Our Mission & History
The Wind Solar Alliance (WSA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to renewable energy as a means of strengthening the U.S. economy and reducing the environmental impacts of our energy use. WSA uses research, communications, and advocacy to raise awareness of the benefits of renewable energy and the need for energy and infrastructure policies that recognize and reward those benefits.
WSA was launched by wind energy leaders in 2010 as the Wind Energy Foundation. In 2014, the organization launched its A Renewable America campaign in partnership with leaders from the wind and solar industries. Since then, the campaign has worked in support of a host of key federal and state policy initiatives, such as the 2015 extensions of the federal Production and Investment Tax Credits, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the 2016 update of Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard.
John Kostyack arrived at the Wind Solar Alliance (WSA) to serve as its Executive Director in September 2014. Since then, he has worked with the WSA board of directors and a team of staff and consultants to craft a strategy for accelerating renewable energy deployment in the U.S. During his tenure, WSA has recruited, trained and activated hundreds of inspiring people from the companies that develop, build, operate and buy power from renewable energy projects as well as those from the communities that most directly benefit from the resulting jobs and economic development.
John is an attorney with roughly 30 years of experience in the government, private, and nonprofit sectors. Before arriving at WEF, Kostyack worked for 20 years at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) at the nexus of climate change, energy, and wildlife conservation policy. While serving as Vice President at the NWF, Kostyack helped develop and lead a host of policy advocacy campaigns. Among other things, he worked closely with reinsurance industry leaders and others to advance nature-friendly solutions for communities grappling with climate change impacts. He also served on the board of directors of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, working with wind industry leaders and others to find responsible ways to site and operate wind turbines.
In previous posts at the NWF, Kostyack conceived and led the first national conference on climate-smart conservation and helped establish NWF as a recognized leader in that field. He oversaw NWF’s wildlife advocacy before Congress, the federal agencies and the courts, became a well-known expert on endangered species policy, and helped to win Congressional enactment of federal tax incentives for landowners contributing to recovery of endangered species. John also won several landmark cases enforcing wildlife and wetlands protection law, and represented wildlife conservation groups in Massachusetts vs. EPA, the first-ever global warming case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Charles Harper joined the Wind Solar Alliance as the Program Associate in 2018. Prior to joining WSA, he interned with organizations including the State Department’s climate office, the energy office of the Center for American Progress, and the New York State Assembly.
Harper graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and Political Science.
Kevin O’Rourke joined the Wind Solar Alliance as the Director of Public Affairs in 2016, after serving as a consultant on the A Renewable America campaign since its inception in the fall of 2013. Kevin is an attorney with significant public affairs experience, having previously consulted for the American Wind Energy Association, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Ceres, Climate Nexus, the Solar Foundation, and other leading clean energy and environmental organizations.
Prior to consulting in D.C., O’Rourke was a legislative assistant at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. O’Rourke is a graduate of Vermont Law School.
Our Extended Team
Colin Delany is the lead consultant on WSA’s Electric Nation: Powered by Wind campaign and is a twenty-year veteran of internet politics, a digital strategist, the founder/editor of Epolitics.com (an award-winning website that focuses on the tools and tactics of online politics and digital advocacy) and a columnist for Campaigns & Elections. Delany is a sought-after speaker on topics related to digital advocacy, social media, online communications and internet politics. He has given presentations at conferences from South by Southwest Interactive to Netroots Nation and at universities including Harvard and the London School of Economics. He was also honored as one of “Ten Who Are Changing the World of Politics and the Internet” at the 2010 World E-Gov Forum in Paris. Before starting his strategy practice, Delany worked in Texas Legislature, participated in the Dot-Com Boom and served as the online communications director at both the National Environmental Trust and the National Women’s Law Center.
David Gardiner and Associates (DGA) is a strategic advisory firm focused on climate change, clean energy, and sustainability. DGA helps clients develop their strategies, conduct research and analysis, and improve their communications through writing expertise, partnership building, and advocacy. DGA has worked extensively with the Wind Solar Alliance on strategic planning, communications campaigns, and research and reports, including the recent report Transmission Upgrades and Expansion: Keys to Meeting Large Customer Demand for Renewable Energy,as well as a corporate sign-on letter to FERC and the A Renewable America Campaign. Other clients include non-profit advocacy organizations, foundations, trade associations, clean energy companies, and corporations committed to sustainability.
