Making a lifelong Friend of Wind
February 10, 2016
My friend, and accomplished co-worker, Tom Levy is moving on. It is with excitement that we wish him well in his new endeavours but with sadness that we see him go. Luckily Tom won’t be too far from us as he joins Natural Resources Canada in a new role on the wind energy side of things.
When I started at the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) Tom and I shared a cubicle wall and it was Tom who invited me to my first group lunch at the office. So it’s fitting that we now sit over lunch again as I try to pull little nuggets of information out of his mind on what excited him about the wind industry and how he plans to stay engaged.
As Tom and I settle in he tells me that he was a kid who always enjoyed nature but what he didn’t enjoy was seeing litter or the lack of green spaces, trees, parks, etc. This passion for the environment that started as a child continued on through the completion of his master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and his first job out of university where he was responsible for investigating contamination. Contamination that filled our land from industrial processes of the 1950s. Quite frankly, he says “the job was a bit depressing.” There wasn’t much joy in informing people of what they in fact knew, there was a problem. As part of this work, in 2004 Tom came across an opportunity where he was asked to investigate a renewable energy project for a client. Lo and behold the client was looking to see if they could install a wind turbine on their land. The rest you can say was history. Tom tells me that it’s something he’s always known but something that he saw firsthand through his early work, renewables avoid the many problems that we face with our overconsumption of fossil fuels. “It was a simple solution. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.”
Tom walks the talk. In 2007 he completed building his off-grid family home which is powered primarily with solar electricity. And as he puts it “my home is a reflection of my values. If I spend all this time advising people to clean up the environment, to build renewable communities, how could I not do it myself?” As I’ve witnessed, Tom is proud to speak about renewables, he truly believes that they are our path forward, “I am on the right side of history.”
On the professional side of things, Tom has had many successes working with the wind industry where he has provided broad technical support to CanWEA, our members, utilities, government officials and the public. One thing he is proud of is the soon-to-be-released Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study. It is a landmark study that will assess the operational and economic implications of integrating large amounts of wind energy in the Canadian electrical system. Something else notable is how he has increased the wind industry’s understanding of radar issues, a not-so-small feat that has allowed wind energy projects to be built across south-western Ontario. Tom has also laid the path forward for an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program at CanWEA. All of this among the daily tasks of providing support for a wide range of technical matters.
As we wrap-up our chat, Tom assures me that he will keep fighting the good fight for an industry he believes in. Wherever Tom’s future takes him renewable energy will certainly be a part of it.
Not everyone speaks about renewables as passionately as Tom does and I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak often. If you can catch an opportunity to hear Tom talk about renewable energy whether it be personal or professional my suggestion would be to take it up! But for now, Tom has written a number of excellent CanWEA Blogs. Consider learning more about wind energy by reading his blogs on:
- Why Wind
- Wind works for the environment
- Wind Energy’s Unsung Hero – O&M
- Bats and Wind Turbines: Moving Beyond Dracula
Thanks for that lunch invite, Tom! We will certainly miss you but know that we have a lifelong friend of wind.