by Mick Sagrillo

Once again, the Small Wind Conference has lived up to its reputation as the premier small wind event in the United States, with people attending from all across the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Panama, France, and Uganda.

The conference, coordinated by the Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee and organized by Windustry from Minneapolis, began on Monday with two workshops: Fundamentals of Wind, and Small Wind Permitting and Zoning.  Monday evening’s social in the Exhibition Hall featured attendees building model wind turbine rotors and competing against each other in the KidWind wind tunnel.

Tuesday began with a keynote address by Randy Udall, Energy Consultant from Colorado. Following Randy’s excellent analysis of the current state of renewable energy in the United States, 46 presenters delved into a variety of issues of interest to wind installers, from wind resource assessment and siting lessons to legal and insurance issues to turbine testing and results.  The Distributed Wind Energy Association made its debut at the end of the day, unveiling opportunities for the small wind industry to get involved in its own trade organization.  Tuesday’s culmination was a BBQ at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association sponsored by Bergey Windpower of Oklahoma.

The second day began with a breakfast for the Women of Wind Energy, who have started a new chapter called Women of Small Wind Energy.  Wednesday featured more presentations, punctuated by the annual small wind awards ceremony.

This year’s Small Wind Advocate Award went to Mark Mayhew, of NYSERDA in New York, “for his enthusiasm, dedication, advocacy, and outstanding work in the small wind industry.”  Mayhew and NYSERDA were lauded for their achievements in small wind program development and administration of a performance-based incentive program, heralded as a shining example of a public benefits program that advances the industry.

The Small Wind Installer Award went to Seventh Generation Energy Systems of Madison, Wisconsin, for all the work they have done to advance the interests of small wind in Wisconsin and the Midwest.  What started as a one-person company has developed into one of the nation’s most successful small wind installation, consulting, and advocacy businesses.   Awards included the token (but gigantic) wrench, the symbol of all small wind installers and advocates.

Trudy Forsyth (left) and Roy Butler (right) present the Small Wind Installer Award to Seventh Generation Energy Systems.

This year saw 17 sponsors help offset the cost of the Small Wind Conference.   A record 26 exhibitors, from manufacturers to component suppliers to consultants and site assessors, answered questions about their businesses from attendees. Our sincerest appreciation goes out to all sponsors and exhibitors for helping to make the conference the success that it was. The participants enjoyed a networking and educational event second to none in the small wind world.

This year’s poster session featured seven presentations ranging from wind energy education to wind assessment techniques to new developments in small wind technology.

In addition to the two-day Small Wind Conference, a flurry of other events took place during the conference week.   Thursday morning, the Distributed Wind Energy Association held its first meeting open to the public, discussing organization development issues as well as opportunities for attendees to advance policies to help further the interests of the small wind industry.   The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) convened a group of small wind experts to begin development of a Small Wind Site Assessor Resource Guide.  And a group of industry stakeholders gathered to begin consideration of a standard for mid-sized wind turbines.

Finally, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 22nd Energy Fair, the largest renewable energy and sustainable living event on the planet, educated and entertained all for the long weekend after the Small Wind Conference.

The Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee would like thank all who exhibited, participated, and helped with the event, especially our sponsors which included:

The committee  expressed their sincere gratitude to Windustry for their work choreographing the conference logistics and providing outstanding support for the conference.

Plans for next year’s Small Wind Conference at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin are being developed now. The conference is scheduled to be held Monday to Wednesday, June 11-13, 2012.

The Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee includes Roy Butler, Trudy Forsyth, Jenny Heinzen, Mick Sagrillo, Brent Summerville, and Ian Woofenden.