Grid Strategies LLC is a strategic consulting and advocacy firm helping clients with the integration of clean energy into the electric grid. Rob Gramlich and Michael Goggin draw on their extensive experience to analyze, research, and advocate grid integration solutions. Based in the Washington DC area, they engage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Department of Energy, state Public Utility Commissions, Regional Transmission Organizations, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Congressional committees, the administration, and various stakeholders. Grid Strategies is the lead consultant on a forthcoming market design report for WSA.
Innovant Public Relations works with clients who represent the full spectrum of a clean energy economy. Using integrated marketing strategies, Innovant Public Relations offers branding, web development, media relations, social media, community outreach, and event planning services. Innovant PR’s principals are known for bringing together public outreach, permitting strategy, and issue-specific messaging while maintaining a keen appreciation of landowner and community relationships.
Innovant Public Relations was hired by the Wind Solar Alliance to lead the external communications strategy and PR efforts around its rebrand and name change. Innovant Public Relations’ efforts included creating the new Wind Solar Alliance logo and associated brand elements, designing all new branded templates, developing the Wind Solar Alliance website from start to finish, supporting targeted stakeholder outreach, and leading media relations around the launch.
Robin Pressman, Principal at Pressman Consulting, manages the A Renewable America Jobs Tour for WSA and has consulted with the ARA campaign since 2014. Pressman has previously managed political campaigns, conducted polling and message development, designed and run field operations, planned and implemented issue advocacy programs and helped organizations set and meet goals.
Prior to opening Pressman Consulting, Robin Pressman served as Senior Associate at the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, (GQR). At GQR Pressman provided message development, targeting and polling expertise to dozens of campaigns, including Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. At GQR, Pressman also advised numerous non-profit clients such as the League of Conservation Voters, Oceana, and the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition. She previously served as field director for the National Environmental Trust and has also worked with issue groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and NARAL Pro-Choice America where she designed, managed, and conducted grassroots and political independent expenditure campaigns.
Founded in 1987, TXP, Inc. is an Austin, Texas based economic analysis and public policy consulting firm that crafts customized solutions to client problems. TXP regularly partners with urban planning, engineering, and public policy firms — as well as Ph.D.s in varying disciplines — to put together teams uniquely suited to its clients’ needs. TXP is producing a report for WSA’s A Renewable America campaign quantifying the economic benefits of wind and solar energy development in Texas.
Board of Directors
Doug’s 35 plus years of civil construction experience progressed through heavy equipment operator, Site Manager, Civil/Structural Estimator, Project Manager, Civil Division Director and Market Sector Leader VP. As the Executive Vice President for Blattner Energy, Doug focuses on aligning all operational activities including business development, client engagement, project procurement & fulfillment, personnel development and increasing the company’s financial performance. Doug earned his Industrial Management degree from Bemidji State University and started with Blattner Energy formally known as D.H. Blattner and Sons. Over the years, his experiences have included Heavy/Civil and Power projects across the US, Mexico, and Canada. During his tenure at Blattner he has had the opportunity to seek out and develop new market opportunities with success. His current position allows him the opportunity to assist other leaders in furthering Blattner’s great history by continuing to develop and hone its capabilities to deliver complex projects for its customers.
Sarah Webster is Vice President of Investor Relations, Government Relations and Corporate Communications for Pattern Energy Group Inc. (Pattern Energy) based in San Francisco, California. In her role, Sarah oversees a broad range of external affairs activities including investor relations, government relations at both the state and federal levels, and corporate communications which includes media, branding, community engagement and corporate social responsibility. Sarah has been with Pattern Energy since 2013 and enjoys the many opportunities her role creates for her and her team to build relationships with stakeholders and act as the diplomatic core for the company.
Sarah has worked in the energy sector for nearly twenty years, and prior to her role at Pattern Energy held positions with Winner and Associates, InterGen, Shell Oil Company, Great Point Energy, and Wind Capital Group. She has also worked as a music writer for the Houston Press.
On her own time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family, hiking in nature and listening to music.
Edward Zaelke chairs Akin Gump’s global project finance practice. Mr. Zaelke focuses his practice on project development and finance, with a particular emphasis on representing companies engaged in the development, financing and operation of wind power, solar power and other alternative energy projects. His clients include many of the top renewable energy developers and investors in the United States.
