During an awards ceremony at Intersolar North America, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today honored its 2018 3iAward recipients, celebrating the nation's best innovation, ingenuity and inspiration in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The winners are based on a prestigious annual national search.
"Today, we're proud to recognize our 2018 IREC 3iAward recipients - among the nation's most extraordinary people, projects and programs making a sustainable energy future a reality," said IREC Board Chair Larry Shirley.
"Their work is setting new standards - creating solutions to today's complex renewable energy and energy efficiency challenges - changing communities and our national energy landscape in the process," added Ken Jurman, IREC board member and chair of the 3iAwards Committee.
"As we honor their achievements, IREC celebrates its 36th year," Shirley said. "We are more proud than ever of our own history, leading transformative policies and practices that allow millions more Americans to benefit from clean renewable energy."
Award applications were accepted in six categories: Community/Shared Renewables, State & Local Government Initiatives, Regulatory Champion, IREC Accredited Training Provider, IREC Certified Clean Energy Trainer, and for the first time, IREC Young Clean Energy Innovator.
Also at the awards ceremony, five special IREC Energy Heroes were honored.
State/Local Government Achievement of the Year
New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) Solar Market Accelerator
As part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative to establish a self-sustaining solar industry in the state, NYSERDA launched a Solar Market Accelerator. Its purpose is to resolve the most pressing market obstacles to greater solar adoption in New York, in particular related to interconnection. NYSERDA, in conjunction with NYS Department of Public Service (DPS), established two Ombudsmen to develop reporting mechanisms for the interconnection queue and deployed technical assistance to resolve issues with individual projects. They also increased interconnection transparency by developing utility maps showing areas of distributed generation (DG) constraints and eliminated the backlog of incomplete utility engineering studies. As a result of these and other efforts, interconnection costs for projects currently under development fell more than 40 percent. Total installed solar capacity experienced an unprecedented 1,000 percent growth from December 2011-December 2017. New York now ranks 3rd nationally in solar jobs.
Community/Shared Renewables Project of the Year
New Partners Community Solar, Washington D.C.
What do you do if you're the first to use a community solar law passed in Washington D.C. in late 2013? If you're Herb Stevens and Jeff Lesk, partners at Nixon Peabody, you create a non-profit that installs rooftop solar and donates the produced energy to affordable housing residents. Brookfield Office Properties, home to Nixon Peabody, donated its roof space for the project, where it will generate 182 kilowatts of solar energy. Today, New Partners is distributing $25,000 per year in $20-30 monthly utility bill credits to 100 low-income families. Lessons learned from this first project are helping the non-profit with its second phase, five times the size. New Partners has plans to develop 1 MW of solar over 12 - 15 rooftops, helping another 300 low- and moderate-income residents in the coming years. They are also expanding to fund job training for Washingtonians who want to be part of the growing renewable energy economy.
Regulatory Champion of the Year
Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chicago IL
Where Midwest regulatory reform issues call for talented public interest environmental entrepreneurs, you'll find the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Since 1993, ELPC has been improving the quality of life in Midwest communities, now with offices in nine states. Nowhere is ELPC's handiwork more apparent than in the Illinois Future Energy Jobs bill and the Illinois Power Agency's Long Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, both of which will help usher in new wind and solar projects. ELPC has played a pivotal role advancing community solar and interconnection reform in Illinois, Iowa and most recently Minnesota, where consumers and communities experienced major backlogs, delays and costs to connect community solar projects to the grid. Along with IREC and Fresh Energy, ELPC successfully petitioned the Minnesota Public Utility Commission for more transparent, nationally consistent interconnection standards. New common sense interconnection standards now lay the foundation for more Midwesterners to benefit from clean energy for years to come.
IREC Accredited Training Provider of the Year
South Middlesex Opportunity Council Green Jobs Academy, Massachusetts
For an unemployed or underemployed worker, training to enter and advance in the weatherization industry is a dream opportunity. That's what the Green Jobs Academy (GJA) is all about - established by the South Middlesex Opportunity Council in Massachusetts to offer career path opportunities in weatherization and conservation. The GJA is known throughout the weatherization industry for building a quality, skilled workforce. Its permanent weatherization training center trains installers, crew chiefs, and contractor/owners and offers additional leading to industry certifications that allow workers to advance in position and pay. The academy has built relationships with more than 200 weatherization contractors since 2010, crossing into neighboring states. To-date, 316 low-income/unemployed weatherization installers have graduated, and 252 have been placed in permanent jobs.
