The Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition recently concluded its tenth annual event, November 13-14, 2017 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, NE. This year’s conference attracted over 325 attendees, 28 exhibitors, and featured 38 speakers from the wind and solar industries. Individuals came from across the country to participate in 18 general session and workshop presentations that shared the latest and best information on wind and solar energy development. A diverse set of stakeholders that included private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental interests, wildlife interests, public utilities, as well as the public at large attended.
Conference attendees were welcomed on Monday by Mayor Chris Beutler, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, and Nebraska Energy Office Director, David Bracht, who provided an update on the status of wind and solar development in Nebraska. Keynote speaker, Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association, opened up the general sessions with an overview of the “State of the National Wind Industry” and state senators provided a policy and legislative update just before lunch. Noon luncheon speakers were executives of the three largest Nebraska public utilities — LES, OPPD, and NPPD. Monday afternoon consisted of breakout sessions featuring first-hand experience from Nebraska’s wind project landowners, an update on the R-Project from Tom Kent of NPPD, solar and battery storage, and how to balance community concerns.
George Ashton of Sol Systems, Adam Cohen of Ranger Power, Tom Green of SoCore, and Mike Kruger of SEPA provided conference attendees with four national perspectives on the “State of the National Solar Industry.” Steve Noe from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) kicked off Tuesday morning with discussion surrounding TVA’s renewable energy projects. The breakouts that followed included an update on Nebraska’s first wind decommissioning project and insight into renewable energy development by local public power.
The Tuesday luncheon featured Paul Clements of Facebook and Tim O’Brien of OPPD discussing their partnership and what corporate companies look for when it comes to renewable energy procurement.
David Gardiner added a national perspective to the discussion. The conference wrapped up with discussions pertaining to wind impacts on Nebraska and Southwest Power Pool and how to navigate wildlife and regulatory pathways with state and federal officials.