The U.S. wind industry, which just experienced its slowest quarter since 2007, is in the midst of a three-day Wind Energy Fall Symposium in Phoenix, Ariz., and will hear from General Colin L. Powell, U.S.A. (Ret.) in a keynote speech (open to attendees and trade press only).
Organized each year by the American Wind Energy Association, the Fall Symposium convenes members to share successes and lessons learned over the past year and provides the backdrop for members to build networks and relationships crucial to business success. That theme will be echoed in Powell’s speech, entitled “Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values.”
This event, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, takes place at a time of serious challenges for the industry. Lack of long-term U.S. energy policies such as a Renewable Electricity Standard, and resulting lack of certainty for business, has the country’s utilities failing to move forward with wind build-out plans. Such policies are already in place in China and Europe, resulting in more than $35 billion of expected investment in 2010 – nearly four times the investment the U.S. will see this year.
These challenges underscore how stable national incentives for investment in renewable energy are needed for domestic wind turbine manufacturing and installation to expand as they did in 2008-2009, employing 85,000 Americans and diversifying American’s energy portfolio.
“The importance of building a strong renewable energy manufacturing base in the U.S. cannot be overstated,” said Denise Bode, CEO, AWEA. “With domestic content increasing to over 50 percent, the U.S. wind industry creates American jobs and reduces our dependence on foreign oil—and is the fastest-growing manufacturing sector in the country. Even in the depth of the recession, our industry has been a bright spot in the U.S economy. The AWEA Fall Symposium is where the key players meet and recommit to powering a stronger and cleaner America.”
The symposium includes a full range of wind energy business topics in two main tracks: “Realities of the Market,” and “Managing Your Future for Profit.” It will also address the wind industry outlook from state and federal policy perspectives following the mid-term elections. Over 700 participants representing all facets of the wind industry are in attendance. General session speakers include Vic Abate, Vice President for Renewables, GE Energy; Thomas Carnahan, President, Wind Capital Group; Ned Hall, AES Wind Generation Vice President; Michael Skelly, President, Clean Line Energy Partners; and Mark Stoering, Vice President of Portfolio Strategy and Business Development, Xcel Energy.
During the symposium, AWEA is presenting annual awards to members outstanding in their fields. This year’s recipients are:
Supplier of the Year – John Grabner, President and CEO, Cardinal Fastener (Bedford Heights, OH)
Following President Obama’s visit to Cardinal Fastener in January of 2009, John Grabner has taken a strong role in spreading the word about jobs created in the U.S. from the U.S. wind industry. At Cardinal Fastener, all purchased steel is mined and melted in the U.S. and all secondary processes, including outside vendors/suppliers, are located in Ohio and Indiana; “When Cardinal grows, America grows,” is John’s standard statement. His meetings with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sen. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and numerous regional officials have served as a platform for him to share his success story and push for more legislation on wind. By positioning Cardinal Fastener within the wind industry, Grabner has increased his staff by 20% in 2009 and plans further increase in 2010.
Achievement in Operations – Jim Cusick, Site Manager, Vestas (Abilene, TX)
Jim Cusick has worked at Vestas for more than five years. Beginning in 2006, he served as the site manager for SMUD’s Solano Wind Project before moving to Texas this past spring to manage the service and maintenance of the Buffalo Gap site near Abilene, Texas. He is being recognized for creating a strong safety culture along with his outstanding technical skills, commitment to quality and excellent customer relations.
Outstanding Technical Contribution to the Wind Industry – Sandy Butterfield, CEO, Boulder Wind Power (Boulder, CO)
Sandy Butterfield, formerly the Chief Engineer at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, has been a leader in the wind energy technical community for decades. His most recent achievement is leading the Gearbox Reliability Collaborative, a government/industry partnership focused on improving gearbox reliability through extensive test and analyses. Other work over the last 20-plus years at NREL has included providing technical leadership with international standards, modeling turbine performance and controlling stall, establishing testing procedures, and addressing gearbox/bearing issues. He recently left NREL to be CEO of Boulder Wind Power.
State Leadership – Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado (Denver, CO)
Governor Bill Ritter is honored for his leadership in the State of Colorado, as well as for urging the U.S. Senate to include a renewable energy standard in national energy legislation. In Colorado, nearly one-third of electricity generated by large utilities must come from clean-energy sources by 2020 – the second-highest renewable energy requirement in the nation.
Andy Linehan Award for Environmental Excellence – Mike Azeka, Director of Planning and Permitting, AES (San Diego, CA)
A wind industry veteran, Mike Azeka was the lead industry caucus negotiator on the Secretary of Interior’s Wind Turbine Advisory Committee. He spent thousands of hours representing the wind industry’s interests, and through his leadership, patience and skill, helped the Federal Advisory Committee reach consensus on siting guidelines submitted to the Secretary of the Interior in March of this year.
Special Achievement in Environmental Leadership – Rene Braud, Director, Permitting and Environmental Affairs, Horizon (Houston, TX)
Rene Braud is recognized for her long-standing commitment to environmental excellence. Braud has worked for three of the industry’s largest developers—FPL, BP and now Horizon Wind Energy—to establish or strengthen their environmental programs. In addition, she’s provided leadership on numerous committees over her wind career, including the AWEA Siting Committee, American Wind Wildlife Institute and, most recently, the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee (FACA). She is a regular panelist and presenter at environmental conferences.
Regulatory Leadership – Southwest Power Pool Board, Regional State Committee and Staff, Nick Brown, President and Harry Skilton, Vice Chairman of the Board (Little Rock, AR)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved filings by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) that have the potential to dramatically reduce hurdles to transmission construction by providing a reasonable approach to cost allocation and a new proactive planning process. SPP’s adoption of the proactive, flexible approach to planning for and investing in transmission across its region is a model for other regions to follow. In addition, the SPP filing and order may have been a crucial reason for the improvement of the Midwest ISO (MISO) cost allocation proposal subsequently filed with FERC. According to FERC, SPP’s plan will facilitate investment in new transmission facilities, reduce congestion, efficiently integrate new resources in the region and accommodate growth in demand while providing greater certainty of cost recovery. The work of the staff, members and working groups, with leadership from states, resulted in an innovative process for dealing with complicated issues facing the electricity industry, and one which is already showing results of getting new transmission built to connect windy regions with load centers.
Filed Under: Policy