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Iowa Lakes CC hosts first-ever IWEA convention

By Staff | Mar 29, 2008

Randy Van Dyke of Iowa Lakes Regional Water and Iowa Lakes president Dr. Harold Prior address the first-ever convention of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

If there was any doubt as to Iowa Lakes Community College’s leadership in the wind energy, it was all over on Thursday.

Representatives of the wind energy industry, public utilities, and higher education from throughout the state and the country attended the first convention of the Iowa Wind Energy Association hosted by Iowa Lakes Community College. College President Harold Prior has also served as interim president since IWEA first formed several months ago at the college.

Keynote speaker was Governor Chet Culver who placed establishment of an Office of Energy Independence and the $100-million Iowa Power Fund at the center of his campaign for governor.

Prior recalled that five years ago the Iowa Lakes board of trustees first approved the current Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program. It was probably only natural that Iowa Lakes would continue its leadership in the wind energy industry by assisting with marketing materials and developing the IWEA bylaws.

Val New House, Iowa Lakes executive vice president and IWEA interim board member and secretary, noted changes in the bylaws and that board members elected Thursday will take office July 1.

Al Zeitz, director of the Iowa Lakes Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program and interim IWEA Marketing Committee chair, talked about the exposure IWEA received at a wind energy conference he attended in San Diego, Calif. He said the conference helped generate responses from some of the attendees.

Bob L’Heureux, Iowa Lakes CFO and IWEA Membership Committee chair, noted 16 corporate members, 11 governmental/education/nonprofit, six individual, and two student.

Randy Van Dyke, IWEA Legislative Committee chair, outlined the IWEA legislative platform for this year:

n Promote and provide information on wind energy legislation.

n Provide input and react.

n Offer legislation that will benefit the industry.

Van Dyke and other IWEA board members addressed a number of questions from attendees.

Regarding representation of small-scale wind energy producers, Van Dyke said IWEA wants to represent all sectors of the wind energy industry, regardless of size.

Prior agreed that the issue of smaller producers initiated one of the longest discussions initially when IWEA formed.

Another question was on why not combine all forms of alternative energy.

Prior said if that happened, the group would lose its focus on wind energy. He said the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association initially tried to represent all forms of renewable energy. However, he said the ethanol and biodiesel industries are forming their own organizations as well.

John Dunlop, senior engineer of Technical Services with the American Wind Energy Association, the trade association for the U.S. wind energy industry based in Washington, D.C., noted that AWEA had formed quite early, in 1974. Dunlop has also served as an IWEA interim board member.

“I’m very impressed that this organization has continued to meet the need of an every-expanding organization,” said Dunlop, who heads AWEA’s program to improve productivity of existing wind farms.

As an example of AWEA’s growth, Dunlop said 10,000 attended the national convention this year.

“We are continuing to meet the needs of some very large multinational companies,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop addressed a question on renewal of the wind energy tax credit. The three times the tax credit has expired, it has had serious consequences for the industry.