An internationally acclaimed leader, IREC and the clean energy industries have benefitted from his expertise and success at advancing best credentialing practices. His leadership resulted in the formation of the ANSI-IREC partnership – a joint effort to assess clean energy certificate training programs.
David Clements, International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI)CEO and executive director, honored for ensuring safety and quality training for inspectors of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. Under his leadership, IAEI is working with IREC to bring state-of-the-art online training to code officials.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, recognizing commissioners Hermina Morita, Lorraine Akiba and Michael Champley, who shepherded a path-breaking plan to enable more rooftop solar systems to connect to the grid, despite skyrocketing penetrations on the islands’ electric grids. The commissioners’ foresight helped put Hawaii on the cutting edge of accommodating high penetrations of solar energy and has offered a model for other utilities across the country to follow.
The County of San Bernardino, California, for reinforcing the need for credentials that demonstrate clean energy training is in alignment with industry-identified skills. This is the first local government Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to add language about IREC accreditation to its website. Voluntary language is a significant step toward educating the training community about the importance of credentialing and the value of raising the bar for quality in workforce training.