MCEC announces winners of 2014 Maryland Clean Energy Awards

Original Source | By: MCEC

(Annapolis, Md., Sept. 29, 2014) -- They have pioneered technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, galvanized faith communities to embrace clean energy, advanced financing models for clean energy developments, spearheaded huge solar and wind power purchases, advanced paradigm-shifting studies in clean energy’s potential, pushed sustainability goals to new heights on a university campus, and showed low-income families how to reduce their energy use.

They are the winners of the 2014 Maryland Clean Energy Awards.

“There were some outstanding nominees this year and we are finding that the awards keep getting more competitive each year,” said Kathy Magruder, MCEC Executive Director. “The winners this year are truly deserving of the recognition from the Maryland Clean Energy Center.”

A committee of MCEC Advisory Board members, previous Clean Energy Award winners and other stakeholders conducted the search for and selection of this year’s award winners. The awards will be presented at the Maryland Clean Energy Summit, October 14-15 in Hyattsville.

The award winners are as follows.

Clean Energy Champion: Robert Embry, Jr., The Abell Foundation

Described as a quiet presence with big impact, Robert Embry, Jr. has championed numerous initiatives through The Abell Foundation that are facilitating Maryland’s paradigm shift to a clean energy economy. Those include supporting:

Legislative Leadership, Senate: Senator Brian Feldman

A member of the General Assembly since 2002, Senator Feldman has lead numerous legislative initiatives to advance clean energy and energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He supported the creation of Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and its solar carveout, championed regulations promoting adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency in state and county buildings, paved the way for use of electric vehicles, supported offshore wind development, added a thermal credit to the RPS for the energy equivalent BTUs displaced by geothermal systems, and added qualifying biomass to the inventory of technologies eligible for renewable energy credits.

Legislative Leadership, House of Delegates: Delegate David Rudolph

A 20-year member of the General Assembly and vice chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, Delegate David Rudolph deeply understands the importance of evolving Maryland’s energy sector. During the past session, he co-sponsored legislation to create a thermal renewable energy credit within the RPS system, championed a bill to bring a poultry litter-to-energy demonstration project online, and supported legislation that would enable new hydrokinetic energy solutions. He was also the primary sponsor of legislation passed to provide appropriate protections for consumers in the competitive retail electricity and retail gas markets.

Capital Partner of the Year: Washington Gas Energy Systems

Washington Gas Energy Systems, a subsidiary of WGL Holdings Inc., design-builds and owns custom energy solutions that deliver financial, operational and carbon-reduction results. The company has provided funding as well as technical and construction solutions that have enabled the installation of energy-efficient and renewable-energy systems across the state and country. Those have included numerous projects at schools and nonprofits, including the 110-kilowatt solar array at Bullis School in Potomac, Md. It brings work to local contractors and helps create and sustain clean energy jobs in Maryland. The company also owns more than 55 megawatts of commercial-scale solar installations across the U.S.

Advisory Advocate: Joelle Novey, Interfaith Power & Light

As the director of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, Novey has spent the past five years educating faith-based communities about energy and environmental issues, and inspiring action. Working together with Groundswell, IPL has organized clean-energy purchasing groups that have enabled both churches and individual homeowners to switch to 100 percent wind power at attractive prices. IPL helped religious voices speak up for clean energy in Annapolis and galvanized faith communities to advocate for offshore wind energy. IPL is currently organizing Baltimore’s first residential-solar purchasing co-op and working to increase Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 40 percent.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Bob Mroz, HY-TEK, Ltd. and HY-TEK Bio, LLC

As president and CEO of HY-TEK Bio, Bob Mroz has built the company into an emerging, global leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through algae-based technology. HY-TEK’s patent-pending technology can absorb up to 100 percent of GHG emissions from flue gases produced by industrial manufacturing and power generation. Algae produced through the process can be converted into valuable products and sold. HY-TEK currently operates an industrial-scale facility mitigating GHG emissions from a 3-megawatt, methane-fired power plant and is demonstrating its technology at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore City. HY-TEK Bio recently received both a Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPs) grant and a $500,000 grant from the Climate Change & Emissions Management Corp. in Alberta, Canada.

Next Generation Award: Ori Gutin, Junior at University of Maryland College Park

An Environmental Science and Policy major, Ori Gutin has become a sustainability leader at UMD. He drafted a resolution which was passed by the Student Government Association, urging the university president to adopt new clean energy initiatives. His measure prompted university administration to announce three new energy initiatives this year, including a commitment to only purchase renewable power by 2020, reduce campus electricity consumption 20 percent by 2020, and ensure all new campus development is carbon neutral. Gutin has spearheaded initiatives to encourage students to become actively engaged in sustainability through their personal actions, internships or volunteer work. He also serves on the University Sustainability Council which tracks campus progress relative to its Climate Action Plan.

Bright Light Award: Fuel Fund of Maryland

A not-for-profit largely funded by donations, the Fuel Fund of Maryland provides resources to vulnerable Maryland families for heat and home utility needs. The 30-year-old operation this year set record highs in service, helping more than 9,000 families with their home energy bills. The Fund’s assistance, however, goes beyond financial assistance. The organization created the Fuel Fund Watt Watchers program to educate and empower consumers to take charge of their energy consumption and manage their costs. Watt Watchers provides community-based education sessions and ongoing support and advice to individuals to help them identify ways to reduce energy use and successfully implement conservation measures. Over the past year, Watt Watchers taught more than 2,000 individuals how to save energy and money.

Excellence in Public Service: Rob Taylor, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

Responsible for energy services and costs at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), Rob Taylor has made major strides to include clean energy in the WSSC’s energy portfolio. He spearheaded an initiative to purchase 30 percent of the WSSC’s energy from regional wind energy installations. He coordinated bid services and contracts to install more than 4 megawatts of onsite solar power at two waste-water treatment plants, and is planning to install an additional 2 megawatts in the future. As a result of his efforts, the WSSC is currently generating more than 39 kilowatt hours of renewable energy.

Special Recognition: Delegate Tom Hucker

A long-term and tireless supporter of clean energy, Delegate Hucker has been an instrumental player in some of the biggest initiatives to create a clean energy economy in Maryland. He served on the working group that brought manufacturers, environmentalists and labor unions together to draft and pass Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act – one of the toughest state laws on climate change in America at the time. He worked closely with Governor Martin O’Malley to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Act and launch the state into a whole new field of clean energy development.

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