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News > White House honors energy-saving veterans for innovations
White House honors energy-saving veterans for innovations

Posted 11/6/2013   Updated 11/6/2013 Email story   Print story


by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

11/6/2013 - WASHINGTON -- As Veterans Day nears, 12 military veterans were honored for their achievements in advancing clean energy and climate security at a White House event Nov. 5.

The celebration honored these "champions of change," who perform "extraordinary work" to advance clean energy and increase climate resilience and preparedness in their communities, White House officials said in a statement. Following military duty, the statement continued, the 12 veterans continued to use their specialized skills and experiences to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy, made communities more resilient to climate change effects and improved national energy security.

It is appropriate to recognize the 12 innovators as Veterans Day approaches, said Sharon E. Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, and to honor the veterans who "came home and turned their hands to the hard business of building peace."

Many veterans see a strong link between their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and their commitment to energy security, Burke said.

"Every military mission from combat to disaster relief ultimately requires two things: good people and lots of energy," she added. "People must have the skills, training and judgment to do the job well, but a steady supply of energy for military ships, planes, tanks, computers and radios is also necessary."

Everything needs fuel, batteries or electricity to work, Burke noted.

"As civilians, you've connected the dots," she said to the 12 veterans being honored. "You're doing something about it. You've recognized that the energy security challenge we face in our military operations is akin [to] the energy challenge we face at home in our civilian lives, and that's why I understand a lot of you are promoting a clean energy transition for this country. It's a hard problem to solve, but if anyone's going to do it, it will be all of you."

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities, officials said.

This year's honorees are:

-- Dave Belote, vice president for federal business for Apex Clean Energy, Virginia Beach, Va. Belote's company delivers clean, renewable power to federal customers and promotes renewable energy solutions on military bases, public lands and the outer continental shelf. An Air Force veteran, Belote also was the first executive director of the Defense Department's Siting Clearinghouse, where he built a one-stop shop for industry to work with federal, state and local government agencies to ensure that utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects were compatible with military operations and installations.

-- Adam Cote, chief executive officer and co-founder of Thermal Energy Storage of Maine, in Sanford, Maine. Cote's company provides Maine families with affordable home-heating solutions and enhances state energy independence by promoting electric thermal storage heating systems, which allow residential, business and industrial customers to heat their homes and businesses with lower-cost, off-peak electricity. Cote is currently active duty and serves in Afghanistan with the Maine Army National Guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion.

-- Robin Eckstein of Appleton, Wis., a combat-disabled Army veteran, experienced the real cost of fossil fuel use in the U.S. military while serving in Iraq. In 2009, she joined Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security agencies campaigning for comprehensive clean energy reform. She advocated for clean energy and climate security at hundreds of events. She helped to bring a new voice to the climate change debate by giving firsthand accounts of her time in Iraq, and discussing how clean energy and climate change affects American soldiers at war on a personal level.

-- Phillip Green, president and founder of Green Powered Technology, Falls Church, Va. Green's company is a full-service energy engineering firm that provides a single point for businesses, governments, and organizations to achieve economic, environmental and social significance through sustainable energy. It also supports Power Africa, a presidential initiative to improve access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa, and analyzes implications of Northeast Asia's investment in renewable energy on U.S. national security. Green is an Army veteran and served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

-- Avi Jacobson, senior sustainable energy coordinator for the Washington State Housing Finance Commission in Seattle. Jacobson develops and implements the commission's sustainable energy program, manages its sustainable energy trust and acts as the commission's legislative liaison for energy policy at local and federal levels to promote policies supporting private investment in the clean technology sector. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

-- Kevin Johnson, senior manager of mergers and acquisitions for Acciona Energy North America in Chicago. Johnson manages Acciona's federal market team, which works closely with the Defense Department to achieve DOD's goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Acciona is one of the world's leading owners of renewable energy power plants, with more than 8,000 megawatts in operation. Johnson was an Army captain and served to Iraq in 2004 with the 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment.

-- Joseph Knott, director of military partnerships for Compatible Lands Foundation in Phoenix. A nonprofit organization, Knott's company specializes in innovative conservation partnerships with DOD. Under his direction, he developed a first-of-its-kind partnership between federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academia, green investors and industry in creating DOD's first forest carbon project. Knott served 33 years in the Army, and managed the service's sustainability and energy programs.

-- Joseph Kopser, chief executive officer and co-founder of RideScout in Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. RideScout is a start-up smartphone application that helps transportation efficiency by getting people to use public, commercial and private transportation. A U.S. Military Academy graduate, Kopser retired from the Army this year. He also is a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow at the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he focuses on energy policy, and he serves on the board of directors at the CleanTX Foundation.

-- Nat Kreamer, president and chief executive officer of Clean Power Finance in San Francisco. Kreamer's company is a leading software and financial services provider to the U.S. solar industry. He serves on Clean Power Finance's board of directors and is the vice chairman of the board of directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the largest solar trade organization in the nation. Kreamer returned home from Afghanistan in 2006 as a Navy officer with the Joint Special Operations Command. He wanted to repower America with clean, affordable domestic energy, and turned his idea of solar financing into co-founding SunRun as it became a leading provider of residential solar financing. With his first residential solar power purchase agreement in 2007, he helped to kickstart a multi-billion-dollar residential solar financing industry, which created several thousands of domestic jobs and helped hundreds of thousands of Americans save money with clean, affordable domestic energy.

-- Andrea Marr, a commissioning engineer for McKinstry in Costa Mesa, Calif. Marr advises large institutions on energy efficiency strategies. She previously worked for a small nonprofit organization in Nicaragua, designing and installing wind turbines and solar panels in rural communities without access to the national electric grid. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Marr was a gunnery officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom for two deployments, and a nuclear engineering officer for a third.

-- Elizabeth Perez-Halperin, president and founder of GC Green in Vista, Calif., a green-building general contracting and consulting firm, which broadens the green economy's outreach and impact by promoting education, training, apprenticeship and project placement opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for veterans and others. Since 2010, GC Green has trained more than 1,300 people in renewable energy, has taught entrepreneurship skills, and has provided clean technology industry job placement assistance. Perez-Halperin served in the Navy for more than eight years as an aviation logistics specialist and is a wounded warrior veteran.

-- Drew Sloan, sales executive for Opower in Washington, D.C., works with utilities to give customers insight into energy use so they can make smarter, efficient energy choices that ultimately drive down overall energy demand. Opower's work has led to about 4.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emission reductions and has saved customers more than $333 million on their energy bills. Sloan was an Army officer and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Editor's note: This article does not imply federal endorsement of any private organization or company.

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