At this year’s AWEA Wind Project O&M and Safety Seminar, attendees were able to hear from top wind OEMs on subjects ranging from safety to project management to O&M. The seminar also saw an increase in attendance and is the second largest AWEA event outside of the WINDPOWER Tradeshow. Additionally, attendees had an opportunity to visit exhibitor booths and network with other wind-energy professionals.
While at the seminar, I had the pleasure of sitting down with AWEA’s CEO Tom Kiernan to discuss the event and the great things going on in the wind industry. Please enjoy our Q&A conversation.
Nic Abraham: Tom, thank you for being with us.
Tom Kiernan: Great to be here, Nic. Thank you for taking the time.
Nic: No problem at all. All right, so we can just jump right into the questions. Can you tell us about the AWEA Wind Project O&M and Safety Seminar?
Tom: Happy to. We’re having an exciting seminar here in San Diego. It is the largest one we’ve ever had. We’re right around 700 registrants, significantly larger than last year. It’s an opportunity for all different segments of the operations, maintenance, and safety parts of the wind industry to come together to learn from each other, whether it’s in large forum settings or in small meetings, to have a lot of information exchange, networking, a lot of discussions. It’s an exciting conference. The growth in the conference demonstrates, frankly, the growing importance of the operations, maintenance, and safety around our wind farms throughout the United States.
Nic: All right. Awesome. As you just stated, and I did attend this conference last year, it does looks like the attendance has grown. Can you comment on the information attendees are getting?
Tom: Yeah. Frankly, they’re getting pretty intense technical strategic guidance from their peers. People are very forthright in sharing, whether it’s just in one of the conferences, talking in one of the seminars, talking about upgrades to wind turbines, when you should do an upgrade, how, and what you need to consider. For folks in the industry it’s an extraordinary place to get a lot of important information as we continue to do a better and better job upgrading and maintaining the 48,000 turbines that are out there spinning every day.
Nic: That’s great to hear. Thinking of the industry as a whole, can you talk about what you expect to happen in the wind industry in 2015 as far as policies or anything else?
Tom: Let me preface it by saying we are at near record construction levels in the industry. The industry throughout the country is quite vibrant. A lot under construction. A lot of new wind farms being added to the grid at the end of 2014. And in all of 2014, we had just shy of 5,000 megawatts installed, which was a significant increase over the previous year. On the ground throughout the country, the industry is doing well.
However, the uncertainty in regards to the production tax credit which has now expired again, that uncertainty is causing significant and unnecessary inappropriate challenges to the industry. We do need it extended so that the industry doesn’t fall off the cliff as it did a year and half or so ago. What we’re looking to do is work with both sides of the aisle with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and get the production tax credit extended for as long as possible.
Nic: Okay, great. The last question is, how does the industry keep suppliers interested or engaged in wind? I know a lot of people get kind of discouraged when the PTC doesn’t pass. But there are a lot of great things going on in wind, so how do we keep the suppliers engaged?
Tom: I think we need to remember that we are the number one producer of wind energy in the entire world. It is a vibrant industry here in the United States and it’s a very productive industry. The industry has learned to not just build the turbines, but to operate and maintain these turbines. They are producing more electricity from wind energy than any other country in the world. Frankly, I think suppliers see that excitement, that dynamism, that success in the Untied States that we want to keep going. We think having the suppliers continue to engage in the industry is really important. This conference is really important. Extending the production tax credit is really important as well.
Nic: All right. Well, there you have it ladies and gents. Thank you again, Tom, for answering a few questions.
Tom: Thank you, Nic. It was a pleasure.
Filed Under: News, Uncategorized