Michael O'Neil / Island Institute

2015 Island Energy Conference participants at Congregation Bet Ha'am in South Portland

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.
View the program here

View photos here

Keynote speakers:

Senator Angus KingAs Maine’s first Independent Senator, Angus 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. For more information, visit his website.

Click here for a video of Senator King's address. 


AlexAnna SalmonIgiugig Village Council President AlexAnna Salmon 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.

  Click here to view Ms. Salmon's slides


In the News: 

To Find Energy Solutions, Maine's Small Islands Look to Peers in Other States - By Susan Sharon, MPBN. 11/10/2015

In Maine’s remotest island community, changing the lightbulb has far-reaching implications - By Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald. 11/8/2015

Islands lead in 'energy revolution' says Sen. King - By Tom Groening, Working Waterfront. 11/13/2015

Maine's diesel islands find a role model, 3,500 miles away - By Ben Algeo and Maren Granstrom, Island Institute Blog. 

2015 Panel Lineup:

Industry Partner Session - Island Communities as Customers: So you think you’ve got the solution?  

Customer discovery is a key component in creating valuable products that fit market needs. Many energy companies are targeting island communities as their customers, but have sometimes struggled to demonstrate that they understand the goals, needs, and pain points of this market sector. The New England Clean Energy Council, ArtScience Group, and the Island Institute hosted a refresher on how to communicate with, and learn from, island community leaders (i.e. potential customers!) and understand how to share your solutions and products with this customer segment. 

Presenters: Allexe Law, ArtScience Group- view slides; Kim Herb, Northeast Clean Energy Council

State of the Islands

In the six years since the inaugural Island Energy Conference, island communities around New England have made great strides in implementing energy projects that are lowering energy costs and building stronger, more sustainable local energy systems. With new technologies, new strategies and a network of emerging leaders, the needle is moving in the right direction. Our panel of island energy experts kicked off the conference by reflecting on the state of energy action in New England’s offshore communities, highlighting past accomplishments, present trends and what’s on the horizon for the future.

Presenters: Misty Conrad, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Marian Chioffi, Monhegan; Paul Elias, Naushon Trust; Lawrence Mott, Sgurr Energy; Sam Saltonstall, Peaks Island

Island Energy Project Pitch

New to the conference this year, this interactive plenary session featured quick pitches from island energy leaders outlining their projects and soliciting feedback on new approaches, new technologies, technical resources and funding opportunities. Audience members - including other island leaders, technical experts, industry representatives, and policymakers - asked questions and provided input on the projects in order to help shape the next round of transformational island energy projects.  

Presenters: Bill Stevens and Sam Chamberlain, Isle au Haut Power Company-  view slides; Clayton Philbrook, Matinicus Plantation Electric Company-  View slides; Gary Friedmann, Bar Harbor Town Council-  View slides

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

New Strategies for Island Energy Projects

Impactful energy projects are moving forward on many islands. One catalyst for change is intergenerational energy action: education and outreach that brings community members of all ages to the table in executing a project. This moderated discussion featured the work of Community Energy Action Teams, groups of energy leaders on Maine islands that are supported by the Island Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take local action.

Presenters: Michelle Brown, Peaks Island; Erin Love, East Casco Bay; Jes and Brownell Stevens and Ben Algeo, Monhegan; Karol Kucinski, Vinalhaven; C.J. Houle, Islesboro

The Solar Panel: Emerging trends in PV

New solar PV projects are being installed at a breakneck pace across the country. Residential PV generation grew by 51% in 2014 alone. Island projects are no exception, with Star Island, Naushon, Martha’s Vineyard, and Appledore all having installed solar recently. However, numerous obstacles to solar deployment exist for island communities in the Gulf of Maine. This panel outlined those barriers to deployment, emerging trends that are working to address them, and the models that could be effective for islands.  Topics included community shared solar, the Maine Public Utilities Commission's recent Value of Solar study, and the future of distributed generation policies.

Presenters: Tuck O'Brien, City of Portland, ME-  view slides; Tim Schneider, Maine Office of the Public Advocate-  view slides; Phil Coupe, ReVision Energy-  view slides; Steven Strong, Solar Design Associates-  view slides

Efficiency Maine's Triennial Plan: Islands Leading the Way on Energy Efficiency

The release of the Efficiency Maine Trust's next three-year plan for statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy programs signals an exciting time for island communities looking to lower their energy costs. This session featured a presentation from Efficiency Maine staff outlining the plan and its implications for the Maine islands, as well as an interactive workshop giving islanders and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and shape the future of energy work on the islands.  

Presenter: Dana Fischer, 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.

Presenters: Kostas Komninos, Aegean Energy Agency - view slides; Misty Conrad, National Renewable Energy Laboratory - view slides; Stephen Walls, U.S. Department of Energy -  view slides

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.

Presenters: Darron Scott, Kodiak Electric Association- view slides; Mike McNeley, Cuttyhunk Island- view slides; Alex Brickett and Mike Rosen, Appledore Island/Shoals Marine Laboratory-  view slides

A Different Kind of Co-op

Cooperatives are cornerstones of many island communities. Electric cooperatives, fishing co-ops, and other community-owned businesses play major roles in island life and commerce. Throughout Maine and New England, cooperative business models are helping communities and individuals take control of how they use and produce energy. This panel featured leaders of cooperatives that are reshaping the way we think about energy and delivering real value to their members.

Presenters: Lynn Benander, Co-op Power -  view slides; Erik Peckar, Vineyard Power - view slides; Tom McAloon, Swan's Island Electric Cooperative -  view slides

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.

Presenters: Chris Rose, Renewable Energy Alaska Project - view slides; Steve Clemmer, Union of Concerned Scientists - view slides;  Richard Andre, Vineyard Power -  view slides

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.  

Presenters: Bill Penn, Deepwater Wind - view slides; Val Stori, Clean Energy States Alliance -  view slides; Sarah Klain, University of British Columbia -  view slides

The group on Star Island, NH

Star Island Trip

On Saturday, November 7 a group of more than 40 toured Star Island, New Hampshire in the Isles of Shoals. Star Island Corporation has spearheaded several innovative efforts to increase energy efficiency, resource management, and renewable energy usage. The tour highlighedt the island’s unique water treatment system, as well as the 130 kW photovoltaic solar and battery storage system that has drastically reduced the use of generators. We also featured the energy systems on neighboring Appledore island, home of Shoals Marine Laboratory, a research center operated collaboratively by the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University.

TEDxDirigo: Bounce

Island Institute Community Energy Director Suzanne MacDonald and 15+ other presenters were featured at the November 7 TEDxDirigo: Bounce, an annual convergence of curious, engaged, and passionate people that brings the world’s best ideas. 

Our 2015 supporters include




Participating Sponsors:
  • ReVision Energy
  • Royal River Heat Pumps
  • Northern Reliability
  • Heatek Energy
  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
  • Pika Energy
  • Maine Solar Solutions