May 20, 2011 | by John Norton | Industry Events + Conferences, Sustainability + Energy

The AWEA WINDPOWER 2011 conference is next week in Anaheim! There will be over 15,000 attendees and several thousand exhibitors occupying several million square feet.

I attended the first AWEA conference in 1979 which I believe was held at the Cape Cod Motel in Hyannis, Massachusetts. It was held in the dining room, a space smaller than some booths will be this year in Anaheim. Hermann Dries of Pinson Energy was the host. If recollection serves, there were 45 attendees – hippies from the 60’s and government bureaucrats from the Department of Energy -- and no exhibits. What would we have been able to show – some re-furbished Jacobs machines from the ‘50’s and a bunch of drawings?

I believe the conference lasted one day. At the lunch break Jito Coleman, then from Windworks of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, organized a soccer game next to the parking lot. Almost everyone at the conference played.

The next year, the conference was in San Francisco and the notable event was the announcement by Alvin Duskin of US Windpower (the company which Woody Stoddard helped to start) that he had negotiated a power purchase agreement with the California Water Department and that US Windpower would install 2,000 of its 50kW turbines in the Altamont. At the time I think there was one prototype flying in Woburn MA off of Rt 128. The disbelief in the hall was palpable. This was the first utility scale windfarm in the US and some of those turbines are still flying.

San Francisco was my last AWEA conference until Los Angeles in 2007. I felt like Rip Van Wynkle. The transformation was extraordinary and the event has just gotten bigger every year since. I look forward to WINDPOWER 2011. It’s palpable proof of how far the industry has come in 30 plus years. And I look forward to seeing so many colleagues.

john norton
John Norton

John confesses to loving wind power first as a young man of 25 (hint: not yesterday). As NRG’s Chief Operating Officer, he shared that passion with others internally and internationally. He wrote about manufacturing technology, the intersection of innovation and operations, global trade in the wind industry, strategic partnerships, and thoughts on making a difference through local community.

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