The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) announced the winners of their 2004 Innovation and Special Recognition Awards. The announcement was made at IREC’s Annual Meeting, a joint meeting with the Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roofs Partnerships.Portland, Oregon – August 11, 2004, [SolarAccess.com] Every year, IREC recognizes state and local governments, schools (K-12), non profits and community groups that have implemented innovative projects during the past year that promote and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies. This year, five awards were made to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), Public Citizen in Austin, Texas, Educators for the Environment, a division of The California Study, and James Madison University in Virginia. The awards were made at IREC’s 22nd Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, held prior to the start of the Solar 2004 Conference which has since wrapped up. This was the third year that IREC’s annual meeting was held jointly with the US Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roofs (MSR) Partnerships. Over 100 state officials, representatives from MSR partnerships, and State Chapters of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) attended this all-day meeting. While many of the partnerships, chapters and states deal with the frontline issues everyday, IREC works to provide solutions and strategies on some of the key barriers and issues that are faced by the renewable energy community such as ways to promote easy hook up to the electric grid, building a strong workforce, broader public awareness and understanding of solar and renewable energy technologies, stable policy incentives, and market acceptance. IREC’s Chairman Vicki Colello said to the group, “Without a doubt, there’s been an impressive amount of work going on and all of you deserve a lot of credit for your resolve and accomplishments. However, it is not only our individual successes that we should acknowledge. It is our collective progress that gives us the leading edge.” Information on the 2004 Innovation Award Winners: NYSERDA Power Naturally PV Training, Certification, Accreditation Programs Project Lead: New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) Through partnerships with the US Department of Energy, the New York State Solar Energy Industries Association, and SUNY Farmingdale, NYSERDA has been working over the past five years with industry stakeholders to develop a sustainable PV infrastructure in New York State. Their efforts have included more than 30 training and education workshops on topics ranging from certifying PV trainers to accrediting PV education programs. Certification of PV Installers Project Lead: North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) In 2003, NABCEP launched its voluntary national certification program for Solar PV Installers. This credential program was established through a rigorous process that included continual stakeholder and subject matter expert input and dialogue. The resulting outcome has been a non-discriminatory program with fair procedures following strict professional credentialing guidelines. There are now 106 NABCEP certified installers. Solar Austin Campaign Project Lead: Public Citizen Through advocacy efforts, the Solar Austin Campaign, a coalition of non-profits, businesses and citizens promoting renewable energy in Austin, Texas, encouraged the creation of an energy efficiency-friendly Strategic Plan for the municipal utility, Austin Energy. This plan includes an RPS of 20% of the city’s energy from renewables by 2020 as well as solar rebates, a city-based solar valuation study and global warming goals that support the reduction of CO2 from power sector emissions. Energy for Keeps: Electricity from Renewable Energy Project Lead: Educators for the Environment, a division of The California Study Energy for Keeps is a free, 233-page 6th -12th grade teacher guide/textbook and website about renewable energy published in November of 2003 with funding primarily from the California Energy Commission. This multidisciplinary approach covers all renewables as well as a review of conventional energy technologies. In March 2004, the book was downloaded over 2000 times. Renewable Energy Activities in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT), Energy Sector Project Lead: James Madison University Classes in James Madison University’s ISAT program place heavy emphasis on experimental learning and teamwork and include hands on studies in solar thermal, PV, small and large-scale wind power, fuel cells and alternative fuel vehicles. The program is designed to promote an integrated “real world” view of renewables by mixing technical, economic, policy, business decision-making, and other personal and professional skills into an active learning environment.