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Wind Power Conference Coming to Charlotte

The inaugural Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference kicks off Thursday at the Charlotte Convention Center with about 300 attendees expected. State governments and industry groups will seek ways to collaborate on developing major wind projects in the region.

“What motivates a lot of state efforts on developing wind energy is jobs, and that often leaves one state competing against another to attract projects to them,” says Brian O’Hara, president of the Offshore Wind Coalition in North Carolina and one of the organizers of the conference. “The significance of this conference is we are seeking among several states to collaborate so we compete over a bigger slice of the wind-energy pie.”

The state commerce secretaries from North Carolina and Virginia will participate in a panel discussion Thursday with a South Carolina state senator on economic development efforts in those states.

Central location

On Friday a panel of developers will discuss opportunities, challenges, and policy considerations for both offshore and land-based wind in the Southeast. The panel includes representatives from Duke Energy Renewables, Atlantic Wind Connection and Invenergy .

In all, 45 government officials, academics, industry experts and renewable energy advocates will participate in 12 sessions covering a host of policy, resource and logistics issues for the industry.

A number of organizations, including the N.C. Sierra Club, participated in organizing the wind conference. O’Hara says Charlotte was chosen because it is centrally located to Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia — all of which will have participants involved in the conference — and because of its increasing role as a hub for the energy industry. Duke Energy is the conference’s principal sponsor.

State and federal officials

The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with a keynote address from Ned Farquhar, the deputy assistant Secretary of the Interior — a recognized expert on renewable energy and natural resource policy. There will be breakout sessions throughout the day before a general session at 3:30 p.m. with N.C. Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, Virginia Commerce Secretary James Cheng and S.C. State Senator Bradley Hutto.

The sessions resume Friday morning and will conclude with the developer panel discussion at 10:30 a.m. The panel will be moderated by Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition.

Panelists are: Tony Dorazio, senior vice president of wind development for Duke Renewables, operator of more than 1,000 megawatts worth of wind farms; Markian Melnyk, a principle for Atlantic Wind Connection, which plans to build the infrastructure to bring off-shore wind power into the PJM Interconnect system in charge of power transmission from Virginia through Pennsylvania and Ohio; and David Groberg, the vice president of business development for Invenergy, the Chicago-based renewable and clean energy company.

Other participants in the smaller sessions include O’Hara; Michael Goggin, manager of transmission policy for the American Wind Energy Association; Tom Weinandy, industrial manager for ABB Inc., which has manufacturing and research sites in Charlotte, Raleigh and South Carolina; Paul Quinlan, managing director of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association; and Joe Cerchiaro, a member of the energy team at Nucor Corp.


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