The Small Wind Conference presented Paul Gipe with its first Lifetime Achievement Award on 19 June 2013 at its annual award ceremony in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Billed as a gathering of installers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors of small wind turbines, the conference is the premier small wind event in the United States.
The conference, organized by the Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee, has been held annually since 2005 in central Wisconsin, a hot bed of small wind activism.
Originally conceived as a venue for promoting the safety and reliability of small wind turbines, the conference has grown dramatically since its inception. This year the conference drew participants not only from across the USA but also from Canada, Columbia, China, Mexico, South Africa, and Great Britain.
Traditionally, the conference presents two awards: one for advocacy of small wind turbines, and another for a model dealer of small wind turbines.
The 2013 conference named Megan Amsler, of Cape & Islands Self-Reliance in Falmouth, Massachusetts as its Small Wind Advocate of the year for her work bravely fighting back against the threats and intimidation of virulent anti-wind activists in her community.
The conference named Roger Dixon of Skylands Renewable Energy in New Jersey as the Small Wind Turbine Installer of the year for his work ensuring that the state included small wind in its incentive programs.
This year the conference added a new category for lifetime achievement.
Before naming Gipe as the recipient of the new award, conference organizer Mick Sagrillo read an extensive passage from Robert Righter’s 1996 book Wind Energy in America: A History on Gipe’s pioneering role in the early days of the wind industry in the US.
The passage included a photo of a bearded, cigar-smoking Gipe perched atop crates of used wind turbines, which Sagrillo dutifully flashed on the conference screen to the amusement of attendees. Gipe was attired far differently at the conference than in the 1976 photo. At the conference, Gipe was dressed in a business suit.
The Small Wind Conference coordinating committee is composed of six small wind experts: Roy Butler, Trudy Forsyth, Jenny Heinzen, Mick Sagrillo, Brent Summerville, and Ian Woofenden.
Award recipients are presented with a plaque, hard hat, and the treasured “wrench,” a 24-inch, precision-machined, Klein adjustable wrench that has become a symbol of the conference and of small wind installers and advocates everywhere.
The Small Wind Conference precedes the long-running Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, an annual event held in nearby Custer, Wisconsin.
Small wind turbines are defined as wind turbines less than 200 square meters in swept area (up to 16 meters in diameter) and less than 100 kW in capacity.