Company:Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP
Tom Kiernan began as CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in May, 2013. Prior to joining AWEA, Tom was President of the National Parks Conservation Association for 15 years growing it from 8 to 22 offices and overseeing a successful $125 million capital campaign. Previous positions include Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation where he assisted in leading the implementation of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, President of the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, and a senior consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. Tom is a native of Arlington, Va., has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Environmental Computer Modeling, and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Ty Daul serves as vice president of Canadian Solar’s energy project development business in the United States, Canada, and Latin America and President of Recurrent Energy Group. Recurrent Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar and functions as the company’s U.S. project development arm. With more than 28 years in the power generation industry, Ty has been integrally involved in over 5 GW of operating renewable projects and 870 MW of operating gas-fired projects representing nearly $8 billion of total investment.
Most recently, Ty served as senior vice president of the Americas for SunPower’s power plant business. In addition, he served on the board of 8point3 Energy Partners, the SunPower-First Solar publicly traded yieldco. Prior to joining SunPower, Ty cofounded Element Power in 2009 and oversaw the company’s wind and solar businesses in the Americas for five years.
A seasoned leader with an ability to execute complex transactions across diverse technologies and teams, Ty’s energy industry experience also includes seven years at PPM Energy (now Avangrid Renewables), a combined four years with Entergy’s unregulated power generation business and Newport Generation leading gas-fired generation development throughout the U.S., as well as seven years in engineering, marketing and business development roles with Westinghouse Electric’s global power generation group.
Ty also sits on the board of directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA from Texas A&M University.
Steve Irvin serves as Executive Vice President of EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) for the Central Region, which includes the central and southeastern United States and Mexico. Previously, Steve has served as Chief Commercial Officer responsible for both the Power Marketing and Origination and Market Operations Departments for EDPR NA.
During Steve’s 10+ years with EDPR NA he has overseen the successful negotiation and execution of over 3,500 MWs of power purchase agreements, and the successful development of over 1,250 MWs of projects now in operation or construction. Prior to joining EDPR NA, then Horizon Wind Energy, in 2005, Steve served as Vice President at Enron North America, where he worked on settling commodity trading contracts and on the greenfield development, construction and financing of energy assets in Mexico. Steve received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 1990 and a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird – The Garvin School of International Management in 1997.
EDP Renewables North America LLC and its subsidiaries develop, construct, own and operate wind farms throughout North America. Based in Houston, Texas, EDPR NA is owned by EDP Renewables, a global leader in the renewable energy sector. With a sound development pipeline, first class assets and market-leading operating capacity, EDPR NA has undergone exceptional development in recent years.
Company:EDP Renewables North America
Kevin A. Lynch heads the External Affairs group for Avangrid Renewables which is responsible for the company’s work on legislation, regulatory matters, communications, and marketing. Kevin joined predecessor company, PPM Energy, on a full-time basis in June, 2006 at its Portland, Oregon headquarters after a 15-year career in federal, state, and local public policy and external affairs at PacifiCorp. Kevin also spent nearly 10 years working for two members of the US House of Representatives, US Rep. Les AuCoin, D-OR (1985-1991), and US Rep. William Ratchford, D-CT (1981-1984). Kevin served eight of these years as the Representatives’ staff to the Committee on Appropriations, focusing on natural resource, public lands, Native American, energy, and arts and humanities issues.
Kevin serves on the Boards of the Interwest Energy Alliance (Board Chair), the Colorado Independent Energy Association, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology (Secretary/Treasurer), the Clean Power Campaign, and the Independent Energy Producers of California (Board Chair). He co-chairs the State Policy Committee of the American Wind Energy Association.
Dr. Walker was present when the first utility-scale wind turbines were installed in California, walking the hills to scout for the best locations. He’s been a trailblazer and a leader for the industry ever since. He is author of what’s been termed by industry insiders as the “Walker Curve,” an analysis he authored finding the U.S. leads the world in wind energy production.
“America is blessed with outstanding wind resources. We invented utility-scale wind farms, and by investing in building and fine-tuning them here in the U.S., we now have some of the best infrastructure ever built in this country,” Dr. Walker recently said in commenting on the analysis.
Dr. Walker is well-positioned to talk about the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Vision report after filling a key role in the George W. Bush-era’s DOE 2008 report, “20% by 2030: Increasing wind energy’s contribution to the U.S. electricity supply.”
He has been on the Board of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) since May, 2005 and is Past President of AWEA. He was named “Industry Person of the Year” at AWEA’s national convention in June 2007. In 2014, he was named Women of Wind Energy Champion.
Dr. Walker currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of EDF Renewable Energy. He served as CEO from October 2002 until March 2005 and was subsequently responsible for management of the company’s portfolio of over $1 billion of operating wind projects. EDF Renewable Energy is a leading developer, owner and operator of wind projects and is wholly owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles.
