2015 Solar Champions
Every year we give out Solar Champion awards at our Equinox party. Without further ado, here are our 2015 Solar Champions:
Jacqui Patterson, Director of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP
Communities of color have disproportionately borne the impacts of fossil-fuel pollution. Solar provides a solution.
As a respected leader in the social justice community, Jacqueline Patterson has drawn the critical connection between solar energy and civil rights progress across the country. She has worked to raise awareness for the harm that our existing system inflicts on communities of color and for policies that speed our transition to clean energy. She was the lead author of the NAACP’s Just Energy Policies report, which assesses all 50 states on net metering and other critical clean energy policies. She also was instrumental in the NAACP National Board of Directors’ recent resolution entitled “Promoting Equitable Access to Clean Energy Alternatives,” which supports customers’ ability to generate their own electricity through solar panels.
Vote Solar celebrates her leadership and looks forward to continued partnership in helping all Americans—but especially our most vulnerable communities—participate in and benefit from our growing solar economy.
Deputy Secretary Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall accepted on behalf of Dr. Moniz.
As United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz is tasked with implementing critical Department of Energy (DOE) missions to grow the economy, enhance security and protect the environment. During Secretary Moniz’s tenure, the DOE has pursued a portfolio of R&D efforts, including the ambitious SunShot Initiative, focused on lowering costs and increasing efficiencies for solar power. The DOE’s Loan Program Office also helped finance the first five utility-scale PV projects larger than 100 MW in the U.S. With Desert Sunlight becoming fully operational this year, all five projects are now online, generating clean electricity and repaying loans. From basic research at our national labs to scenario planning for a grid that can run on high levels of renewable energy, there’s hardly an aspect of solar that the DOE does not make better.
Dr. Moniz was called away to attend to pressing duties, and Deputy Secretary Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall accepted on his behalf. Dr. Moniz delivered his own gracious remarks via video…
David Crane, President & CEO of NRG
Our 2015 Utility Solar Champion award goes to NRG. We typically give this award to a vertically integrated regulated utility, and NRG is more properly categorized as a power generation company. And not just any power company: with about 52 GW of generating assets—47 of which are fossil fueled—NRG is the second largest in the country, and one of the largest carbon emitters (estimated to be the 4th largest in the country).
So why the honor? Because NRG has made a voluntary commitment to do something about it—specifically, to reduce their carbon emissions by 90%, from 2014 levels, by 2050 (including an interim goal of 50% by 2030). As Dr. Sterman of MIT points out, this commitment is roughly concurrent with what all emitters need to do in order to keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C.
In the United States, electricity generation is the single largest contributor to climate change. The sad fact of the matter is that most utilities—and power generation companies—do not have business plans commensurate with a livable planet. When one of the largest emitters in the country—one based in Texas, no less—takes the leadership to make such a commitment, it not only makes a big difference, but it helps set the bar for what should be expected of corporate citizenry. We call on all their colleagues to match or exceed their example.
Frankly, that NRG has made solar so much a part of their business is just icing on the cake.