The 8th annual Island Energy Conference brought together island leaders and energy experts from New England and beyond to discuss common energy challenges and the resources available to address them. This year’s theme, Resilient Together, highlighted what islanders are doing to increase the resilience of their energy systems and communities in the face of an increasingly unpredictable world.

To address this year’s theme of community resiliency, presentations and panel discussions included: lessons learned from the frontlines of energy efficiency, energy innovation in island communities, bridging the energy efficiency gap in rural areas, the role of leadership and local understanding in building sustainability, how to plan for uncertainty, and ideas for creating and maintaining a resilient energy future.

At the event, the Island Institute also presented the Island Energy Innovation Award to the community of Islesboro. The Midcoast island community was recognized with this year’s award for its across-the-board commitment to pursuing clean and efficient island energy systems. View the 2018 conference program here

2018 Photo Gallery

Check out our PHOTO GALLERY for photos from the 2018 Island Energy Conference!

In the News

Welcome Reception: Thursday, May 3

The 2018 Island Energy Conference – Resilient Together kicked off on Thursday, May 3, with a full day of pre-conference workshops and working sessions for industry professionals, followed by a networking reception for all conference attendees at Rising Tide Brewing in Portland, Maine’s iconic Bayside neighborhood. The event also featured a "Women in Energy Meetup" with Island Energy Conference Panelist Veronica Rocha of the Hawaii State Energy Office and WiRE (Women in Renewable Energy), which focused on ways to better connect women in the clean energy field in Maine and beyond with each other and professional development resources.

Friday Keynote: Friday, May 4

Martyn Forde, Rocky Mountain Institute

Caribbean energy expert Martyn Forde spoke to the challenges communities face as they work to rebuild more sustainably in the wake of natural disasters.

Forde is an energy management consultant responsible for the knowledge exchange and capacity building component of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Islands Energy Program. In addition, he is the Community Leader of the CARILEC Renewable Energy Community (CAREC), an online platform designed to enable Caribbean utility companies and energy professionals to share their knowledge on low-carbon technologies and steward organizational knowledge development through webinars, virtual working groups, and workshops. Prior to this role, Forde was a project manager with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), where he was responsible for energy planning and the Island Energy Program’s activities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat. Before joining the Island Energy Program, Martyn assisted the Climate and Energy Program of the Worldwatch Institute with research for the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy.

Prior to his work in the energy field, Martyn was a member of the Barbados National Swimming Team and represented the island in international competitions such as World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Keynote VideoWatch Martyn Forde's keynote here; Keynote Presentation: View a PDF of the keynote presentation here

Featured session

Lightning Talks: Lessons Learned from the Frontlines
As Senator Angus King observed at the 2015 Island Energy Conference, “we are in the middle of an energy revolution, and islands are Bunker Hill.” At the 2017 conference, we explored courses that islands are charting toward their own sustainable energy futures. This year we reflected on the key role that island communities are playing in energy transitions happening throughout the world, and the connections built over past years that make our communities stronger and more resilient together.


Jon Calame, Thermal Efficiency: Eastport (Eastport, ME)

Jon Calame has coordinated the "Thermal Efficiency: Eastport" affordable heat coaching program since 2011, linking fuel poverty with public health outcomes in Washington County.  Previously, he was a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a senior Fulbright Scholar in Cyprus, and Partnerships Manager for the World Monuments Fund.  Mr. Calame is the author of “Divided Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem, Mostar and Nicosia” (UPenn Press, 2007); his training is in urban planning and architectural history.

Alexis Chatzimpiros, Samso Energy Academy/Tentou Project (Denmark)

Alexis holds a Physics Degree and an M.Sc in Energy Production and Management. He has been developing and coordinating international energy and sustainable development projects for 13 years. He has extensive experience in island and sustainable development policies in the EU, advocacy for appropriate policies for local and regional authorities, and coordination of networks. Since 2017 he coordinates an international project aiming to bring together and support communities around the world willing to engage in their own energy transition.

Veronica Rocha, Hawaii State Energy Office

Veronica Rocha leads the Renewable Energy Branch (REB) for the Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO), responsible for Hawaii’s achievement of 100% renewable energy by 2045.  Under her leadership, REB has guided the HSEO on key renewable energy strategies, policies and programs. Veronica also serves as the President of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE), a Hawaii-based non-profit comprised of over 135 members dedicated to providing women a forum to bring about a more sustainable Hawaii powered by clean energy. 