He has served in both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations by working for the Office Budget and Management (OMB) in both the Nixon and Ford administrations, and spent 8 years at the California Energy Commission in the Jerry Brown administrations, serving as Executive Director, Commissioner and Vice Chairman.
He has a BA in Physics from Princeton University and a Doctorate from Harvard Business School.
Company:EDF Renewable Energy
:Jim Walker's term ends 12-13-18
Virinder has worked in the U.S. renewables industry for over 20 years. Since 2010, Virinder has served as Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at EDF Renewables, a leading North American renewable energy development company and O&M provider in solar, wind and energy storage. As head of EDFR’s U.S. government affairs, Virinder’s work has covered a wide range of technologies including wind, solar, biogas, and energy storage, and is responsible for federal affairs and state-level policy. His work includes broad market policies and critical path issues for specific EDFR projects, and covers demand-driving policies, procurement rules, tax issues, transmission and distribution grid policy, siting policy, and other foundational issues for EDFR’s success today and tomorrow.
While at EDFR, Virinder has played an essential role in numerous clean energy industry accomplishments, such as major demand-side policies in Oregon, California and New York, consensus-based renewables tax policy in Kansas, and FERC’s 2013 modernization of small generator interconnection requirements.
Further back in time, and while at Pacificorp, Virinder was central to the six-state utility’s planning efforts that resulted in 1,400 MW of renewable energy in the Northwest, Wyoming and Utah. He also contributed to its pioneering valuation of greenhouse gas regulatory risk in utility resource planning, and ran analysis for the utility’s first comprehensive climate change strategy. He authored the Western Governors Association resolution that created the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS) renewable energy certificate tracking system that is indispensable for state renewable standards and voluntary renewable energy investments.
He has also worked on commercial items such as site acquisition for greenfield wind development, RFP design for renewables procurement, bid evaluation into renewable RFPs, PURPA implementation, and energy service contracting to take into account environmental attributes.
He chairs AWEA’s State Policy Committee and did the same at SEIA for 3 years. He is also on the boards of the Interwest Energy Alliance and Renewable Northwest and represents EDFR on the Board of the Independent Energy Producers Association of California as well as the national Energy Storage Association’s Leadership Circle. He is aide and alternate to EDFR’s Boardmembers Tristan Grimbert and Ryan Pfaff at AWEA and SEIA, respectively.
:Virinder Signh’s term begins 1-1-19
As Director of Energy Supply for Altenex, an Edison Energy company, Emily Williams oversees the Altenex marketplace, building and growing relationships with renewable energy developers, and connecting Altenex clients with renewable energy projects. Altenex is the energy management network that Fortune 1000 companies, universities, and municipalities use to source clean power for their power portfolios. To date, Altenex has helped its clients find, negotiate, and execute over 1,400 MW of wind and solar deals across the United States and Mexico.
Emily heads the Energy Supply team which supports Altenex clients with market intelligence, project and developer updates, negotiation support, and analytical assessments of renewable energy projects. Emily also leads state and federal policy initiatives, tracking the impact of policy changes on corporate buyers.
Prior to Altenex, Emily served as Deputy Director, Industry Data and Analysis at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA.) She managed AWEA’s data collection and analytic agenda, including energy sector statistics, wind project and manufacturing databases, jobs, and market forecasts. Emily also provided analytical support for AWEA’s legislative and regulatory agenda including the Production Tax Credit, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and Climate Change Regulations through data collection, policy analysis and recommendations. She also spent several years in Europe working on nuclear non-proliferation and international security.
Emily received her BA/BS in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science at the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign and an MA in Science and Security from King’s College London.
Steve is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, VA. A strategic communications professional, Steve has more than 25 years of experience in political, policy, corporate and institutional non-profit communications, including 15 years in the District of Columbia. He has served in communications capacities in trade associations, issue coalitions and lobbying firms, in support of issues related to energy, software and information technology, electronic commerce, global development and trade, and others.
His career began in the press office of the Republican National Committee and has also spanned organizations from the Brookings Institution to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Committee. Notably, Steve created and led the execution of the global communications strategy for Microsoft’s flagship $750 million education technology program providing resources for educators and administrators across 114 nations. He lives on a farm in Esmont, Virginia with his wife and two children, and has served on the governing boards of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, Piedmont CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), and the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area.
