NREL inaugurated the national award this year in celebration of the laboratory's 25th anniversary. It is named for the laboratory's pioneering first director and honors outstanding efforts to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
"Waverly Light and Power represents the very best of what the Rappaport Award is about," said NREL Director Richard Truly. "This may be a small utility, but it is one with a big supply of vision, innovation and courage."
"Those are the qualities that Paul Rappaport so ably reflected in his career," Truly said. "The selection of Waverly Light and Power as the first recipient of the Rappaport Award is both historic and appropriate."
Waverly began its wind program in 1991, at a time when the city faced a crisis in energy supply, and in 1993, it installed the first utility-scale wind turbine in Iowa. Beginning with Waverly's groundbreaking wind program, Iowa to date has installed some 350 wind turbines, producing more than 500 megawatts of electricity.
Today, Iowa ranks third among the states, behind only California and Texas, in wind energy development.
Waverly Light and Power also launched the Iowa Energy Tags Program in 2001, becoming the first electric utility in the nation to offer the increasingly popular "tags," which allow renewable energy to be substituted for traditional energy sources, and lessening the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.
Each Iowa Energy Tag represents the environmental benefits of 2,500 kilowatt hours of wind generation. The program is open to companies and individuals - in Iowa, around the nation and internationally - with funds received going to help pay for future wind generation equipment and development.
Waverly likewise has championed the cause of renewable energy and energy efficiency in many forums around the country. Its representatives have spoken out for renewable energy before Congress and within utility industry trade groups.
"We are little, as utilities go, but we've proven that no matter how large a system you have, you still can do the right thing," said Waverly Light and Power General Manager Glenn Cannon. "We have seen a lot of good come from our renewable energy efforts, they've allowed us to run an efficient, effective utility, and at the same time strengthen our rural economy and provide some substantial environmental benefits for us all."
Cannon accepted the award on behalf of the town and its utility at a ceremony commemorating NREL's 25th Anniversary.
Dr. Paul Rappaport was NREL's founding director - serving from April 1977 to August 1979. Before his appointment to NREL, Dr. Rappaport worked for more than 25 years at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Laboratories. A pioneer in his field, Dr. Rappaport made many contributions to the advancement of early solar photovoltaic technologies. Dr. Rappaport, died in 1980. NREL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. The laboratory is a leading center for research into wind energy, solar energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, advanced vehicle design, energy efficient buildings, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cells.