La Jolla, Calif., played host last week to nearly 1,000 wind industry professionals for a “trifecta” of AWEA events to kick off the New Year—the Regional Wind Energy Summit-West; Wind Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar; and Wind Environmental Health & Safety Seminar.
While each event hosted its own bevy of nuts-and-bolts technical seminars, the underlying theme running throughout the week was clear: With the PTC extended for another year, it’s now time for the industry to look to the future. As AWEA Western Regional Representative Tom Darin stated, “[T]he PTC extension keeps wind power in the game, and sends businesses a very strong, positive signal.”
The co-location of the three gatherings allowed attendees and exhibitors to take advantage of more than one event, saving them travel time and money and allowing them to connect with multiple audiences within the industry.
Regional Summit series goes to industry’s birthplace for first time
When it came to planning AWEA’s first Regional Wind Energy Summit – West, La Jolla was an easy choice. “California is really at the forefront in the country for renewables,” noted Virinder Singh, EDF Renewables’ director of regulatory and legislative affairs, and chair of the event.
The birthplace of utility-scale wind energy, California has encountered many of the issues faced by industry members all over the country. This translated to a full-spectrum educational program, providing attendees with a comprehensive and timely analysis of critical topics in Western wind.
O&M best practices being developed
Day two of the trifecta drew 400-plus attendees for the Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar, which focused on the all-important, real-world topics of how to drive costs down, increase production, extend turbine life, and in general prepare for a post-Production Tax Credit (PTC) world. Along with educational sessions and working group meetings, attendees also gathered for table topic discussions to discuss best practices and ways to make wind a more competitive player in the energy sector.
One indication of the industry’s continued maturation and evolution: Tuesday morning, attendees got a sneak peek of the draft AWEA O&M Best Practices document, which is now available to all AWEA members for review through the Member Center. The goal of these standards ultimately will be to provide greater consistency in technician training and to the industry as a whole.
Interaction with OSHA
The Environmental Health & Safety Seminar, meanwhile, focused on methods and technologies being employed in the industry to increase both worker safety and productivity. An OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) open forum Thursday morning provided a unique opportunity for a direct and open dialogue between safety professionals and the federal agency.
The forum allowed OSHA Region V Area Director Thom Bielema to provide an update on the agency’s latest regulatory and compliance activities and answer attendees’ questions on issues that impact their work sites. Bielema noted, “It’s very important for us [OSHA] to remain engaged in the safety and health conference with AWEA and for us to exchange information so that we’re timely and accurate with the message we’re delivering.”
With the PTC extension ensured, all three events reflected the industry environment of “Now we can get down to business,” an environment in which the industry can keep doing what it does best: constantly improve, innovate and propel itself forward in a competitive energy market. “It takes a multi-faceted approach to advance wind in the U.S.,” observed Regional Wind Energy Summit keynote speaker Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford. “The fundamentals are there for wind and we need to keep pushing … Good things will come.”
By Rebecca Willard, Administrative Assistant to AWEA Public Policy and Public Affairs teams, http://www.awea.org/blog