Company:Apex Clean Energy
Tom Starrs serves as SunPower Corporation’s vice president, market strategy and policy, where he is responsible for the company’s global market assessment, market strategy and public policy initiatives. He has more than 20 years of experience in and around the solar power industry, including senior management positions with Iberdrola Renewables, PPM Energy, and Schott Solar. Starrs is widely recognized as a leading strategist on solar energy market development, business strategy and policy. He serves on the boards of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, the Smart Electric Power Alliance, and is the board chair for the Solar Energy Industries Association. Tom holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Program, and a J.D. from the University of California Berkeley’s School of Law.
Abby L. Watson
Abby Watson leads government and institutional relations for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in North America, covering policy and regulatory issues in all fifty states and Canada. For over ten years, Abby has worked with almost every type of renewable energy from nearly every perspective – development, construction, risk management, project management, manufacturing, sales, and policy. In her seven years’ experience at Gamesa, prior to the merger with Siemens, she moved from managing landowner relationships during development, to the sale of spare parts in support of its non-warranty fleet, and finally took a role leading government relations after completing a degree in Energy and Sustainability Policy at Penn State University.
As Head of Government Affairs, Abby manages strategic planning for government and institutional relationships, maintaining a close dialogue with the business development function for both the onshore and offshore business units, while also taking a hands-on role with state policy issues and regional Corporate Social Responsibility leadership.
Company:Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
Jim Howell is Chief Development Officer (CDO) of sPower. He joined sPower in 2013 when the company merged with Silverado Power, and has nearly a decade of experience in renewable energy development, PPA structuring and project development. Howell’s innovative strategies were credited with standardizing best practices that drove down power purchase agreement (PPA) prices in the Western US while maintaining above average project yields.
As CDO, Howell is responsible for sPower’s strategic vision and market entry, greenfield and project merger and acquisition activities, power marketing efforts, and the comprehensive project development process. He is also responsible for driving sPower’s evolution into the traditional power markets by offering unique (and financeable) structures typically only offered by conventional resources through the use of derivatives, bespoke structures and other proprietary tools developed in-house by sPower. sPower has signed approximately 3 gigawatts of PPAs during this time and operates one of the largest solar and wind fleets in the industry.
Kevin Gresham, VP Government Relations & External Affairs for E.ON North America, LLC, has extensive electric industry experience. Gresham directs E.ON’s governmental relations, federal and state regulatory activities, and public affairs across North America. He recently served on the United States Department of Commerce’s Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee and serves on the ERCOT Board of Directors representing the Independent Generator Segment. In addition, he serves as Vice Chair of the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Federal Affairs Committee, on The Wind Coalition’s Executive Committee, and participates in the American Wind Energy Association’s legislative, public affairs, and transmission committees. Gresham also serves on the North American Generator Forum Board of Directors. Prior to joining E.ON, he was Director of RTO Policy for RRI Energy where he was involved in PJM, MISO, California, and the West.
Colin Meehan manages U.S. state legislative, regulatory, and executive energy policy for First Solar. Headquartered in Tempe, AZ, First Solar is the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar PV modules with over 17,000 MW of modules installed globally. In Colin’s role he focuses on enabling First Solar’s vision of leading the world’s sustainable energy future through advanced solar technologies and capabilities. Colin currently serves as Chair of the Large-scale Solar Association and on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
In over 15 years working on energy policy Colin has lead Comverge, Inc.’s demand response regulatory and market strategy throughout several states; served as Environmental Defense Fund’s Policy Manager for U.S. Climate and Energy; and as Wholesale Settlement Analyst for the Lower Colorado River Authority focusing on ERCOT nodal market implementation.
Mr. Meehan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Math and Economics from the University of Rochester and a Master of Science degree in Energy and Earth Resources from the University of Texas at Austin.
For 30 years, Dan Shugar has helped advance renewable energy in the U.S. and around the globe. As Founder and CEO of NEXTracker, Dan brings together solar expertise and technology innovation in a way few technology leaders can. In five short years, he created a solar start-up in the Balance of Systems (BOS) manufacturing segment and drove a successful acquisition with investment grade component manufacturer, Flex. Since founding NEXTracker, the Company has held global market share leadership for three consecutive years and has sold over 14 GW of products and services on six continents. Prior to NEXTracker, he grew Solaria Corporation’s annual revenue five times over a three year period. Well-known for his leadership as president of SunPower Corporation and president of Powerlight, he surrounds himself with passionate, tech-savvy, clean energy-driven executive teams who share his mission to make solar a mainstream energy source. From Central California to the Atacama Desert of Chile, there isn’t a solar power plant Dan doesn’t know about or has worked to develop. He holds multiple U.S. patents and has published over 50 technical papers.
