Michael Kelley, Principal at Mistral Renewable Energy LLC, is this year’s Excellence in Operations Award recipient.
The Excellence in Operations Award recognizes an individual or company for excellence in efficient and effective operations of a wind farm, and the winner is someone who collaborates with others in the wind industry to improve the quality of operations and maintenance services. The recipient is nominated by his or her peers for having the foresight to lead the industry by driving improved performance for existing wind power plants, and for deploying innovative solutions.
Mr. Kelley has spent a career embodying these criteria.
I had the opportunity to speak with him after he received his award, and I learned a few things about how to build a successful wind project.
Mr. Kelley is a pioneer, having worked in wind since its earliest days. A native of San Diego, Mr. Kelley’s career was set in motion when he fortuitously saw an article in the San Diego Union Tribune about a man who installed a wind turbine on his property.
“I was intrigued by the idea of drawing electricity out of thin air,” Mr. Kelley explains.
This began a long career in wind power. Mr. Kelley worked on one of the first utility-scale wind farms in the U.S., and has since worked in projects across the country and as far away as Southern Italy. He has helped grow a number of companies and serves on an advisory panel for the Department of Energy.
After decades in wind power, Mr. Kelley notes that he believes the overarching key to success in wind is that, “One needs to think holistically.”
His consulting firm is named Ensemble Energy services for a reason- through many parts and many things come one thing. In order for an ensemble to be successful, all of the parts need to work in concert. Mr. Kelley believes for a wind project to be successful, the human, technical and commercial aspects all need to be in alignment, and this starts in the development phase.
Mr. Kelley told me he’s excited to see how U.S. wind energy has evolved in recent years. He sees it moving beyond mere transactions, making deals to get projects built, and truly inhabiting a power-producer role.
Most of all, it’s clear how much Mr. Kelley enjoys his career and the people he works with.
“I’m tremendously thankful to have stumbled into the industry when I did and to be able to make contributions. I have not found another industry where people are as passionate about what they do.”