Mick Sagrillo May 3, 2015
The Small Wind Conference (SWC) has proven to be the small wind event of the year, a not-to-be-missed extravaganza. Slated for June 15-17, 2015, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the 11th annual conference will focus on issues pertinent to all sectors of the small wind industry.
The SWC was conceived a dozen years ago after a group of small wind industry activists decided that if there was going to be a conference that addressed their issues, they would have to be the ones who put it together. And put it together they did. The SWC draws attendees and exhibitors from all seven continents.
The two-day SWC features presenters representing installers and site assessors, manufacturers, supply chain vendors, insurance and financial interests, government agencies, public benefits programs managers, permitting authorities, educators, and renewable energy advocates. Proposals for presentations from across the globe are selected if they are “experience-based” and offer viable solutions for issues facing the small wind industry.
The SWC also includes an exhibition hall packed with turbine manufacturers, supply chain vendors, and consultants— but only those offering equipment with a proven track record. Unlike other conferences that allow anyone to exhibit, you won’t find any fantasy wind turbines or “technology breakthroughs” at the SWC, just solid hardware, products, and services.
This year’s keynote speaker is Roger Dixon of Skylands Renewable Energy, LLC. Dixon began his career by scavenging pre-REA (Rural Electrification Administration) wind generators out of the Plains States in 1974. Today, his focus is project development using 1-kilowatt (kW) to 750-kW systems, as well as servicing orphan wind systems. With a 40-year perspective, Dixon will entertain the conference attendees by looking at the industry’s ups and downs over the years, industry advancements, and small wind’s potential going into the future.
There will be a number of side meetings at this year’s SWC. These include:
- The Distributed Wind Energy Association Board of Directors’ meeting and general membership meeting
- The Small Wind Certification Council Board of Directors’ annual strategic planning session
- The Women of Wind Energy Breakfast
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s two-day Distributed Wind Resource Assessment Stakeholder Workshop
- Several turbine and tower manufacturer trainings.
Although the SWC focuses on presentations, workshops, and meetings, there are three evening socials scheduled for unwinding and networking. The most popular of these is the Opening Exhibitors Reception where, after being sufficiently lubricated, reception attendees are invited to participate in the evening’s “entertainment.” Activities have ranged from designing and testing unique wind turbine blades to a trivia contest to testing tower designs built of spaghetti, straws, and string to mock commercials for the latest “technology breakthrough.” The results usually bring tears to the eyes of all present.
The SWC also features an awards ceremony to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the small wind industry. Last year’s awardees were Dennis Scanlin, Ed.D. of Appalachian State University for Outstanding Educator, and Gary Harcourt of Great Rock Windpower as Small Wind Installer of the Year.
Because conference space is limited, attendees are screened for small wind industry players and not the general public. Check the SWC website—smallwindconference.com—for updates as well as registration, exhibitor, and sponsorship information. For anyone interested in submitting a presentation proposal, go to smallwindconference.com and click on the “Presentation Proposal Form” on the left side of the page.
Following the SWC, more than 15,000 people will flock to Custer, Wisconsin, for The Energy Fair, one of the largest and longest running renewable energy events in the United States. The Energy Fair—to be held June 19-21, 2015—is hosted by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and is open to the general public. Learn more at midwestrenew.org/energyfair.
Mick Sagrillo (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches and consults about wind power, and has powered his home with wind since 1982.