On October 18 and 19, 2013 the Island Institute hosted the fourth annual Island Energy Conference. The Island Energy Conference brings together island leaders and energy experts to discuss common energy challenges and to learn more about resources that exist to address these challenges.

The 2013 conference expanded to include more participants, new topics, and networking opportunities with industry experts. The conference also highlighted the work of one Maine island to raise community awareness of and participation in energy-saving activities. This year’s Island Energy Innovation Award was given to the Peaks Environmental Action Team (PEAT) for its growing commitment to community-based energy action on Peaks and, in particular, for the group’s efforts to increase home energy efficiency by helping to weatherize over 100 homes and building over 270 interior storm window inserts.

Through small group discussions and presentations from islanders and other energy professionals, the conference covered a range of topics, including:

  • Emerging Ocean Renewable Energy Technologies: Updates from the Water 
  • Resources for Energy Efficiency: Efficiency Maine 
  • Innovative Energy Financing Models 
  • Leadership and Management of Island Energy Projects 
  • Innovation on Diesel Islands 
  • Renewable Energy Resource Assessment 
  • Community-scale Energy Efficiency Projects 
  • Alternative Heating Systems 
  • New Developments in Offshore Wind: A Roundtable Discussion 
  • Resources for Energy Efficiency: USDA Rural Development   
  • Diversifying Your Renewable Energy Portfolio 
  • Innovative Outreach Models: Island "Weatherization Weeks"

The conference also featured a Saturday field trip to North Haven for hands-on training and a tour of community energy initiatives on the island. Participants toured the Turner Farm and its new wood gasification boiler heating system, discussed the Fox Islands Wind project, learned about the North Haven Community School’s energy initiatives, and participated in an interior storm window inserts workshop along with members of North Haven Sustainable Housing.

See below for descriptions of each of the panels, presentations, and recordings from select panels. For more information on the 2013 Island Energy Conference, contact Suzanne MacDonald.

2013 Island Energy Conference Session Descriptions

Emerging Ocean Renewable Energy Technologies: Updates from the Water

Over the past year, Maine has made history by hosting the first grid-connected tidal energy turbine in the United States, Ocean Renewable Power Company’s TidGen project in Cobscook Bay. Months later, the University of Maine installed VolturnUS, the country’s first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in Castine Harbor. Participants in this session heard from experts in the field about exciting developments in ocean renewable energy and where the industry is headed. Presenters included: Nate Johnson, Ocean Renewable Power Company and Damian Brady, University of Maine.

Diversifying Your Renewable Energy Portfolio

Island communities around the world are reducing their energy costs and increasing the reliability and sustainability of their grids by adding renewable sources, storage capacity and microgrid technology. Participants in this session learned about how Roque Island (ME), the Isle of Eigg (UK), and Alcatraz Island (CA) have integrated multiple renewable systems and how storage and microgrid systems are making this possible. Presenters included: Anna Demeo, College of the Atlantic; Maggie Fyffe and Eddie Scott, Isle of Eigg; and Matt Koenig, Princeton Power Systems.

Resources for Energy Efficiency: USDA Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program offers a suite of resources to rural communities, businesses, agricultural producers and homeowners. In this panel, USDA staff provided an overview of grants and loans available for island energy projects, eligibility requirements, and application procedures. Presenters included: Beverly Stone, Darrin Dyer, and Amanda Burke, USDA Rural Development.

Resources for Energy Efficiency: Efficiency Maine

Efficiency Maine provides incentives and financing for energy efficiency projects throughout the state of Maine. Executive Director Michael Stoddard and Residential Program Manager Dana Fischer discussed programs and incentives available to Maine’s island businesses, community organizations and homeowners, and listened to feedback on about how to make Efficiency Maine incentives more accessible to island communities.

Innovative Energy Financing Models

Ever wondered what a PPA is and how it works? Don’t understand net energy billing? This session covered new and innovative models for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in New England’s island homes and communities. Presenters included: Clay Mitchell, Revolution Energy; and Sue Jones, Community Energy Partners.

Leadership and Management of Island Energy Projects

Islanders seeking to improve their local energy systems can face a host of challenges. Strong leadership and organizational management are essential in confronting these challenges and achieving energy goals. Participants in this session learned about resources available to support local cooperatives and businesses and how leaders are putting these tools to work in order to improve their chances of success. Presenters included: Ed Schwabe, Swan’s Island Electric Cooperative; Marian Chioffi, Monhegan Plantation Power District; and Lauren Sinatra, Nantucket Energy Office.

Innovation on Diesel Islands

Islands burning diesel to generate electricity face some of the highest energy costs in the country. This moderated roundtable discussion brought together energy leaders from some of these diesel-dependent islands to discuss their unique challenges, as well as the innovative approaches they are taking to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower rates. Participants for this roundtable discussion included representatives from Cuttyhunk, MA; Matinicus, ME; Monhegan, ME; Naushon, MA; and Star Island, NH.

Renewable Energy Resource Assessment

One of the first steps in building a successful renewable energy project is assessing the strength of your renewable resource. Participants in this session learned how to use tools and practical applications to assess renewable resource potential in their communities and determine whether a given energy technology is technically and economically feasible. Presenters included: Mick Womersley, Unity College; John Luft, ReVision Energy; and Glen Marquis, Ocean Renewable Power Company.

Community-Scale Energy Efficiency Projects

Island communities can face unique challenges when trying to implement efficiency programs. Participants in this panel learned about how some island (Bainbridge Island, WA) and mainland (Boothbay, ME) communities have found innovative solutions to these challenges by leveraging the strength of collective efforts and targeted measures to drive widespread changes in energy use. This session featured presentations by energy experts who have implemented community-scale programs, as well as tips on how to drive community-scale projects in island communities. Presenters included: Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine; Cathie Currie, Puget Sound Energy; and Yvonne Kraus, Conservation Services Group.

Alternative Heating Systems

Heat pumps, pellet boilers and other alternative heating systems are becoming more affordable, more efficient, and more available to island communities every year. Panelists in this session discussed how switching fuels and heating systems can help your home, business or community building reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. Presenters included: Pat Coon, reVision heat; Nancy Chandler, Bangor Hydro/Maine Public Service Company; and Dana Fischer, Efficiency Maine.

New Developments in Offshore Wind: A Roundtable Discussion

As many East Coast states race to develop offshore wind projects, island communities find themselves in discussions with developers, regulators and researchers. This session focused on how islanders are engaging in this process and pursuing benefits for their communities. Participants for this roundtable discussion included residents of Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard, Monhegan, Nantucket and Naushon.

Learn more about the IEC and past conferences here.