California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) Executive Director Nancy Rader has released the following statement concerning the death of Harold ‘Hal’ Romanowitz, 1933-2014:
It is with deep sadness that I share with you the passing of Hal Romanowitz in the early morning hours of Aug. 9 at the UCSF Medical Center after a sudden and brief battle with cancer.
Hal was one of California's wind energy pioneers, widely known in the wind energy and electricity industries. Beyond his considerable technical, financial and strategic capabilities, Hal is being remembered by colleagues for his relentless optimism in the face of any obstacle, his boundless energy and enthusiasm, his good cheer and humility, and his kind treatment of friends and adversaries alike. He was a long-time mentor and friend to many, whose passion and vision made him a giant in the wind energy industry.
Hal played a key leadership role in the expansion of the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area and associated transmission system, now a cornerstone in the achievement of California's renewable energy goals. Hal was instrumental in resolving conflicts between military operations and wind energy development in Kern County, another difficult but necessary step in tapping Tehachapi's tremendous wind energy potential. Most recently, Hal focused on combining renewable energy and energy storage as a cost-effective means of supporting the achievement of California's ambitious longer-term greenhouse-gas-reduction goals.
In recognition of his achievements, Hal was honored with the American Wind Energy Association's Technical Achievement Award in 1991 and its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2009, the Utility Wind Interest Group bestowed on him its Transmission Achievement Award. Hal served on the AWEA Board of Directors from 2005 until 2011 and had been serving on the board of the California Wind Energy Association, an organization that he dedicated himself to for the past decade. Hal also served as president of the Kern Wind Energy Association for several years.
After graduating with a BSEE from Purdue University and obtaining an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, Hal began his career at General Electric in the area of complex electrical equipment manufacturing. He went on to run his own businesses focused on large-scale electrical and control systems for everything from ski lifts to ship propulsion systems to the then-largest robots in the world used to offload ships. His work also included innovative, high-efficiency municipal water pumping systems.
After making an investment in Oak Creek Energy Systems' Tehachapi wind energy site in 1985, he was tapped to conduct a turn-around of this pioneer wind farm, and was recognized for his innovations in doing so. He went on to serve as the company's president and COO/CTO from 1994 through 2011. In 2012, Hal formed Alton Energy Inc. to create low-cost, clean and reliable energy solutions, with a focus on large-scale energy storage.
Hal is survived by his wife Peggy of nearly 58 years; son Ted Romanowitz of Wilsonville, Ore.; daughter Annie Hansen of Burlingame, Calif.; sister Cathy Kreis of Kingman, Ariz.; brother Charlie Romanowitz of Antioch, Calif.; and grandchildren Jacob and Emma Romanowitz, and Calvin and Peri Hansen.