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American Renewable Energy Gala Celebrates Policy Champions and Corporate Leaders

  • Erin Snyder

On Tuesday, March 13, in the grand foyer of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., over 250 executives gathered to honor policy champions and industry giants for their leadership and contributions to innovation and growth of the renewable energy industry.

The 2018 American Renewable Energy Gala was a special night for ACORE members and supporters to reflect on an eventful year for the sector, celebrate industry progress and resilience in the face of policy challenges, and connect with fellow investors, developers, manufacturers, utilities, and corporate consumers who make up the renewable energy economy.

To mark the occasion, ACORE’s President and CEO Greg Wetstone presented four awards celebrating important contributions to the renewable energy sector.

The Renewable Energy Champion Awards went to Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) for his continued vocal support of renewable energy in Congress and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) for his integral role in securing a critical repair to tax legislation that has allowed the renewable sector to continue to grow. Unfortunately, Senator Markey could not receive his award in-person due to inclement weather.

The Renewable Energy Leadership Awards were presented to Blackrock for its prominent role in driving renewable capital and General Electric for its record of innovation in turbine production and commitment to financing renewable development.

2018 American Renewable Energy Awardees

Renewable Energy Champion Awardees

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was honored with the Renewable Energy Champion Award for his decisive support of the renewable energy industry in a pivotal period in late 2017. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Portman championed an important repair to the new Base-erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision in the Senate bill, which would have devastated renewable energy investment had it passed as originally constructed.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts was honored with the Renewable Energy Champion Award for being a long-time, outspoken advocate for renewable energy in Congress. Senator Markey is passionate about revolutionizing our country’s energy policies and holds to his conviction that America must lead in the development of renewable energy technologies. While in the House of Representatives, Senator Markey was co-author of the American Clean Energy and Security Act – the famous Waxman-Markey legislation which would have established a national cap and trade system and a 20 percent national renewable portfolio standard. As Chair of the Senate Climate Task
Force Senator Markey has welcomed ACORE’s input and counsel and has consistently
supported policies that would accelerate the growth of our industry.

Renewable Energy Leadership Awardees

BlackRock was honored with the Renewable Energy Leadership Award for its role in leading the transition to permanent capital within the renewable energy finance sector. BlackRock is a global financial leader with over $6 trillion in assets under management. It has focused its attention on renewable energy, driving over $5 billion in new capital from institutional investors into the renewable energy sector over the past five years. But BlackRock’s impact is much broader, as this massive asset manager has also leveraged it’s sweeping influence to urge companies across the economy do more to respond to societal challenges. While accepting the award, Jim Barry, Head of Real Assets, Managing Director, and Global Head of BlackRock Infrastructure Investment Group, remarked, “We are seeing a massive transformation in the power generation mix. We are looking at a sector that has gone from less than $20 billion dollars a year, deployed fifteen years ago, to over $300 billion invested last year.”

General Electric (GE), a company well-regarded for its success in producing wind turbines and financing renewable development, also received ACORE’s Renewable Energy Leadership Award. In 2002, GE acquired the wind power assets of Enron Wind, which at the time was the only surviving U.S. manufacturer of large wind turbines. This purchase, by a widely respected company, helped legitimize wind energy as a serious business. Since that acquisition, GE has continued to roll out important technological advances that have yielded massive cost reductions for wind power, including a 67 percent decrease in levelized costs over the past 8 years. It has also played a significant role in helping to finance growth in the sector. During his acceptance remarks, David Nason, Chief Executive Officer of GE Energy Financial Services highlighted the company’s significant contributions to U.S. renewables. “GE is committed to both financing and investing in the energy space. We’ve done over $15 billion of investments since we began investing in it in 2004. In just 2017 alone, we have closed tax equity investments for over 1.4 gigawatts. Of course, GE speaks for more than just the financial side, we are one of the leading innovators when it comes to energy investing. We just invested $400 million to develop the largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine, which has a 200-meter rotor and will produce 45 percent more energy than the largest turbine in the world right now.”

We thank all the attendees and table sponsors that made the Gala possible and applaud these policy champions and leading business for their commitment to accelerating the transition to a renewable energy economy.