For Immediate Release: December 10, 2021

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SACRAMENTO – With an eye toward a carbon-free energy future, the California Energy Commission (CEC) today recognized six champions who are leading the way with the 2021 Clean Energy Hall of Fame Awards.

The Clean Energy Hall of Fame Awards is an annual event designed to honor the leadership and outstanding achievements of Californians who help advance the state’s clean energy goals. The awards aim to motivate and inspire actions to lead California to a 100 percent clean energy future by 2045. As California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “We will never waver on achieving the nation’s most ambitious clean energy goals.”

The winners exemplify this ambition. From a life-long leader of clean energy, to everyday champions of clean energy in all corners of the state, to young game changers driving toward a future without fossil fuels, the awardees were honored at a virtual ceremony.

Short summaries of each winner are below.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Peter A. Lehman, Founding Director at Schatz Energy Research Center in Arcata and a professor emeritus at Humboldt State University, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes an individual with at least 20 years of experience advancing clean energy who is considered a leader in their community, and has had a significant positive impact on California and environmental justice communities.

Lehman has dedicated his life to protecting the environment and advancing clean energy. He has not only inspired his student mentees, but even in his retirement, he is conducting energy planning work in partnership with local tribes and serving as principal investigator for microgrid projects that enable residents to cope with power outages and that serve as models for community microgrid programs.

Clean Energy Champions

Four Clean Energy Champions are being honored for contributing to California’s clean energy future through their bold moves, leadership, and innovative ideas, while helping transform communities in California through more equitable outcomes.

Eddie Ahn, Executive Director of Brightline Defense

Based in San Francisco, Brightline Defense is an environmental justice organization that empowers communities and creates sustainable environments through law, policy, and advocacy. Ahn, who is the son of immigrants, committed his education and career to ensuring that historically marginalized populations would not fall through the cracks. He is recognized for being a community bullhorn, ringing the alarm to stop environmental injustices and being resolute in seeking opportunities for low- and middle-income households.

Nicole Capretz, Founder and Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign

The mission of the Climate Action Campaign, which is based in San Diego, is to stop the climate crisis through effective policy action. Capretz was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s landmark 100 percent clean electricity Climate Action Plan adopted in 2015. Her work catalyzed similar policies and practices in California and around the country leading to her being considered the “godmother of 100 percent clean energy policy."

Mutual Housing California

The organization is an affordable housing developer in Sacramento and Yolo counties that owns, operates, and supports 19 electric solar communities. Mutual Housing provides over 1,000 clean, sustainable homes to more than 3,000 residents who include working families, seniors, farmworkers, and people coming out of homelessness. Understanding that housing enables stability and a second chance, the organization’s unique approach enables all residents to gain leadership development, education, and capacity building.

Abigail Solis, Manager of Sustainable Energy Solutions, Self-Help Enterprises

Self-Help Enterprises is a Visalia-based organization that works with low-income families to build and sustain healthy homes and communities. The work that Solis does is personal given she grew up in the Central Valley and is the daughter of migrant agricultural workers similar to the more than 55,000 families touched by Self-Help Enterprises’ work. She leads projects that enable residents of small, rural communities to access and benefit from affordable energy and clean transportation infrastructure.

Youth Game Changer Award

Communities for a Better Environment’s Youth for Environmental Justice (Youth EJ), which is based in Huntington Park and Richmond, received the Youth Game Changer Award. The award recognizes an individual who is 18 years of age or younger or an entity/organization focused on youth that is helping to advance California toward a clean energy future through innovative methods and inspiring the new generation of energy experts, entrepreneurs, and leaders to change the game.

Youth EJ was founded when a group of high school students gathered parents and community members to defeat the construction of a power plant in their Southeast Los Angeles neighborhood. The organization has expanded to 10 high schools with hundreds of members and alumni and a reach of thousands of youth leaders. Youth EJ enables the younger generation living in low-income communities to transform conditions through education, leadership development, and outreach activities.

For more information about the event, view the following:

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About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.