The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced in January that it hired Larry Flowers, an industry leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for three decades, and the man who launched its “Wind Powering America” program, to head up the trade association’s distributed and community wind efforts.
Flowers spent the last 10 years of his 30-year career at NREL serving as the National Technical Director for the highly regarded Wind Powering America program. His new title at AWEA is “Deputy Director, Distributed and Community Wind.” Through advocacy and other efforts, Flowers will work to grow the market for small wind systems used to power homes, farms and small businesses. Working with the AWEA State Relations team, Flowers will facilitate AWEA’s Distributed Wind Committee and Community Wind Working Group activities.
Flowers is impressively equipped to take up the advocacy and other work at AWEA. In 1999, then-U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced Wind Powering America. Flowers was tasked with launching the program and has been at the helm ever since. Through Wind Powering America, he formed a network of 35 state wind working groups, and four regional training and outreach institutes.
Flowers also created the innovative Wind for Schools program to educate K-12 and university students about wind energy. Under the program, currently established in 11 states, wind turbines are deployed at rural schools, creating a teaching tool for students throughout planning, construction, and ongoing monitoring of the turbines and their output. Meanwhile, higher-education students pursue their own studies of renewable technology in Wind Application Centers at their colleges and universities, and serve as consultants to the K-12 schools. Flowers will continue to support a Wind for Schools agenda at AWEA.
“Larry Flowers is the quintessential wind power advocate, and he comes equipped with a knowledge of the industry that is second to none,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Larry is known throughout the industry as a leader, coach, teacher, and innovator. His work has dramatically enhanced understanding and acceptance of wind power in the U.S. and beyond. An impressive 87% of Americans in the Harris poll support the deployment of more wind energy. I believe Larry Flowers has played a central role in making wind power America’s energy choice. We are excited to welcome Larry aboard.”
Flowers comes to AWEA with a host of career awards, including the AWEA Special Achievement Award in 2002, and most recently, the National Wind Technology Center Leadership Award in 2009.
Distributed wind systems, typically using smaller turbines than utility-scale wind farms, create local jobs, reduce on-site operating expenses, protect against electric rate hikes, save fuel, and reduce pollution and energy imports. The U.S. distributed wind industry reached 100 megawatts of installed capacity in 2009, more than $80 million in sales, and more than $250 million in private equity investment.
In community wind projects, the economic benefits that flow to the community are greater than from typical individual land lease payments and tax payments in commercial projects. Project sizes are typically in the range of 1-20 megawatts, although they can range higher.