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Not all work

The American Wind Energy Association's conference was not all dimly-lit technical sessions, hard work and pushing business cards in hallways. This article gives a look at what happened outside the conference hall.

AWEA's conference was not all dimly-lit technical sessions, hard work and pushing business cards in hallways. Some participants found time to have fun and see the sights around Palm Springs which, aside from being blessed with great winds, is a favourite American vacationing spot where the sun always shines and mountains rise an impressive 10,000 feet (3000 metres) above the city.

As participants arrived on Sunday, April 30, they had a choice: go to a highly technical pre-conference seminar or play golf at the Desert Falls Country Club, an event sponsored by NEG Micon and M&N Windpower. Playing golf won out over the seminar for 80 wind enthusiasts, so about 20 teams spent the warm afternoon crowding the course. It was a tribute to the dedication of wind advocates that about the same number chose the afternoon seminar in an air-conditioned lecture room.

Receptions began immediately, with the first by the pool. Sponsored by wind project financier Fortis MeesPierson, the event had plenty of food and featured Chilean music and Palm Springs Mayor William Kleindienst. Enron Wind and Second Wind hosted competing receptions Tuesday night, Enron at its 1.5 MW turbine-sized exhibit in the convention centre and Second Wind in a people-sized suite.

On Wednesday, AWEA's board of directors escaped the conference hubbub for an afternoon trip up the Palm Springs tramway, which in a fifteen minute trip rises to an elevation of over 8500 feet where the temperature drops by 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and a spectacular view is provided of pin-sized wind turbines in the heat of the desert floor below. They arrived back at the Wyndham Hotel for the closing awards banquet.

And, finally, three busloads of delegates stayed beyond the conference for an all-day Thursday drive among wind turbines. The tour's stops were at NEG Micon's repowered project, Whitewater Hill, for a blade cleaning demonstration, Painted Hills to see Nordex's 1 MW turbines, enXco's service shop and Enron Wind's merchant plant, which trades green power directly on the wholesale power market.

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