Wind, Solar Advocate Picks Up Heinz Award

John Davis

thomas-smithA man called “one of the most effective renewable energy advocates in Texas” is being honored with an award that has a focus this year on the environment.

Thomas “Smitty” Smith… known for his work in putting together the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that is now being adopted all across the country and has made Texas a leader in wind energy creation, as well as putting it on the path to lead in solar energy… has been honored as a recipient of a Heinz Award and will receive a $100,000 prize:

Since 1985, Mr. Smith has served as director of the Texas office of Public Citizen, a consumer and environmental group active in areas concerning energy, environment and other socio-economic issues. His efforts in passing the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), his work on expanding solar energy generation and the passage of the RPS are three of his most noteworthy accomplishments…

Mr. Smith co-founded Solar Austin, a program that advocates for the use of solar power to accelerate the city’s transition to clean, renewable energy. As a result of organizing citizens and collaborating with city council and Austin Energy executives, the city’s electric utility set a goal of 100 MW for the installation of solar energy by 2020 which was the largest in nation at that time and offered the highest incentives in the country for installing solar panels on customers’ homes. In addition, Austin Energy is planning a photovoltaic solar power plant that would be the largest installation of tracking solar photovoltaic panels the United States. Largely due to his efforts to garner support for the legislation in 1999 and 2005, Texas has become the nation’s leader in installed wind energy. As a result, over 9,000 people have been employed building wind plants.

Said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation: “When we hear “Texas,” we don’t think renewable energy. We think oil-refineries and wells. But thanks to Heinz Award recipient Thomas Smith, the Lone Star state is leading the way in both energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy like wind and solar.

Smith joins nine other award recipients in the 15th annual version of the awards named for the later Senator John Heinz.

Solar, Wind