Tom Gray, former executive director of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) died Wednesday.
Tom was one of the US Wind industry’s stalwarts. He was the “go to man” for decades on US renewable energy policy, wind’s environmental benefits, and the role wind energy plays in mitigating climate change.
For many years Tom was the face and the voice of the wind industry in the United States as AWEA’s executive director. It’s safe to say that without Tom’s commitment AWEA wouldn’t exist today.
Tom was an effective tactician and his quick wit could often turn a tense situation to his—and the wind industry’s–advantage. He continued to support wind energy against the naysayers even in his retirement.
As a former congressional aide, Tom knew Congress and knew what made the men and women in it tick. This served him well when all seemed lost in the dark days of the Reagan administration when, like now, the administration and many members of Congress were openly hostile to wind energy. He persevered when most of his former colleagues had abandoned wind energy for other, more lucrative occupations. His steadfastness put AWEA and the wind industry on a stable footing, enabling it to grow rapidly when the political climate became more hospitable.
Tom’s death marks another passage of the pioneers that built the booming renewable energy industry we have today. He will be sorely missed.
Paul Gipe worked for Tom Gray as AWEA’s west coast representative in the late 1980s.