Conference brings together small wind farm community

Innovation and industry advances were in strong supply this year at the sixth annual Small Wind Conference, a gathering of approximately 200 small wind installers, manufacturers, and advocates, in Stevens Point, Wis.

The conference, held June 11-13, focused on topics of interest to the installer community including

• Product updates from 14 small wind turbines manufacturers;
• Activities of the Small Wind Certification Council, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, Interstate Turbine Advisory Council, and Distributed Wind Energy Association; and
• Topical panels on state incentive programs, testing and development, public acceptance, resource assessment, permitting, business strategies, and case studies.

The conference was keynoted by Dan Juhl, a long-time leader in the field, who discussed the rather unique history of small wind product and market development.

Receiving annual awards were Guasti Construction for Installer of the Year and Mike Bergey for Lifetime Leadership. AWEA’s exhibit and poster featured the AWEA 2011 Small Wind Market Report, and AWEA’s Larry Flowers moderated the incentives panel and participated in the “Business of Wind” panel, in addition to helping judge the turbine competition described below. Many of the conferees went on to participate in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Energy Fair in Custer, Wis., on June 18-19.

The event kicked off with an exhibitors’ reception featuring a competition among small teams that designed and built wind turbines before making a marketing presentation to conference attendees. Rather than using the steel, copper, fiberglass and other high-tech materials usually associated with wind turbines, resourceful participants executed their innovative designs with plastic tubing, wooden dowels, tongue depressors, string, plastic cups, corks, and a myriad of craft-making materials—resulting not only in creative outcomes but outstanding team building.

By Carl Levesque, American Wind Energy Association Editor & Publications Manager,