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US Wind Energy Foundation Rebrands As Wind Solar Alliance

The United States’ Wind Energy Foundation announced this week that it is rebranding to better represent an increased focus on wind and solar energy and will now be known as the Wind Solar Alliance, having also expanded its board of directors to include solar energy experts including two executives from NEXTracker and First Solar.

The United States’ Wind Energy Foundation announced this week that it is rebranding to better represent an increased focus on wind and solar energy and will now be known as the Wind Solar Alliance, having also expanded its board of directors to include solar energy experts including two executives from NEXTracker and First Solar.

Originally launched back in 2010 by US wind energy leaders, the Wind Energy Foundation was responsible for the A Renewable America campaign which it launched in 2014 in partnership with leaders from the wind and solar industries. The campaign has worked to support a variety of key federal and state policy initiatives, such as the 2015 extensions of the federal Production and Investment Tax Credits (ITC and PTC), the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the 2016 update to Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard.

As such, the Wind Energy Foundation’s decision to rebrand as the Wind Solar Alliance is simply a natural expansion of work the Foundation was already doing.

“Accelerating the deployment of wind and solar technologies is one of the fastest ways to mitigate climate change while strengthening the US economy,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of WSA. “The new name reflects our view that wind and solar industry leaders and other energy experts are stronger working together on this shared agenda than apart. Our coalition effort is now well-positioned to reform the U.S. electricity markets, as well as transmission and utility procurement planning processes, and thereby to rapidly scale these two technologies.”

Bolstering the renaming the Alliance has also brought in solar experts to sit on its Board of Directors including Dan Shugar, NEXTracker founder and CEO, and Colin Meehan, First Solar’s Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs. Other names to sit on the board include the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) CEO, Tom Kiernan, while Mark Alhstrom, President of the Energy Systems Integration Group and one of the nation’s leading experts on integrating renewable energy onto the electricity grid, serves as a board advisor.

“WSA’s Executive Director, John Kostyack, has done a great job in keeping ahead of an important trend toward increased coordination of wind and solar advocacy,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “The organization’s expanded vision will continue to complement AWEA’s education and advocacy efforts.”

“Transitioning our economy to one based primarily on renewable energy at a pace sufficient to meet our nation’s obligations to mitigate climate change is a daunting challenge,” John Kostyack explained to me via email when I asked him of the importance of renewable energy technologies working in tandem. “We can meet this challenge by accelerating the deployment of wind and solar, but only if we effectively educate decision makers and the public about the benefits of both wind and solar energy in the U.S. and win federal, state, and regional policy decisions that facilitate the expansion of these technologies. Effective education and advocacy start with ensuring that the two technologies are working together on a shared agenda, leveraging each other’s unique contributions and resources and avoiding duplication of effort.”

The Alliance will continue to remain focused on research, communication, and advocacy in an effort to raise renewable energy awareness. Through its A Renewable America campaign the Alliance will continue to work with the AWEA and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the two leading wind and solar energy trade associations.

“There are many areas where the wind and solar agendas align,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “We’ve seen great benefits from working with the wind advocates on federal, regional, and state policies on the “A Renewable America” campaign, and in other areas, over the past several years. We hope to continue to expand these meaningful efforts going forward, with support from the philanthropic community.”

When I asked John Kostyack what we could expect from the Wind Solar Alliance in the coming months, he explained that, “In the coming 6 to 18 months, the Wind Solar Alliance will focus on ensuring that the Independent System Operators and FERC create market rules that recognize and reward the cost savings, reliability and other benefits provided by wind and solar, as well as complementary technologies such as storage.

“We also will be working with utilities and Public Utility Commissions to ensure that these benefits are recognized in the context of resource planning and procurement,” Kostyack added. “Finally, we will be advocating for updating our nation’s transmission infrastructure to ensure that wind and solar resources can reach the many customers that are demanding low-cost clean energy.”

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