Program Chair Michelle Arenson explains why you should be excited for WINDPOWER

WINDPOWER 2016 is now just a few shorts weeks away, so it’s time to start getting excited for this year’s conference (for reasons besides its New Orleans location).

I recently spoke with Technical Program Chair Michelle Arenson, Regional Director for Wind Generation at Alliant Energy, about why WINDPOWER is important, and what’s different about it this year.

Here’s what she had to say about a few of the topics she’s looking forward to discussing this year:

  • One of the things that I look forward to each year at WINDPOWER is the ability to hear from and interact with a range of industry experts in development, construction, operations, OEMs technical experts.
  • I’m also looking forward to exploring policy issues beyond the long awaited extension of the Production Tax Credit. The long-term stability that the PTC extension gives over the next few years will allow the industry to focus on other policy issues, such as the Clean Power Plan and the impact that the Supreme Court stay will have on it and emerging environmental issues, as well as transmission policy issues, which are key to facilitating the delivery of wind power to consumers.
  • I anticipate good discussion about the economics of wind and how wind can become increasingly cost-competitive with other types generation resources, both traditional and renewable.

Ms. Arenson was also excited about the economic potential for wind in the coming years. She explained,

“Wind turbine technician is already the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. I’m excited about the potential for continuing job growth for states and the country, and the potential for continuous improvement in the quality of education and training programs for wind technicians. Technician training programs, whether OEM sponsored or sponsored by community and technical colleges, have improved vastly over the last decade and I expect they will continue to improve over the coming years.

The number of suppliers and service providers continues to expand and drive competition in the industry, which drives efficiency, cost reduction and innovation.  Many of these are small businesses that grow our local economies, bring jobs to our home states and ultimately benefit the U.S. economy.”

Lastly, Ms. Arenson noted some changes from WINDPOWERs of years past:

“WINDPOWER promises to be exciting this year because of a change in format that integrates the exhibit hall with breakout education sessions. This will allow more of us to see, hear and interact with what we want, when we want.

I also look forward to the Emerging Leaders Program and the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. These programs will allow us to grow the next generation of wind talent in the U.S. and will allow both newcomers and veterans of the business to learn from one another while challenging ideas old and new.”

So don’t miss WINDPOWER 2016 in New Orleans, this May 23-26. There’s plenty to look forward to and lots to learn, not to mention the chance to spend a few days in the Big Easy.