Lauren Sinatra, Town of Nantucket Energy Office (Nantucket, MA)

As the Town of Nantucket’s Energy Coordinator, Lauren works to identify and implement island-wide energy policies, initiatives, and projects that are designed to deliver significant energy savings to local tax payers, while contributing to overall community sustainability and economic development. In her role, she manages the island’s energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy initiatives, such as the local Mass Save Program, a local SOLAR Rebate Program, the Nantucket PowerChoice Municipal Electric Aggregation, the DOER-funded Nantucket Ice Energy AC Replacement Program, HeatSmart Nantucket in partnership with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and the soon-to-be launched Tesla Powerwall Residential Aggregation Pilot, all designed to help Nantucketers reduce energy usage and save on energy-related costs.

Watch the Lightning Talks here

Film Screening

Sharing Solutions in Offshore Wind
Tackling complex issues in small communities can be a challenge but residents of many New England islands have learned that they don't have to go it alone. After years of networking on issues related to offshore wind development, leaders from four New England island communities gathered on Block Island, RI, to continue their discussions and tour the nation's first offshore wind farm in 2017. This short film tells the story of how Block Island leaders are informing the work of their peers in Maine and Massachusetts, sharing their strategies to navigate relationships with wind developers and identify ways to balance impacts with community benefits. 

Watch the film here

2018 Panel Lineup

This year's panel discussions, focused around the theme Resilient Together, included the following:                                 

Leadership for Resilient Communities
One way to build resilience is to build local understanding and leadership around issues of energy and sustainability. This session highlighted programs from around the world that are helping island and remote communities learn from each other about how to make their communities more resilient and more sustainable.

Presentations: George Roe, Alaska Center for Energy and Power;  Larry Bean, Lapointe Energy Committee, Madeline Island, WI; Andrea Russell, College of the Atlantic;  Kyle Coulam, Clinton Climate Initiative

Moderated by: Brooks Winner, Island Institute

Pushing the Envelope: Innovation on the Waterfront       
We often say that islands are microcosms for the rest of the world that can provide a view to the future. This panel featured some of the island communities that are pushing the envelope, reimagining what the energy systems of the future might look like and taking bold steps to ensure that their communities are vibrant, resilient places for generations to come.​

Presentations: Chris Smith, Monhegan Plantation Power District; Jim Wilson, Isle au Haut Power Company;  Chris Rose, Renewable Energy Alaska Project 

Moderated by: Stephanie Nowers, KIS Consulting      

Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap
Rural communities pay higher energy costs than their urban counterparts, so the case for energy efficiency is compelling. However, it can be difficult to get energy efficiency upgrades done in rural areas. This session featured community-based outreach models that are bridging the gap between remote places and the resources necessary to make homes warmer, more affordable, and more energy efficient.

Presentations: Sarah Brock, Vital Communities; Natalie Hanson, Nuvista Light and Electric Cooperative; Brooks Winner, Island Institute

Moderated by: Katie Conway, Alaska Energy Authority

Planning for Uncertainty
In 2017, natural disasters caused over $300 billion in damages in the U.S., a new annual record. Island communities are often some of the hardest hit when disaster strikes and their remoteness makes it even more essential that their systems be built for resilience in an uncertain climate. This session featured stories and lessons learned from islands that are planning for uncertainty and building resilient energy systems.  

Presentations: Clay Koplin, Cordova Electric Cooperative; Tracy Fredericks and James Stockman, Block Island Power Company;  Heidi Jernigan Smith, Tideland Electric Membership Corporation, Ocracoke, NC  

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

Jack Sullivan/Island Institute

The conference group stands in front of the solar project at Islesboro Central School during Saturday's site visit to Islesboro.

Island Site Visit – Islesboro, Maine: Saturday, May 5 

The 2018 Island Energy Conference featured a trip to the island of Islesboro. Conference guests were invited to take part in a special site visit to Islesboro to visit the newly-installed solar installations at the school and town office and hear more about the locally-driven energy efficiency and community planning efforts from the island residents. 

Through the efforts of community groups and island organizations, residents, and municipal leaders, this has included: weatherization and interior storm window insert services provided to dozens of homes; facility-wide LED lighting retrofits at Islesboro Central School and a small solar project that helps power the school greenhouse funded through grant applications written by the students; the creation of an ad-hoc energy committee by the town Select Board; and voter support for municipal solar that has resulted in a large photovoltaic array on the roof of the town office.

Thank you to our 2018 partners and sponsors!








  • E2 Tech
  • Eaton Peabody, Attorneys at Law
  • The Financial Engineering Company / Michael Hubbard, P.E.
  • INroof Solar
  • Maine Green Power
  • Penobscot Home Performance
  • Revision Energy
  • Rising Tide Brewing Company
  • Vergent Power Solutions