Maren Granstrom

2017 Island Energy Conference participants at Congregation Bet Ha'am in South Portland

The 7th annual Island Energy Conference brought together 150 island leaders and energy experts—from 3 countries and 6 states—in South Portland, Maine, on Friday, April 28, 2017, to discuss common energy challenges and to learn more about resources that exist to address these challenges. This year’s theme, Charting Transitions, highlighted how New England’s islands are charting the course toward a sustainable energy future, mapping out their transitions to clean energy systems that strengthen local communities and economies. Presentations included information on microgrids and energy storage, offshore wind, community-based approaches to solar, proactive approaches to community energy issues and efficiency projects in remote places, and engaging and empowering youth with community energy initiatives. 

At the event, the Island Institute recognized two groups for their work as energy leaders and champions for Maine’s island communities. The Island Energy Innovation Award was presented to the Monhegan Plantation Power District for recent upgrades made to the island’s power station which will create cleaner emissions and incorporate renewable energy into the island grid, and the Island Institute Community Champion Award was presented to the board and staff of the Swan’s Island Electric Cooperative for their work in securing a pathway for affordable electric power for the people of Swan’s Island and Frenchboro.

View the 2017 conference program here

View event photos here

IEC 2017 by the numbers - infographic

Welcome address

U.S. Senator Susan Collins 

First elected in 1996, Senator Collins has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. Senator Collins ranks fifteenth in Senate seniority and is the most senior Republican woman. She chairs the Senate Select Committee on Aging and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and also serves on the Intelligence Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Known for her Maine work ethic, Senator Collins has never missed a vote in her twenty years in office – more than 6,000 votes in a row.

Click here for a video of the recorded remarks by Senator Collins

Keynote speaker

Tetsunari Iida
Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies

Tetsunari Iida is a leading authority on renewable energy, and a “Social Innovator” who has introduced ecological initiatives as Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), a non-profit and independent research institute. He has proposed nuclear-free energy policies, as well as community-based renewable energy projects in Japan as Secretary-General of the Japan Community Power Association. 

He played a central role as co-chair of the executive committee for the “1st World Community Power Conference” which was held in Fukushima city on November 3-4, 2016. The conference was the product of the joint efforts of ISEP, the Japan Community Power Association and the World Wind Energy Association. At the conference, Iida received the World Wind Energy Honorary Award 2016 for extraordinary personal achievements in his promotion of community power.

The ISEP and Island Institute are working with the Energy Academy in Samso, Denmark and others from around the world on sharing practical solutions to island energy challenges. 

Click here for a copy of the keynote presentation from Tetsunari Iida

In the News

Island Institute recognizes energy innovation at annual conference - by Staff, Penobscot Bay Pilot, 5/3/2017

Island Institute honors energy leaders - by Staff, Courier-Gazette, 5/5/2017

2017 Panel Lineup

New Energy; Empowering Community Leadership

Sometimes community energy initiatives need a spark, a new voice with a unique perspective. This session will feature island and remote communities that are infusing new energy into their local projects by building leadership capacity and engaging youth.

Presentations: Shaina Kilcoyne, Renewable Energy Alaska Project; Ryan Martin, Islesboro Central School; Emillia Noordhoek, Sust-‘āina-ble Molokai

Moderated by: Harry Podolsky, Island Institute

Offshore Wind: Emerging from the Deep

With the Block Island Wind Farm up and running, the U.S. offshore wind industry is picking up speed. From New England to Hawaii, islands will continue to be at the forefront of American offshore wind development. This session will feature updates and reflections on effective community engagement strategies from Monhegan, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Hawaii.

Presentations: Marian Chioffi, Monhegan Energy Task Force;  Richard Andre, Vineyard Power Bill Penn, Block Island Power Company Jake Ward, Maine Aqua Ventus; Mark Glick, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

Moderated by: Tyler Studds, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

The Solar Panel: Community-Based Approaches to Solar

While many states are debating the future of solar policy, communities are finding ways to move ahead with solar projects. In this panel, islanders and solar experts will share their outlook on the future of solar for island communities.

Presentations: Chris Loder, Chebeague Island; Gary Friedmann, A Climate to Thrive (Mount Desert Island); Sharon Klein, University of Maine

Moderated by: Brooks Winner, Island Institute

Energy Transitions: Taking a Proactive Approach to Energy Challenges

Island communities often find themselves reacting to energy issues as they arise. When a generator breaks down or cable fails, a solution must be found or the lights don’t stay on. Preparing for these issues before they occur takes foresight and planning. This session will feature islanders who are taking a proactive approach to their community’s energy issues.

Presentations: Jim Wilson, Isle au Haut Power Company Jim Balano, Monhegan Energy Planning Committee; Erik Peckar, Vineyard Power

Moderated by: Stephen Walls, U.S. Department of Energy

Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap: Innovative Approaches to Efficency Projects in Remote Places

Over the past four years, nearly 20% of the year-round island homes in Maine have been weatherized through collective purchasing programs spearheaded by community energy leaders. Collective purchasing and other strategies are helping break down the barriers to energy efficiency and connecting rural communities with financing for energy upgrades. Learn from islanders who are tackling energy challenges in their communities, and the mainland professionals who run the programs that are helping communities scale up participation in energy efficiency.

Presentations: Paddy Trainor, Vinalhaven Energy Club Kim Horyn, SmartPower (Nantucket, MA) Katie Conway, Alaska Energy Authority

Moderated by: Dana Fischer, Efficiency Maine Trust

Microgrids & Energy Storage: Battle Stories from the Front Lines of the Energy Revolution

At the last Island Energy Conference, Senator Angus King observed that “we are in the midst of an energy revolution, and the islands are Bunker Hill.” New England’s off-grid islands are installing innovative projects and they have the battle scars to prove it. This session will feature the projects that are leading the charge in the transition to clean energy from Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Alaska.

Presentations: Paul Elias, Naushon Trust Chris Smith, Monhegan Plantation Power District Dick Case, Star Island Corporation

Moderated by Chris Rose, Renewable Energy Alaska Project

Monhegan Island Visit: Saturday, April 29

The 2017 Island Energy Conference featured a trip to Monhegan Island on Saturday, April 29. This small island community, located 12 miles off the coast of Maine, is famous for its striking scenery, world-class birding, and singular character. Monhegan’s remote location also creates a unique set of energy challenges, and residents have adopted innovative strategies to meet those challenges.

A group of more than 50 people learned about recent upgrades to the island’s power station including its solar diesel hybrid system, as well as locally-driven energy efficiency and community planning efforts.

The trip included a visit to the Monhegan Island School to learn about their recent LED retrofit and energy education programs on the island; a tour of the Monhegan Power Station and its solar diesel hybrid system; and a tour of the Monhegan Museum featuring current and planned energy upgrades. In addition, the group heard presentations from community members, sponsors, and local organizations, which included a presentation from Monhegan Brewing Company on the challenges of doing business on a remote island.

For more information on Monhegan's energy projects, check out the most recent energy profile:   Monhegan Energy Profile

Thank you to our 2017 partners and sponsors!