Maine Wind Industry Initiative (MWII) organized a major presence for the State of Maine at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WindPower 2010 Conference in Dallas Texas last week. WindPower is the world’s largest wind energy conference (and largest energy trade show in the US) with over 20,000 participants this year.
The Maine Wind Industry Pavilion hosted 11 Maine companies and the AEWC at the University of Maine. The Maine industry members illustrated the commitment as leaders of northeast wind development, and wind services worldwide with one of the most significant state exhibits at an event that featured nearly 1,400 company exhibits in an area over six football fields. The delegation of Maine business leaders came with 2 major messages: Maine is prepared to provide clean energy solutions for our country and Maine businesses and workers have the talent to build these solutions.
The Maine Wind Industry Pavilion was an industry led and funded effort to promote the states capabilities. The exhibit differed from other regional and state exhibits that were mostly sponsored by government economic development efforts. Thus the Maine presentation provided strong solution competencies at a conference with 48 state exhibits and 22 country exhibits. The Maine Wind Industry Initiative is working to increase the number of local wind industry jobs by developing the supply chain in state, and by promoting Maine wind energy services to the worldwide market.
The Maine Companies represented a cross section of the Maine wind supply chain and included: Bath Iron Works, SGC engineering, Kenway Corporation, Sargent Corporation, The Maine Composites Alliance (MCA), Larken Enterprises, The Maine Port Authority, Cianbro, Sprague Energy, MAM/Utilities Service Group, Bangor Hydro and the AEWC.
During the opening ceremonies on Monday morning, Maine was referenced at the forefront of wind energy through references to development of deepwater offshore wind, The Fox Island community wind project and the rapid growth of onshore wind installations. Dr Habib Dagher of the AEWC also embodied Maine leadership through moderating the offshore technical session.
On Tuesday afternoon the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and Cianbro sponsored and hosted a networking event to draw attention to the state’s assets. This event attracted hundreds of serious company representatives interested in doing business with Maine.
The exhibit and the efforts by Maine businesses to illustrate the market potential, state and local support, and technical capabilities are all part of the initiative to attract additional investment to the state of Maine. This investment will translate directly to manufacturing and service jobs bringing new clean sources of energy to the United States. So far Maine has received over $750 million dollars of wind energy investment, and there remain significant opportunities for further investment.
So far, a majority of the investments into Maine wind energy has gone towards construction. With Maine goals of installing a combined 8,000 megawatts of wind energy onshore and offshore, and with the fact that Maine is at the center of the Northeast US/Eastern Canadian region that is planning to develop over 20,000 megawatts during the next 15 years, wind energy represents an opportunity for billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs. A majority of those jobs will be related to manufacturing. MWII is focused on developing local content and adding manufacturing opportunities for Maine workers to the already growing number of wind construction and service jobs.
At the conference AWEA CEO Denise Bode said “without a firm national commitment, renewable energy, America is competing with one hand tied behind its back. Companies investing here in US in new wind turbine component manufacturing facilities are doing so on a leap of faith in the enormous potential of the American market.”
Meanwhile the State of Maine Government has already made legislative commitment to wind development. The proactive stance of Maine companies in combination with the state commitments are part of a strategy to attract those manufacturing facilities to Maine. The substantial wind resources in Maine also provide additional incentives.
The 2010 WindPower conference comes on the heels of the Governor Baldacci proclaimed Maine Wind Week (May 9-15) which included wind site tours, open houses and culminated with the Maine Wind Blade Challenge high school competition. The WindPower Conference also hosted the Texas Wind Blade Challenge organized by the educational group Kid Wind. MWII and MCA presented the Maine Wind Blade Challenge results, information and a video at WindPower to Kid Wind and educators at the conference. The Maine Wind Blade Challenge represents another area of national leadership by being the country’s largest contest of its kind with over 200 student participants from 40 Maine high school teams.
The Maine Wind Industry Initiative was also represented by a number of additional member companies that exhibited independently including: Reed & Reed, Sewall Company, Delorme, TRC, TetraTech, Sterling Rope, Stantec and Normandeau Associates. These companies worked in cooperation with MWII to promote the state while highlighting these companies’ capabilities.
MWII has already reserved space for the AWEA WindPower 2011 conference which will be in Anaheim, CA next May. Photos and a video from the WindPower 2010 conference will be posted online in coming days at www.mainewindindustry.com.
Maine Wind Industry Initiative Director and Industry Coordinator
Augusta and Portland, Maine