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Conference Summary

The Conference on Renewable Energy in the Upper Midwest was held on February 23-24, 2005, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The conference was hosted by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), and the North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services. More than 520 people from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and five Canadian provinces attended representing more than 295 organizations.

The 2-day event evolved out of five successful North Dakota wind conferences, which began in 1999. This year, the conference was expanded to include the entire Upper Midwest region and cover a broader range of topics, such as the potential of wind, ethanol, biomass, hydrogen production, and other renewable fuels. The expansion sparked exceptionally high public participation this year for the opening session, which was free to the public.

"We broadened the conference this year because perhaps unlike any other part of the country, the Upper Midwest has a huge range of renewable energy sources, under its skies and in its fields and prairies. That means limitless economic opportunities for North Dakota," Dorgan said. "The high price of oil, the predicted shortage of natural gas, the 2003 electrical blackout in the Northeast, and national security interests all make the same point: We need to move aggressively toward energy independence."

"The EERC is committed to exploring a full range of energy options to address the most challenging issue for this country: energy security," EERC Director Gerald Groenewold said. "With considerable help from Senator Dorgan and our private industry partners, we have developed strategic Centers of Excellence in biomass, wind, and alternative fuels and have been designated as the National Center for Hydrogen Technology."

Free Opening Session
For the first time in conference history, the opening session from 8:30 a.m. to noon on February 23, 2005, was offered free to the general public. The public had an opportunity to hear opening session keynote speakers and attend two sessions covering information on the current status of renewable energy in the region and legislation related to renewable energy projects. Attendees also had unlimited access to the exhibit hall during that time.

"This free opening session was meant to encourage anyone with an interest in North Dakota's vast potential for renewable energy to come out, hear from our great speakers, and take part in this exciting conference," said Senator Dorgan.

A Record Number of Exhibitors
The Renewable Energy in the Upper Midwest Conference set a record with the largest exhibit in the conference's history; 42 exhibitors from around the nation attended.

More on Current Exhibitors

Keynote Speakers
The event featured keynote presentations from the nation's top renewable energy officials. Keynote speakers included U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Marilyn Brown, Director of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; North Dakota Governor John Hoeven; and Patrick Wood III, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

More on Keynote Speakers

Conference Demographics
The Renewable Energy Conference was attended by more than 500 participants from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and five Canadian provinces. The demographic breakdown of attendees is as follows:
Development Group14%

Attendee Comments
"Great opportunity to meet and interact with major stakeholders including developers, constructors, manufacturers, policy makers, etc."
- Sudershan Srinivasan, Teshmont Consultants
"This is a very informative and valuable conference to all involved in renewable energy in our region. Keep up the good work."
- Bob Swenson, Moorhead Public Service
"Extraordinary conference! From the knowledgeable, well-spoken presenters and the helpful, efficient organizers to the excellent materials and the A/V that actually worked (and well). Kudos all around!"
- Katherine McGuire, Harford Community College

Conference materials
Conference materials are available in a three-ring binder for US$25. Presentation materials include a final participant list, final program, sponsor directory, exhibitor directory, and speaker PowerPoint presentations. If you would like a copy of the materials, please contact Anne Fiala at or (701) 777-3119.

Renewable Energy Conference | EERC