Wind energy at a crossroads in America

The U.S. wind turbines 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 today 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
*Achievement in Operations – Jim Cusick, Site Manager, Vestas
*Outstanding Technical Contribution to the Wind Industry – Sandy Butterfield, CEO, Boulder Wind Power
*State Leadership – Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado
*Andy Linehan Award for Environmental Excellence – Mike Azeka, Director of Planning and Permitting, AES
*Special Achievement in Environmental Leadership – Rene Braud, Director, Permitting and Environmental Affairs, Horizon
*Regulatory Leadership – Southwest Power Pool Board, Regional State Committee and Staff

The symposium will wrap up with the AWEA Golf Tournament on Saturday, a benefit for the AWEA Educational Scholarship Fund.