IREC Certified Master Trainers of the Year
Julie Brazeau, Midwest Renewable Energy Association
Julie's resume offers an impressive list: IREC certified PV (photovoltaic) instructor, IBEW journeyman wireman, master electrician, electrical inspector, NABCEP certified PV installer emeritus, IAEI certified trainer, and a steadfast member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). Julie develops PV curriculum and certificate programs, and coordinates customized PV training for municipalities, businesses, educational institutions, solar events and community organizations. On the Illinois Solar for All Working Group's training sub-team, she works to maximize benefits of the Future Energy Jobs Act for economically disadvantaged households and environmental justice communities in the state. Admired as an effective and caring instructor, and a mentor for women in renewable energy, Julie is broadly recognized across the Midwest and the nation.
Bob Hattier, Alternative Currents, Illinois
Bob, a supervising master electrician, trains firefighters, electrical inspectors and plan reviewers. He teaches about PV systems, EV charging infrastructure and green building for MREA, IBEW Local 134, and the U.S. Green Building Council Illinois chapter. In his spare time, he operates as co-owner of Alternative Currents, LLC, a Chicago-based renewable energy design company. Bob's experience was instrumental in creating the hands-on lab curriculum for MREA's renewable energy training field. The systems are installed and un-installed by students, providing indispensable experience. From first year electrical apprentices to 40-year electrical inspectors, Bob engages each student so they genuinely understand the material and are well-prepared to take their place in the solar PV workforce.
Young Clean Energy Innovators of the Year
Rubin York, Orlando Utilities Commission
As an emerging technology engineer at Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), Rubin researches technologies, designs experiments and tests new products and materials in renewable energy and energy conservation. While at the University of Central Florida (UCF) he analyzed wind data, then created his own vertical access wind turbine design using a 3-D printer. He also constructed a small floating solar photovoltaics (PV) platform with help from mechanical engineering students, and OUC is now siting a full-scale version based on its success. Rubin also led a research team at Limbitless Solutions, a non-profit using additive manufacturing to advance personalized bionics solutions for individuals with disabilities, and established a solar art scholarship competition for a student-designed solar sculpture, later installed by OUC.
Tumininu (Tumi) Lawanson, University of North Carolina/Charlotte
Tumi Lawanson was determined to help improve electricity access and reliability in her home country, Nigeria, and around the world. She pursued a career in power and energy and is now an electrical engineering doctoral student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte. She is a member of the Power Delivery Innovation Group there, where her research focuses on leveraging opportunities and addressing challenges associated with increasing renewable energy on the grid. Tumi is also working on research projects with Duke Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Besides her rigorous academic and work schedule, she is active in many student professional organizations, and she has presented her work at DistribuTech and IEEE conferences.
IREC Energy Heroes
International Association of Fire Fighters & National Association of State Fire Marshals
Fire fighters across the U.S. are becoming more aware of the critical need to be solar smart, thanks to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), working with IREC for over two years as part of a U.S. DOE initiative that brings together the national fire service, solar and training experts. Rather than wait for an emergency to learn the basics of solar technologies, more than 5,000 firefighters have now taken advantage of interactive, scenario-based online training courses and live training solar workshops so safety hazards can be minimized when fighting a fire where solar technology is present. Together, the IAFF and the NASFM have helped put the word out to more than a half-million firefighters about solar training IREC created specifically for their members.
"We salute the 5,000+ firefighters across the U.S. who are now "solar smarter" because of their commitment to the most current training," said IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. "We honor these Energy Heroes for
their resolve to offer the best professional development and training in the wake of exponential growth of solar."
International Association of Electrical Inspectors & International Code Council
Municipal code officials often wear multiple hats and now more than ever must be up-to-date on the latest solar technologies and codes. Acknowledging these challenges, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) and the International Code Council's Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) have worked with IREC to bring the best new training to their professionals. In just 18 months, more than 5,000 building and electrical inspectors and planners participated in unique, online and live solar trainings thanks to the commitment and work of these two organizations.
"Technical training doesn't haveto be boring to be effective," said IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon, "and our collaborative new interactive, video-based online training proves that case. Spreading the word about the value of the training and engaging their professionals -- that's what we celebrate in these two IREC Energy Heroes."
Sky Stanfield, J.D., IREC Regulatory Counsel
Partner Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP Sky represents IREC's regulatory program, advancing reforms on distributed energy resource (DER) policy matters in dozens of states across the country. She provides pioneering thoughtleadership on a number of topics, including interconnection, energy storage, grid modernization, hosting capacity analyses, and integrated distribution planning. Her expertise is instrumental to IREC's work to increase consumer access to clean energy and expedite the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable energy system. Sky's unique ability to translate technical issues and integrate them into regulatory and process reforms is helping to transform the nation's electric system and streamline the integration of DERs on the grid. She has authored several influential publications for IREC, and regularly blogs and speaks on IREC's behalf. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers since 2011, Sky's passion and dedication to a clean energy future earned her the 2010 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for environmental and pro bono advocacy work.