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Wind Power Advocate Interview: Jay Haley, EAPC Architects Engineers

A photo of Jay Haley

Jay Haley, EAPC Architects Engineers, (right) was awarded the Wind Powering America Regional Wind Advocacy Award for the Central Region.

Wind Power Advocate Interview: Jay Haley, EAPC Architects Engineers

Date: 6/1/2005

Location: ND

Jay Haley was awarded Wind Powering America's Regional Wind Advocacy Award for the Central Region. Steve Palomo, U.S. Department of Energy Central Regional Office, and Larry Flowers, Wind Powering America Technical Director, presented the award.

Q. Tell us how you became interested in wind.

A. As an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of North Dakota, I was the leader on a project to develop a computerized data acquisition system to collect wind data automatically and then to produce charts and graphs. This was in the early '80s when you couldn't find off-the-shelf wind monitoring systems. We developed a system that collected data every 2 seconds and stored hourly averages of the wind speed, wind direction, and temperature. I became interested in wind energy, and I realized the future potential for wind energy in North Dakota.

Q. You've formed a multi-stakeholder group to address North Dakota wind issues. Tell us about its purpose, actions, and plans.

A. The popularity of wind energy is one of its greatest strengths, but at the same time, it's one of its greatest weaknesses. The broad support for wind energy brings an interesting group of stakeholders to the table. We have stakeholders that are on opposite sides on many issues but are supportive of the general idea of wind development. This has presented a real challenge in getting these groups and individuals to work together and agree on what is most important to further the cause.

The main goal in forming the multi-stakeholder group was to keep the groups talking to one another, to look for areas where consensus could be reached, and to avoid public conflict and disagreement regarding issues related to wind development. I think we've demonstrated that we accomplished much more by working together than by pursuing separate agendas. The first wind farm in North Dakota would not have been built had it not been for the efforts of these groups working together to help pass legislation in the 2001 session.

I'm hopeful that we can continue to work together in the future and come up with smart, effective ways of furthering wind development for the good of North Dakota and the nation.

Q. North Dakota is one of the windiest states in the country, yet it's also one of the least populated. This brings the transmission issue to the forefront. What is being done to address transmission and unlock North Dakota's vast wind resource?

A. There are a number of transmission studies in progress, state transmission authorities are being formed, and tariff reforms and other activities related to solving our transmission problems are underway. Wind and coal interests are working together on potential future joint projects. All of this makes me optimistic about the long-range forecast for wind energy in North Dakota. The quality of the wind resource in the Dakotas is too good to ignore, and some day it will be an important part of our nation's energy mix.

Q. Each year Senator Byron Dorgan hosts a wind conference in North Dakota. What results have you seen from these gatherings?

A. I've served on the planning committee for all six of the Dorgan wind conferences. The focus of the conferences has always been to bring the right people together at the right time to address issues, find solutions, and promote networking to foster the growth of renewables in the upper Midwest. When we started, there were no wind farms in North Dakota. Today we have 67 megawatts of wind energy, with announcements for about 300 more. The Dorgan wind conferences have certainly contributed to this positive turn of events.

Many of the issues remaining are regional in nature and will require regional cooperation to find solutions. This is one of the reasons that the conference was expanded this year to include all renewables, as well as other states. This year we had representatives on the planning committee from Minnesota and South Dakota, as well as North Dakota. I think it makes sense for the states in the upper Midwest to join forces and converge upon a single annual renewables conference. We could hold it in different locations to keep everyone happy. It would provide a great way to promote networking of key players. I'm sure that industry representatives would appreciate not having to attend five or six conferences each year when they see many of the same people and companies at each event.

Q. Dorgan mentioned a regional initiative at one of the recent North Dakota conferences that would address export barriers. What can you tell us about that?

A. Senator Dorgan's proposal, the Heartland Wind Pipeline, calls for the following actions:

  • Create an American Heartland Wind Program, a compact among states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota to promote a regional wind development strategy.
  • Extend the federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy for at least 5 years. This credit expired at the end of 2003, putting a brake on wind energy development nationwide. Dorgan's plan also calls for this credit to be tradable.
  • Enact a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and other production incentives in key wind states to promote the use of renewable energy sources.
  • Pursue tariff reform to increase effective transmission capacity.
  • In the long run, promote hydrogen production as a way to store valuable energy, achieve further import savings, and improve efficiency.

Progress has been made in each of these areas. I'm sure Senator Dorgan will continue to do whatever he can to help fully develop our country's wind energy potential.

Q. You've worked hard to not alienate the Lignite Council. What's the motivation, and have you seen results from your peace-pipe offer?

A. The coal industry and the local utilities in the upper Midwest are closely tied. The local utilities own the assets, serve the load, and are certainly potential customers for wind energy as well as potential partners for wind development. Any realistic plans for future wind development must involve a certain level of communication and cooperation with the existing energy industry.

Wind developers are currently working together with the lignite interests to identify potential transmission upgrades that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. In my view, this is a positive step in the right direction.

Q. You were involved with some early projects using reconditioned turbines. How have they fared, and is this a viable opportunity for entrepreneurs?

A. In the summer of 1996, I assisted two Native American Tribes in North Dakota in their efforts to install and operate reconditioned Micon 108 wind turbines on their reservations. Both wind turbines are still in operation today and have saved the Tribes a substantial amount of money on their utility bills.

The Tribes perform some of the routine maintenance, but they hire professional windsmiths every few years to perform a complete checkup and service the wind turbines. This has been an important part of their operation and maintenance strategy.

Since those two turbines began operating, quite a few more turbines have been reconditioned and put into service in the upper Midwest. These turbines fit a niche market that makes financial sense when no new wind turbines are available in that size range.

Q. You remain involved with Native American wind energy. What are the remaining obstacles to this untapped resource?

A. I think the challenges for Native American wind developers are the same as they are for most developers: finding customers and figuring out how to deliver the electricity. A Tribe's sovereign nation status and inability to utilize the Production Tax Credit present additional challenges. The Tribes in the upper Midwest have some of the best wind resources in the country, and I have no doubt that they will succeed in developing those resources at some point in time.

Q. What is your assessment of wind implementation in North Dakota in the next 5 years and by 2020?

A. I think there is room to squeeze in a few more projects, but it will take major transmission upgrades before we will see large-scale development. In the next five years, we could see North Dakota's total wind generation capacity grow to 500 MW as those remaining pockets are identified and tapped.

In the mean time, progress is being made on plans for major transmission upgrades. When the time comes, I would not be surprised to see announcements of 1000-MW or larger projects. By the year 2020, I think there will be more than 3000 MW of wind energy in North Dakota.

Q. While you're still a young man, what do you want to accomplish over the next 10 years?

A. Well, I hope to see my three children become responsible, contributing members of our society. I also hope to spend some quality time scuba diving at some exotic tropical locations, which will make the winters much more enjoyable.

I would like to see continued growth of EAPC Architects Engineers and our wind energy consulting business. Right now we have clients throughout the United States, and we've started to provide consulting services internationally. I'd like to continue to expand our client base globally.

This information was last updated on August 04, 2011