Robert and Willis McLeese receive Stephen Probyn Prize 2011
By Alyssa Dalton
November 22, 2011 – EBMag was there last week when Robert McLeese and his late father Willis McLeese received the 2011 Stephen Probyn Prize for their achievements in the clean energy business, and for their work on climate change and sustainable development. According to the selection committee, the award recognizes an individual or organization for “significant advances and achievements in financial markets, public policy or science and technology which promote action on climate change and sustainable development.”
Robert accepted the Probyn Prize on behalf of himself and his late father at APPrO’s annual banquet dinner on November 15, 2011.
“For decades, Robert McLeese and his father have continued to innovate and take unprecedented steps to ensure renewable energy projects got off the ground. The McLeeses are amongst a handful of individuals who created the framework that allows us today to produce renewable energy so effectively,” said David Butters, president of APPrO (Association of Power Producers of Ontario). “For these reasons, they are the perfect candidates for the Probyn Prize as they had the vision to see the potential of renewable energy and took bold steps to make it a reality.”
The father and son team began developing a portfolio of sustainable energy projects in the 1980s and broke into the Canadian market in the 1990s, providing different small and medium-sized companies the funding and development support needed to invest in environmental projects. Some of these projects include:
• White River (White River, Ont.): Financial advisor to the project, now in the final throes of construction planning and fundraising, for two hydro projects which is expected to produce 95,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually.
• United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising First Nations (UCCMM) (Manitoulin Island, Ont.): Advisor to UCCMM regarding the development and financing of their portion of a 60MW wind farm project.
• Piney Creek Limited Partnership (Clarion, Penn.): Advisor on purchase, financing, and optimization of a 33MW waste coal fired power plant (270,000MW-hours of annual production) – Winner of 2001 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
“I am thrilled to receive the Probyn Prize and hope it sends a positive message that encourages other Canadian businesses to see the environmental development opportunities in the power generation market,” said Robert. “It is truly an honour working with such great Canadian companies helping to develop predictable renewable energy solutions.”
Robert is currently the president and founder of Access Capital, a company dedicated to independent power project financing. He is a past president of IPPSO (the Independent Power Producers’ Society of Ontario) and past chairman of the Toronto Board of Trade Electricity Task Force.
Willis initiated the development of a 47MW biomass fuelled electric generating station in California that provides power sufficient to supply about 50,000 homes–a business that grew to eventually include Canada. He passed away in January 2011.