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Wind energy sector recognizes award winners and industry leaders

Don Horne   


The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) and its partner Deutsche Messe wrapped up the 34th Annual CanWEA Conference and Exhibition this week by honouring a slate of exemplary renewable-energy leaders, innovators, pioneers, and projects.

This year’s iteration attracted 1,348 registrants and 135 exhibitors, covering over 21,160 square feet of exhibition space at Calgary’s BMO Centre.

Thursday’s CanWEA Awards Breakfast, the association recognized six award winners – the R.J. Templin Award, Matt Holder Community Connection Award, Individual Leadership Award, Group Leadership Award, Wind Energy Project of the Year, and Friend of Wind Award. CanWEA partner organization, Women in Renewable Energy WiRE also announced this year’s Wind Power Woman of Distinction.

Canada’s wind-energy leaders head home today re-energized and ready to champion a shared purpose and direction,” said Robert Hornung, President, Canadian Wind Energy Association. “For the past three days, our team has been discussing with delegates the Wind Energy Vision for Canada we presented for the first time here in Calgary, which paints an exciting future for our sector that will supply low-cost and reliable power to Canada’s industries and light up millions of homes in the ongoing transition to non-emitting electricity grids.”


Yesterday’s keynote luncheon featured CanWEA Board Chair Cory Basil talking shop with representatives from two of Canada’s major institutional investors, Arun Eapen, Managing Director, Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund and Chris Powell, Director, Infrastructure and Timber Investments, Alberta Investment Management Corporation, on the aspects of wind energy development that attract and hold the attention of institutional investors.

“We see contracted wind energy projects as a good fit to meeting the objectives of our clients and our underlying mandate,” said Chris Powell, Director, Infrastructure and Timber Investments, Alberta Investment Management Corporation. “The projects are capable of producing long-term stable cashflows with well contained risks. We also see wind projects continuing to play an important role in meeting future energy needs as economies make the transition to become less carbon intensive.”

The conference concluded with sessions on new operations and maintenance solutions, as well as big-picture discussions on the evolution of the grid, and wind-energy’s global growth.

CanWEA and WiRE Award Winners

Seven award winners – the R.J. Templin Award, Matt Holder Community Connection Award, Individual Leadership Award, Group Leadership Award, Wind Energy Project of the Year, and Friend of Wind Award, as well as Wind Power Woman of Distinction (WiRE Award) – are recognized at the CanWEA 2018 Awards Breakfast. (CNW Group/Canadian Wind Energy Association)

Friends of Wind Award: Doug Smith

Not only is Doug Smith a land owner on the North Kent Wind project in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Ontario – he is also a vocal community wind energy advocate. He shares accurate renewable-energy news and information over his social media accounts. He speaks at meetings, writes letters, volunteers to appear in videos, and vigorously corrects misinformation wherever he comes across it. His daughter, Meredith Halfpenny, is his daily inspiration. She works in the wind industry and is also an outspoken social-media champion of wind energy in her own right.

Wind Energy Project Award: Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n (Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. / Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Business Corporation)

In partnership with the Mi’gmaq communities of Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj, in 2015 Innergex built the 150 MW Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n project in the Regional County Municipality of Avignon, Quebec. The name means “Big Wind” in the Mi’gmaq language, and it is the first Gaspésie wind farm developed in partnership with an Indigenous community. In construction, the project employed 389 people – 113 of whom came from Mi’gmaq communities, and an additional 225 from the surrounding region. The project will generate more than $200 million in revenue for Mi’gmaq communities over the coming decades, while providing clean power for approximately 30,000 homes.

Group Leadership Award: 20/20 Catalysts Program

20/20 Catalysts is an intensive, hands-on program that directly increases the capacity of Indigenous people, organizations, and communities to develop wind and other clean energy projects. Now in its third year, the 20/20 Catalysts Program has connected some 60 Indigenous participants with industry leaders and experts. To date, seven of the catalysts who have emerged from the program are now involved in the development of wind projects to help their remote communities reduce reliance on polluting, noisy, and expensive diesel fuel. The 20/20 Catalysts Program is a program of Indigenous Clean Energy, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to advancing Indigenous inclusion in Canada’s energy economy. Indigenous Clean Energy manager Chris Henderson, the author of Aboriginal Power, also serves as lead mentor.

Individual Leadership Award: Chris Martin

Chris Martin is among the most experienced and respected wind energy health and safety professionals in Canada. His 20-year career included stops at NextEra and TransAlta. He’s also worked for 15 years volunteering for fire-rescue services in his community, where he has helped bridge the gap between wind energy and first responders – helping crews understand how best to manage and respond to a potential up-tower emergency. At TransAlta, Chris was instrumental in founding and launching CanWEA’s Operations and Maintenance program, and served for many years on Canadian Standards Association committees as they shaped standards that directly impact health and safety at wind farms across the country.

Matt Holder Community Connection Award: Robbie Thibodeau

Prince Edward Islanders always smile when they spot Robbie Thibodeau pulling into their driveway! On a regular basis, the plant manager for the 99 MW West Cape and 9 MW Norway wind parks visits with landowners hosting turbines on their properties to stay in touch and develop an intimate understanding of their needs. He promotes the environmental and financial benefits of wind, and always makes himself available to volunteer in community events. Robbie has been with ENGIE for close to 12 years and is a role model for how the wind energy industry can represent itself to the communities with which it works.

R.J. Templin Award: Dr. Francis Pelletier

At this moment, hundreds of wind turbines across the world are raising the bar on performance thanks in part to Dr. Francis Pelletier, one of Canada’s most skilled, knowledgeable, and accomplished renewable energy industry leaders. Three years ago, Dr. Pelletier co-founded and led Arista Renewable Energies. The small company quickly grew into Canada’s leading independent consultancy offering performance improvement and reliability solutions to wind farm owners and operators. (This spring, Power Factors LLC, a California-based provider of renewable energy performance management software, acquired the company.) Dr. Pelletier participated directly in multiple stages of wind project development, construction, and operation. Over the course of his career, he’s helped ensure this nation’s electricity supply remains clean, reliable, and affordable.

WiRE Wind Power Woman of Distinction: Colleen Giroux-Schmidt

Colleen Giroux-Schmidt has over 15 years of experience in resource development and a broad perspective on developing clean energy projects from conception to operation. As Vice President, Corporate Relations for Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. she leads the engagement and relationship activities with all levels of government, Indigenous communities, local communities, strategic partners and other stakeholders. She oversees policy research and advocacy aimed at increasing renewable energy opportunities to help jurisdictions meet climate change goals. She has been involved in development, environmental assessment and permitting, construction, and operations phases of numerous clean energy projects, in multiple technologies and in multiple jurisdictions.



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