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August 20, 2020

The U.S. Energy Storage Association Announces 2020 ESA Annual Award Winners

Energy Storage Industry Awards Recognize Excellence, Diversity and Leadership at #ESACon20

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2020 – The U.S. Energy Storage Association  (ESA), the national trade association for the American energy storage industry, today announced the 2020 ESA Annual Award recipients. On behalf of the storage industry, each year ESA recognizes individuals and companies for excellence in innovation, diversity and leadership.

The 2020 ESA Annual Award winners are:

  • Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement by a Member Organization Award: K&L Gates LLP
  • Phil Symons Energy Storage Award: Alicia Barton, CEO of FirstLight Power
  • Diversity & Inclusion Award: Peter Muhoro, Vice President of Strategy & Technology at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative
  • Breakthrough Woman of the Year Award: Linh Tran, Director of Sales – Residential at LG Chem

“Each year we recognize a distinguished group of energy storage champions with our annual awards program,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of ESA. “This year’s class of winners includes trailblazers from all sectors of the industry who have dedicated their careers to advancing the adoption of energy storage and accelerating the resiliency and reliability of the power grid. Early this year we added two new awards to recognize the outstanding achievements of industry leaders in diversity and inclusion, and for early-stage career women making significant contributions to the industry. We are proud to recognize our winners during this year’s annual conference.”  

ESA surveys its members and past award recipients every year to identify the significant contributions of a member organization in the storage industry for the Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement by a Member Organization Award. This year, member company K&L Gates was recognized for its tremendous contributions that have advanced the industry forward including nurturing early storage developers, hosting an annual conference and developing the widely circulated Energy Storage Handbook.

The Phil Symons Energy Storage Award is presented each year to a recipient for their individual contributions to the advancement of energy storage. Alicia Barton was recognized this year for her leadership and implementation of clean energy programs in both New York and Massachusetts. As the CEO of FirstLight Power and former President and CEO at the New York State Energy and Research Authority, she recognizes energy storage as a critical component to our clean energy future.

The new Diversity & Inclusion Award was developed this year to recognize those who have worked to nurture and encourage diversity and inclusion in the energy storage industry and paved the way for the success of women, people of color, and LBGTQ professionals. Peter Muhuro is the inaugural recipient this year for his dedication to initiating, supporting and integrating programs for diversity and inclusion both within and outside of the energy industry. 

The new Breakthrough Woman of the Year Award was created to recognize an individual woman with less than ten years of experience in the energy storage industry who has made a significant contribution to the industry over the past year. Linh Tran is being recognized for her commitment to developing qualified installers for the industry who are focused on safety. To date, Linh has provided training to more than 2,600 installers and contributed to the safe, reliable operations of storage installations across the country.

“We are deeply honored to be this year’s recipient of the Brad Roberts Award,” said Bill Holmes, Partner, K&L Gates. “We are committed to supporting and providing counsel to the energy storage industry, and we are looking forward to many more years of collaboration with ESA.”

“I am honored to accept this recognition which spotlights the role of states in pioneering our path to a clean energy future, with energy storage as a critical tool to accelerating our pace to a decarbonized electric grid that is reliable, resilient and affordable,” said Phil Symons Energy Storage Award recipient Alicia Barton, CEO, FirstLight Power. “The urgency of the climate crisis demands that we act faster than ever to achieve that future; thank you to the U.S. Energy Storage Association for advancing the vision and policy ideas that will allow us to more quickly realize markets that value and compensate existing and new storage resources for the unique and important values these resources can deliver in our clean energy transition.”

The winners will be recognized and honored in front of their peers at The ESA Energy Storage Annual Conference & Expo (#ESACon20), taking place virtually from August 24 to 27. The conference is bringing together the broader electricity sector under the team of “Electrification and Resilience: We’re All in This Together.”

For more information about ESA’s Annual Awards and past winners, please visit

About Energy Storage Association
The U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) is the national trade association dedicated to energy storage, working toward a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable electricity grid – as is uniquely enabled by energy storage. With more than 190 members, ESA represents a diverse group of companies, including independent power producers, electric utilities, energy service companies, financiers, insurers, law firms, installers, manufacturers, component suppliers and integrators involved in deploying energy storage systems around the globe.

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