Virginia Renewable Energy Leadership Award

Criteria and Recipients

The Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance makes an annual award recognizing an individual or organization for significant contributions advancing renewable energy in Virginia.

Nomination Criteria: 

A qualified nominee should exemplify one or more of the following contributions to renewable energy in Virginia:

  • Bringing renewable energy to a new market, creating a “first” project in the state of Virginia

  • Bringing renewable energy to an under-served group (e.g. low-income homes)

  • Advancing renewable energy legislation in Virginia

  • Bringing renewable energy projects of notable size/impact to Virginia’s grid

  • Being a significant educator in the field of renewable energy

  • Inspiring young women or underrepresented groups to enter the industry through educational activities, mentoring, or job development

Any VA-REA member may nominate themselves, another individual, or an organization. Nominees do not need to be a member of VA-REA. Nominations of qualified women and members of underrepresented groups are especially encouraged.

Each nomination submission shall include a brief (250 words or less) summary of the accomplishments that make the nominee deserving of this particular award.

To nominate an individual, please email

Profile photo of Jim Pierobon

 Jim Pierbon, 2017

Jim Pierbon would go on to co-found and serve as principal reporter at Southeast Energy News, a platform he used to educate policymakers, fellow industry experts, and the public about the challenges and opportunities of creating a clean energy system. He also maintained his personal blog Energy Fix, and published work for national outlets like The New York Times and The Huffington Post.


a person standing in a room  Ivy Main, 2019

Ivy Main is a lawyer and a longtime volunteer with the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter as the Renewable Energy Chairperson. She is a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee and is also the mastermind behind the Power for the People blog.

Image preview  Ken Jurman, 2020

Ken Jurman is the Renewable Energy Program Manager for the Virginia Department of Energy.

Remarks from VA-REA Chair, Cliona Robb: I’ve worked with Ken for several years as Chair of the Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority and I’ve never observed a harder working, more knowledgeable, or more humble advocate of renewable energy than Ken. He truly is an unsung hero among renewable energy advocates in Virginia and more than deserving of this recognition.

Profile photo of Debra Jacobson  Debra Jacobson, 2021

Remarks from Jon Miles, VA-REA Board Member: Debra began her career on Capitol Hill as an intern to Rep. Bob Eckhardt, later advanced to become his legislative assistant, and ultimately served as one of his investigative counsels on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Debra continued in this role after Rep. John Dingell assumed the Chairmanship of the Subcommittee in 1981, and in 1991 the U.S. News and World Report ran an article on Rep. Dingell that detailed the skills of his investigative team, citing Debra personally as "a lawyer who knows more about the EPA than most of its bosses." She was by then a force to be reckoned with. By the time that Debra and I met in the late 1990s, when I was just a young pup seeking to define an academic career in the energy space, she was already retiring from public service and embarking on her second act, one that would involve working with the U.S. Department of Energy on clean energy and other issues, driving local advocacy for clean air standards on behalf of her Northern Virginia community, and teaching energy law courses at George Washington University, among other activities. At around this time, Debra and I were introduced and formed a partnership with Alden Hathaway, Mitch King, and George Hagerman, and with assistance from Ken Jurman and DMME (now Virginia Energy), and support from DOE’s brand new Wind Powering America program, we initiated Virginia’s first formal wind deployment effort. Now, it did take more than a few years for wind power to launch in Virginia, but nonetheless Debra was very pleased and gratified in recent years to see progress made by Dominion, Apex, and others. If I may invoke a football analogy, like Tom Brady, Debra was always on top of her game, and one of the select few individuals who could squeeze two hall-of-fame careers into a single lifetime. Debra fought her illness in exactly the same manner that she fought for the Earth and the communities that she loved, with passion and vigor, with optimism, and with her irrepressible insistence on openness, advocacy, clarity, and dialogue. While her most important and valued roles were as wife, mother, sister, and grandmother, thankfully her reach extended far beyond her own family, to the many of us who admired and learned from her, and who were infected by her passion. Debra’s legal prowess was demonstrated even as far back as 1970, when she lobbied her principal successfully for her high school to recognize the very first Earth Day. Her path was defined then and there, and it never wavered. As her sister Sheri shared with me a few days ago, Debra was always one step ahead, and was steadfastly committed to the Earth that she loved. She understood the legal, political, and technical complexities of the Energy Transition as well as anyone, long before the term “Energy Transition” became part of our vernacular, and she applied her enormous talents and skills to help steer Virginia and our nation toward a cleaner energy future.


The Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance is advancing renewable energy at all levels in Virginia through finding common ground and serving as an authoritative resource.


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