American Wind Energy Association Names New CEO

American Wind Energy Association Names New CEO

By unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today announced that Tom Kiernan has been named as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Kiernan has served as President of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) since 1998. On May 28, he will officially take the helm at AWEA, the national trade association representing American wind power interests and over 1,200 companies across the U.S. and around the world.

The announcement was made by the Chair of AWEA’s Board of Directors, Tom Carnahan. “Bringing Tom Kiernan aboard as CEO represents a huge win for AWEA and another step forward in our efforts to elevate wind energy’s role as a critical national resource,” said Carnahan.


“Tom brings the right combination of bipartisan, practical experience at the national and state levels as well as in small, rural communities where wind energy is most often developed. His respected management style and significant executive abilities, combined with his skills as a communicator, will ensure that AWEA’s voice and potential are leveraged not only in Washington but, even more importantly, in the communities in which our members operate,” Carnahan said.


Kiernan commented: “I am honored and excited to take on this role at such a critical time in our nation’s history. With wind energy building over 40 percent of new electrical generation in the U.S. last year, the massive public support for more renewable energy, and the recent extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) by Congress and the President, we have a unique opportunity to work together to make wind energy a more integral part of our national energy portfolio.”


The PTC is an effective tool to keep electricity rates low and encourage development of proven renewable energy products. Equipped with the PTC (and an alternative Investment Tax Credit used by community and offshore developers), the U.S. industry has been able to lower the cost of American wind power by more than 90 percent since 1990. Wind energy now generates enough electricity for over 15 million American homes. It fosters economic development with wind farms or factories in all 50 states, and was responsible for $25 billion of private investment in the U.S. economy last year.


“I look forward to working within the wind industry and with our many partners and supporters to craft a long-term strategy that creates healthy and consistent wind energy production in the United States,” Kiernan stated. “Implementing such a strategy will create jobs in our communities, strengthen our national economy, help address climate change, and diversify our energy portfolio with a low-cost source of power that will never run out.”


Christie Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), commented on his appointment: “I have known Tom Kiernan for many years and know that he will be a great leader for AWEA. We will miss him at NPCA.”


Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) also indicated his support: “Tom is a proven and passionate leader, and will be a great addition to AWEA.”


And former Congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA) also commented: “Tom Kiernan has done an incredible job at NPCA, and I am confident he will do an even greater job with AWEA.”


During Kiernan’s tenure, NPCA increased its members and supporters from 300,000 to over 800,000, its field program from 7 to 23 offices, and its net assets from under $5 million to over $60 million. “Tom Kiernan does a great job of marrying policy and business and will thus be a very effective leader for AWEA,” said Cathy Zoi, Chief Strategy Officer at C3 Energy and former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Efficiency and Renewables.



Before heading NPCA, Kiernan served as President of the Audubon Society of New Hampshire and was a senior-level official in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation under President George H.W. Bush, where he won the Gold Medal for his role in achieving consensus with businesses and environmentalists on a $450-million pollution-control project at Grand Canyon National Park. He has also held positions with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and with Arthur Andersen & Company.



Former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne commented: “I have known Tom Kiernan for years. Tom works hard for causes he believes in. By choosing Tom as their CEO, the American Wind Energy Association successfully recruited an effective advocate who will advance their clean power agenda.”


In 10 days Kiernan will attend AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, May 5-8, and help welcome AWEA members, exhibitors and speakers from throughout the industry and around the world. Kiernan will address the industry during the General Session, which begins at 8:30 am on Monday, May 6.


Press release, April 25, 2013; Image: AWEA