Dan Shugar has delighted and inspired audiences at over 100s of events, keynotes and technical panels. Some notable venues include: Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit 2018, FORTUNE Brainstorm E 2015, the MIT Energy Conference, Solar Power International, Intersolar, Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI) Solar Week Conference, Greentech Media Solar Market Insight, Solar Power Finance and Investment Summit, Photovoltaics Summit, PV USA, Cleantech Open West, and Commonwealth Club’s Climate One, among many others.
Mr. Shugar holds a BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University. If asked of his most coveted achievement, he would most likely mention the six years he served as a Board Member of the Sierra Club where we worked on the Beyond Coal Campaign. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), and The Solar Foundation (TSF).
Mark Ahlstrom is the President of the Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG, formerly known as the Utility Variable-Generation Integration Group or UVIG), a non-profit educational association that provides resources and education to the engineers, researchers, technologists, and policymakers for our evolving electricity and integrated energy systems. Ahlstrom also serves as Vice President of Renewable Energy Policy for NextEra Energy Resources and WindLogics, NextEra’s subsidiary known for meteorology, energy analytics, and renewable energy integration. NextEra is North America’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Ahlstrom is particularly interested in the integration of variable generation into power systems and energy markets. He is actively involved at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and many activities across North America to support the economic and reliable use of higher levels of clean energy. Ahlstrom is serving as a Board Advisor in his capacity as President of ESIG.
Caton Fenz is Chief Development Officer at ConnectGen LLC, a renewable energy development platform established by Quantum Energy Partners. Fenz has over two decades of experience in renewable energy and public policy. Before joining ConnectGen, Fenz served as Vice President of Development for Calpine, one of the country’s largest generators of electricity, and as Director of Project Management and Director of Development at EDP Renewables North America. He has also worked for McKinsey & Co., the Texas State Legislature, and serves on the Board of Directors of Houston’s Midtown Redevelopment Authority. Fenz holds an MA and BA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Letter from the Executive Director
Climate change is perhaps the most significant threat to the livelihoods and quality of life of people everywhere. A natural response to the steady drumbeat of news about the growing calamity is to feel hopeless, but there is good reason for hope. In the past few decades, we have made dramatic progress developing and deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency technology. Today, we have mature industries ready to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change by transitioning our economy away from fossil-based sources of energy. Although additional research and development is certainly needed, enormous progress in the fight against climate change can be achieved simply by accelerating deployment of the proven, affordable, low-carbon technologies we already have.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to lead the Wind Solar Alliance (WSA) because WSA focuses on accelerating deployment of the two lowest-cost, zero-emission renewable energy technologies in the U.S. – wind and solar energy. Wind and solar are well-positioned to power not just today’s electricity system but, as the U.S. continues to electrify its transportation and buildings, they will help ensure that new demand for electricity is met by emissions-free sources.
For those passionate about fighting climate change, perhaps the most exciting news in recent years has been the dramatic cost declines of wind and solar. Thus, even without considering the economic benefits of pollution reduction and water savings, new wind and solar projects can outcompete other energy sources on cost in many places. As technology continues to improve, the already-low costs of deploying wind and solar will continue their steady decline, making these technologies by far the cheapest available. Demand for wind and solar will almost certainly increase, since Fortune 100 companies and other electricity consumers love the idea of helping public health and the environment all while saving money.
Given their advantages, it might be tempting to conclude that market forces alone will propel wind and solar forward and that policy advocacy is no longer necessary. This is not the case. As the graph below shows, under today’s policy framework (“business as usual”) the U.S. wind and solar industries are projected to build an average of 20 gigawatts (GW) of new projects each year over the next five years, a pace that is not nearly fast enough to meet U.S. climate goals. Under one recently produced scenario, the U.S. will need to build an average of nearly 39 GWs of new wind and solar each year until 2050 to meet those goals, and this can only happen if substantial changes are made to energy market rules, utility procurements, and transmission infrastructure. These rules, practices and infrastructure were put in place over the course of the 20th century and were largely designed to facilitate fossil-based sources of energy.
By producing and disseminating policy-relevant research, deploying industry leaders and other experts to communicate with decision makers, and inspiring and mobilizing the public, WSA is committed to deploying wind and solar at a pace sufficient to meet that ~39 GW annual target and maintain a healthy climate for future generations. We hope that you will join us in this work.