Harvesting Clean Energy Conference tackles wind with a western focus

31 January 2014 by Jeff Anthony

Wind energy in the United States now totals 61,108 MW—enough to power the equivalent of 15.3 million homes. Now that’s what you call a mainstream energy source for America.

From an industry perspective, one indication of wind energy’s arrival is the breadth and quality of events related to the clean, renewable source. These days, they are taking place all across the country. The latest case in point: the 2014 Harvesting Clean Energy Conference, which happens Feb. 4-6, in Helena, Mont.

The event, of which AWEA is a proud sponsor, is held each year in a different city in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, or Montana. The February conference will be the 13th in the series.


Photo credit: Kim Chelius

The western location of “Harvesting Clean Energy” is particularly appropriate because AWEA’s WINDPOWER 2014 Conference & Exhibition takes place in Las Vegas, May 5-8. Thus, “Harvesting Clean Energy” in a sense helps kickoff the countdown to WINDPOWER 2014.

While the conference will cover a number of energy sources ranging from solar to micro-hydro, wind, not surprisingly, will feature prominently on the agenda. For starters, AWEA Senior Vice President for Public Policy Rob Gramlich will share his expertise as a plenary speaker at the event.

Also on the agenda is a session titled “Economic and Social Impacts from Wind Energy Projects,” which will allow attendees to get the latest information on wind energy projects’ social and economic impacts on rural communities. A panel of expert speakers, moderated by Dan Lloyd from the Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will discuss how local governments are effectively working with developers to maximize benefits, while helping to minimize challenges to project development. The session will examine the impact of small- and medium-scale projects as well.

Another session that promises to draw interest from anyone connected with or interested in wind energy is “Overcoming Obstacles to Wind Development.” What are the most common factors that can derail an otherwise good project? Panelists will closely examine that and other questions. They’ll discuss the most common challenges to wind development, explain their methods for ensuring project success, and discuss considerations for both project developers and landowners when considering wind power development. That panel will feature Moderator Brian Spangler of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Brian Rogan of Gordon Butte Wind, Michael Cressner of Orion Renewable Energy, and Steve Tyrrel of Montana Wind Systems.

Another intriguing aspect of the conference is that it’s organized around five subject tracks. Interestingly enough, those tracks are defined more by theme rather than by energy source:

  • Track A. The Big Picture: Economic and Environmental Realities of Clean Energy
  • Track B. Innovations and the Future of Clean Energy
  • Track C. Getting a Clean Energy Project Off the Ground
  • Track D. Risk and Rural Resiliency—How Climate Change is Affecting Rural Business, Agriculture, Forestry, and Outdoor Recreation
  • Track E. Alternative Niche Markets: Downstream Opportunities

For more information about the conference and to register, go to the conference website.  One-day and student registration are available, as are Continuing Education credits. So check out  http://harvestcleanenergy.org.

Meanwhile, the countdown begins for WINDPOWER 2014. Check the website (and check it regularly) for registration, hotel, exhibition, and other information. You can also follow @AWEAEvents on Twitter for updates on WINDPOWER and join the WINDPOWER discussion by using the official hashtag #WINDPOWER14.