By Anne Reynolds
Half of the ACE NY staff spent this past week in Houston, Texas, at the annual AWEA WINDPOWER2019 conference, which had a theme of Wind +. Between tacos and baseball games, we did find the time to listen, learn, and talk about all of the exciting trends in wind power across the United States. There were many moments of inspiration and some great advice about how to better do our work in New York. There are also moments of empathy and frustration about problems and barriers being put up in Washington DC or any of the far-flung places where wind energy is – or could be – operating to provide pollution-free power.
As this is my 6th WINDPOWER, I’m starting to feel qualified to identify trends. For me, this year’s buzzword: hybrid. Yes, we love hybrid cars and hybrid pea plants (um, this is a genetics joke) but all of the sudden there is ubiquitous talk about hybrid renewable energy projects, like wind + storage, wind + solar, or wind + solar + storage. How do the interconnection rules need to change to accommodate these hybrid projects? How should the RTO market rules change to treat these projects fairly? How does adding storage change the economics of projects?
Another change: offshore wind is definitely and fully in the mainstream, no longer a side conversation at WINDPOWER. When discussing the need for new transmission, it’s not only on land, but also underwater. In fact, it’s tough to find a wind company that isn’t doing offshore, too. Joe Martens, our director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance attended for the first time, stating, “The excitement about offshore wind is palpable. Developers and suppliers are excited by the huge ramp up in state goals and auctions and ready to build on the success in Europe.”
Networking with ACE NY members is one of the best parts of WINDPOWER2019, and we often meet members that we have only known via email, building the relationships that help us understand the challenges faced by developers and how ACE NY can help. Zack Dufresne, our Director of Membership Services also joined us in Houston. “I’m always impressed by our members working in the world of wind energy” said Zack. “From turbine designers and engineers, to component manufacturers, to project developers and permitting teams, it’s great to see everyone coming together in an atmosphere of collaboration and innovation to advance the energy system we all rely on, and I’m proud to be part of ACE NY’s team and mission.”
For myself, I was happily surprised by the updates from D.C. in terms of the level of interest from lawmakers on climate bills. Certainly, climate legislation is a big environmental focus in Albany’s legislature right now, but learning from our AWEA colleagues about how the Green New Deal has spurred interest on both sides of the aisle in Congress was good news.
Finally, another inspiring aspect of Windpower 2019 was the KidWIND Competition. Young students from across the country designed complex wind projects and put them on display. I’m glad I didn’t have to judge them! The student’s projects displayed remarkable sophistication, ingenuity, and bode well for the future of renewable energy.
We return to Albany -- many tacos later – with renewed energy to finish out the legislative session, renew our calls for a better siting process; push progress on offshore wind; and prepare for a 70% RE proceeding at the PSC. Given the emphasis on hybrid projects, offshore wind, and carbon policy at WINDPOWER2019 this year, we reflect how well the ACE NY is set up to tackle these new horizons. Because we are already multi-technology and have long worked in concert with environmental organizations, we feel well positioned to adapt to issues like electrification, wind + solar + storage, and climate bills. Let’s get started!