L-R: Ruth Fein (IREC); Joanne Yepsen (IREC); U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko; Larry Sherwood (IREC); Laure-Jeanne Davignon (IREC); Michelle Barrett (IREC)

(Albany, NY) – Rep. Paul Tonko today was presented with a 2017 Energy Hero Award by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, represented by IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood, along with program directors from the national not-for-profit headquartered in Albany.

National leaders in the clean energy industry, elected officials, policymakers and advocates gathered at an event in Washington, DC March 8th in support of a strong sustainable energy future. They acknowledged collective milestones and challenges in celebration of IREC’s 35th year and honored IREC’s 2017 Energy Heroes.

Congressman Tonko was unable to attend as he was in an all-night bill mark-up for the National Health Care Act in the Energy and Commerce Committee. The award was presented today in the congressman’s Albany district office.

“It’s my great pleasure to recognize Representative Paul Tonko as an IREC Energy Hero,” said Sherwood today and at the March 8 event. “We honor his years of transformative advocacy for a sustainable energy future and a strong, skilled clean energy workforce that now employs nearly 350,000 jobs in solar and wind energy combined.”

Receiving the award Congressman Tonko said: “Advancing America’s sustainable energy future has to be one of our highest priorities in this and every Congress. Our national security and global competitiveness depend on the successful advancement of new technologies and scientific research that bring us closer to a truly clean energy future. We tend to silo our policy discussions – we need to take a larger view – to address the many implications of our energy policies.” He added: “I am honored to receive this distinguished recognition from IREC, a terrific partner on this issue with an enduring commitment to smarter energy policies, and I look forward to continuing this work in the coming years.”

IREC honors Rep. Tonko for his decades of championship for clean energy, since leading the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as president/CEO prior to his election to Congress. He has been a strong proponent of increasing electricity generation from sustainable energy sources and the massive job growth potential of clean energy technologies. Rep. Tonko sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and is ranking member of its Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

IREC’s 2017 Energy Heroes are: U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and IREC President Emeritus Jane Weissman, who stepped down in 2016 after 22 years of renowned national leadership.