The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative launched its 4th Annual Meeting today to celebrate progress, examine challenges, and forge new partnerships and priorities related to wind energy in the Great Lakes region.
In his opening remarks, Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, recognized the region’s progress by highlighting the 12,000 megawatts of wind energy installed in the Great Lakes region. His remarks also pointed to creation of more than 750,000 jobs and nearly $80 billion in overall economic development benefits that could accrue if 20 percent of the region’s electric power came from wind.
Greg White, commissioner at the Michigan Public Service Commission, elaborated on one of the challenges facing wind in the Great Lakes: upgrading the nation’s transmission grid to more readily accommodate new sources of power. “Don’t accept the thinking that changing the grid isn’t possible,” White told participants. “Groups like the GLWC have a critical role to play in laying the groundwork for sound policies.”
As of December 2010, the Great Lakes region had more than 12,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity, with Minnesota and Illinois as the largest contributors. Congestion and lack of access to transmission has overshadowed much of the national policy debate about increasing renewables. Addressing transmission is essential to enabling the Great Lakes states to meet their renewable energy goals.
Noting the environmental advantages of wind compared to other forms of energy production, GLWC Co-chair Terry Yonker challenged the meeting participants to “redefine wind power as a baseload capacity when it is integrated into a geographically diverse smartgrid.”
Sharing information about what each state and province is doing is an important part of these meetings, noted Great Lakes Wind Collaborative Co-chair Mark Clevey of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. “But at the end of the day, regional progress to meet clean and renewable energy is more than the sum of the individual jurisdictions. Only the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative considers the environmental, economic and social aspects of wind energy at a regional scale where the greatest benefits are likely to accrue.”
P.J. Saliterman of OwnEnergy, one of the day’s panelists, echoed this notion. “With immediate and continued innovation from the wind supply chain, the Great Lakes region stands to gain a disproportionate benefit due to the region’s inherent manufacturing capabilities.”
More than 100 people are participating in the three-day event. Attendees include wind developers, utilities, manufacturers, federal, state and local agencies, academic institutions, and environmental organizations from across the binational region and beyond.
The remaining topics to be discussed include Ontario’s Green Energy Act, coastal and marine spatial planning, and offshore wind. The meeting is taking place at the Eaglecrest Marriott in Ypsilanti, Mich., and will run until noon on Thursday, Sept. 22.
The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative (GLWC) is multi-sector coalition of wind energy stakeholders working to facilitate the sustainable development of wind power in the binational Great Lakes region. For more information about the GLWC, see www.glc.org/projects/energy/wind/.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by James Tierney, assistant commissioner for water resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.