Tom Kiernan, the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) incoming CEO, took to the stage Monday morning to briefly greet attendees during the opening general session at WINDPOWER 2013, being held in Chicago through May 8.
AWEA recently named Kiernan to replace former CEO Denise Bode, who resigned in December 2012. Displaying a warm and enthusiastic smile during the opening session, Kiernan laid out in broad strokes some of his early priorities for when he takes over the post on May 28.
He told attendees that among his first tasks will be to develop a long-term strategy to further galvanize both the wind industry and AWEA. He also spelled out to attendees how they can be their own best advocates.
"With fewer legislative vehicles moving [in Congress], we need a better, more integrated advocacy plan, and that needs to be inclusive to all of you," he said.
Citing well-organized and -funded opponents, Kiernan called for the industry to develop a more diverse and broader coalition. He also said that AWEA would begin to devote more resources to its nine regional partners, which often perform key legislative advocacy at both the state and regional levels.
An Arlington, Va., native, Kiernan told attendees that leading a wind industry coalition, such as AWEA, is a natural continuation of his life's work: advocating for environment- and conservation-related causes.
Kiernan comes to AWEA after serving as president of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a post he held for 15 years. And although he may be new to AWEA, he's no stranger to wind energy. In fact, while at the NPCA, Kiernan joined other conservation groups that supported an extension of the production tax credit (PTC).
When Kiernan officially becomes CEO of AWEA, he will immediately face a laundry list of tasks, such as advocating for a national energy bill and ensuring that wind energy is accounted for during comprehensive tax reform.
During the post-session press conference, Kiernan reiterated that extending the PTC is again AWEA's top priority.