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Renewable Energy Innovators, Changemakers Recognized at REV2017

Earlier in October the 17th Annual Renewable Energy Vermont Conference & Expo, REV2017, brought together 505 attendees, including 28 government officials from across New England and Quebec to focus on “Renewables For All”. Recognizing entrepreneur, citizen, and renewable energy champions and innovators for their outstanding contributions toward securing our sustainable energy future, Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) presented three awards.

“In today’s climate, it’s even more important to recognize our neighbors who quietly work every day to help others save money and protect our environment through renewable energy. Our clean energy transformation needs and takes all of us collaborating together”, said Jeff Forward, Chair of the Renewable Energy Vermont board.

This year, the Renewable Energy Innovation Award, which recognizes a project, company, organization, or individual contributing innovative, influential, and transformative efforts for implementing renewable energy and climate action in Vermont, was awarded to the Way To Go Challenge.

Way To Go! focuses on getting K–12 schools and businesses to cut climate pollution from transportation and daily commutes.  Using transportation options, other than driving solo, helps us reach our goal of reducing 1 million lbs of carbon pollution in Vermont. That means cleaner air, more time, and less money spent on gas for everyone. Learn more at waytogovt.org. Deb Sachs of Williston, VT accepted the award on behalf of the project partners.

The Renewable Energy Champion Award recognizes an individual, typically in the renewable trades, who represents and tirelessly champions, the benefits of developing, creating, informing, and striving to improve our state with the deployment of renewable energy generation. Linda Gray, wife of Tom Gray of Norwich, VT, accepted the award given to Tom posthumously.

Tom Gray was a champion ahead of his time and beloved renewable energy pioneer. The Vermonter started what is now the American Wind Energy Association. Under Tom’s direction, AWEA supported the efforts of communities, entrepreneurs, and states to pursue clean, renewable wind energy. Tom was deeply passionate about global warming and renewable energy as an economic and climate solution and also active in his community, serving on the local planning commission and various political committees. Tom passed away last month after sustaining a head injury in a fall. On October 22 at 1 p.m. there will be a memorial service at Georgia Mountain Community Wind to celebrate Tom’s life and spread his ashes at the wind site, in accordance with his final wishes.

“Tom’s work isn’t done, so that means it is left to us,” Linda Gray told the audience after receiving the award.“ Please keep working, please keep planning, please keep advocating for clean energy and climate action,” she said in an emotional close to the morning’s award ceremony.

Over the two days, REV2017 heard from speakers such Governor Phil Scott, Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, Attorney General TJ Donovan, Quebec Delegate Marie-Claude Francoeur new Public Utilities Commission Chairman Anthony Roisman, Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, and Senate Majority Leader Becca Ballint. Joining the REV conference from northern Minnesota was a special guest speaker, Jason Edens, who has worked tirelessly to break cycles of energy poverty with renewable energy.

Wandering the exhibition floor one couldn’t help but notice a significant international presence at this year’s conference. Building on the success of a trade mission to the annual New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Conference in Prince Edward Island this summer, REV hosted a delegation of business, nonprofit, and government representatives from Quebec.

One neighbor from the north drew distinction as the winner of the Energy Innovation Pitches, as Melissa McGrail Sherbrooke, Quebec based LEKLA rose to the top of the field. LEKLA specializes in the design, manufacturing, and installation of solar powered off grid multipurpose energy stations. Trade mission participant, and REV2017 sponsor, The Lion Electric Co. also drew great attention with their 100% electric school bus which attendees enjoyed exploring at the conference.  Photos of awardees, LEKLAWay To Go, and Linda Gray receiving the award for Tom Gray.

Photos from REV2017 can be viewed here. REV2018 will convene on October 18 & 19 in South Burlington, VT.

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