Hosted by the Island Institute and the Islanded Grid Resource Center, the sixth annual Island Energy Conference included speakers and panels on Friday, November 6, and a site visit to Star Island, NH, which hosts Northern New England’s largest offshore photovoltaic array, on Saturday, November 7. The Island Energy Innovation Award was presented to the Block Island community and Deewater Wind in recognition of their leadership in community-developer relations in the creation of America’s first offshore wind farm.
Highlights for Islanded Grids
Maine’s Independent Senator, Angus King delivered the first keynote address. Senator King is a strong advocate for island communities. With energy as one of his core areas of interest, Senator King currently sits on the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He has developed and supported energy projects, including efficiency and renewable energy, for more than thirty years. In his keynote, he observed that “we are in the midst of an energy revolution and the islands are Bunker Hill,” highlighting the important role that island communities are playing in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Igiugig Village Council President AlexAnna Salmon gave the second keynote address. AlexAnna was raised in the Village of Igiugig, Alaska. In 2008, she graduated from Dartmouth College and returned to work for the Igiugig Tribal Village Council as President and Acting Administrator. Her leadership has seen energy efficiency measures flourish in Igiugig, as well as the establishment of a number of innovative renewable energy projects including a hydropower system designed by the Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company. She recently became the Project Director for a language revitalization program, and is a mother of four. Her presentation highlighted the similarities between remote villages in Alaska and New England island communities.
MICROGRIDS: REVENGE OF THE UNICORNS
At last year’s Island Energy Conference, we dispelled the myth that microgrids don’t exist in New England, featuring several off-grid projects around the region that are now up and running. This year’s session featured the lessons learned from operators of island microgrids in the region and beyond including developments in energy storage technology and best practices for installation, grid integration, operation, and maintenance.
HEATING FUEL ACCESSIBILITY IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES
Heating fuel accessibility encompasses pricing as well as reliability. Island communities are often at a disadvantage on both counts. In order to create a more reliable and affordable fuel market, dealers, communities, and individual islanders are using innovative strategies to diversify the fuels used and decrease reliance on expensive and intermittent fossil fuel deliveries. Presenters provided updates from some of these innovators, and explained where the issue of fuel accessibility will likely head in the future.
Presenters: Dennis Meiners, Intelligent Energy Systems; Pete Pellerin, Maine Island Energy; Dana Fisher, Efficiency Maine- view slides
LESSONS FROM ABROAD: PLANNING AND NETWORKING FOR ISLAND ENERGY SUCCESS AROUND THE WORLD
Islands can serve as test beds of energy innovation. While there is plenty of innovation happening right in our backyard, it is also helpful to look abroad for new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. This year’s international panel featured examples of islands from around the world that are planning for their energy futures and networking with other islands to share what works.
ISLAND ENERGY POLICY UPDATES
What is the Clean Power Plan and what does it mean for my island? What is the definition of a microgrid? How might new state and federal policies affect my island energy project? This panel discussed these questions and more, highlighting recent policy developments with implications for New England islands.
OFFSHORE WIND: LOOKING BACK, MOVING FORWARD
With construction underway on the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., offshore wind is once again making headlines along the East Coast and the time is right to reflect on what communities and developers have learned from the past several years of work in this field. This panel featured updates from groundbreaking projects such as the Block Island Wind Farm and Offshore MW’s proposal off of Martha’s Vineyard, and highlight how lessons from New England projects are informing research on best practices for local engagement.