Small Wind Conference Brings Together the Industry for 9th Annual Event!
The ninth annual Small Wind Conference drew attendees from around the states
and around the globe to Stevens Point, Wisconsin June 18-19, 2013 for two days
of conference sessions, and preceding and following days of workshops and
meetings. This no-nonsense conference is the key annual gathering for small
wind industry professionals to share information and perspective.
Twenty-two sponsors and thirteen exhibitors put their names and products in
front of the conference attendees, promoting small wind electricity as a staple
of renewable energy’s contribution to the world’s energy mix.
The conference opened with a social in the exhibit hall, featuring conference
exhibitors and sponsors, and their hardware. The highlight of the SWC’s opening
social is a competition, during which teams of participants craft a small wind
creation, and then see how their ideas stack up against others. This year,
participants were tasked with building a tower out of spaghetti, marshmallows,
string, and tape. Towers were judged not only on height, but where subjected to
wind speeds until they failed. The hilarious results were an auspicious preview
of the camaraderie of the group, and the more serious networking that the
Conference sessions offered an array of topics, while networking between sessions,
during meals, and long into the night helped far-flung wind energy colleagues to
reconnect. More than forty conference presentations included industry updates,
business strategies and applications, technical sessions, and more. Two parallel
sessions this year brought a special focus on off-grid wind-electric systems,
viewed from social, business, and technical points of view.
Many regulars attended the conference, including Rich Bannen, who received a
cowboy hard hat in recognition of his early registration habit and his own
trademark hat. Conference newcomer Paul Gipe—the well-known wind journalist—
was a very welcome addition to the sessions and networking times, and we hope
he’ll become a regular at the SWC in the future. Mike Klemen—for many years a
volunteer wind generator tester and now a commissioner for the Small Wind
Certification Council—returned to the conference after a long absence.
Megan Amsler, of Cape & Islands Self-Reliance in Falmouth, Massachusetts
was the conference keynote speaker, and also received our small wind advocate
of the year award. Megan has worked promoting wind and other renewables on
Cape Cod for many years, and shared some of her struggles, strategies, and
vision with conference attendees.
Roger Dixon of Skylands Renewable Energy in New Jersey received the small wind
turbine installer of the year award. In addition to hands-on installation work
and project management, Roger has been involved in promoting incentives for wind
in his home state of New Jersey.
Paul Gipe received a lifetime achievement award from the conference, and was
toasted and roasted by long-time colleague Mick Sagrillo. Gipe’s career has spanned
several decades and a variety of roles in the industry, making an enormous
contribution to the credibility of the industry, and honesty and accountability of
manufacturers, agencies, and dealers.
Our sponsors included wind turbine manufacturers Kingspan, Endurance, Bergey,
Eocycle, Evoco, Kestrel, Xzeres, Black Island Wind, and Ampair. Other businesses,
organizations, and agencies that supported the conference included National
Renewable Energy Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of
Energy Resources, Miller Fall Protection/Honeywell, Vertical Safety Solutions,
Wind Power Services, GME Supply, The Power Store, AnemErgonics and G-Tower,
Cradle North America, Small Wind Certification Council, Underwriters Laboratories,
United Wind, Midnite Solar, Right Hand Engineering, Independent Power Systems,
APRS World, and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Samantha Smart Merritt, the SWC’s hired project manager, worked tirelessly and
lovingly to make the conference run like clockwork. The SWC coordinating committee
thanks Samantha for all that she does, out front and behind the scenes, including
securing and taking care of sponsors and exhibitors, handling registration and
attendee requests, and much, much more. We look forward to working with
Samantha again and again.
Next year, we’ll be reconvening June 17-18, 2014 in Stevens Point, with another
lively and informative conference. You can be sure that our tenth year will be
the best ever, with more solid information, networking, fun, and business connections.
If your work involves small wind-electric systems, we hope to see you!