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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!