Friday, March 25, 2011

ACMA Conducts Senate Briefing on Composites in Energy

ACMA Conducts Senate Briefing on Composites in Energy

At a March 3, 2011 Senate briefing held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) members and staff presented information on composite products used for generating and transmitting energy.

Composites have a prominent role to play in the nation’s investment in the transmission infrastructure and revitalizing the electric grid to make it more durable. In addition, the composites industry creates jobs, employing more than 280,000 Americans with operations in every state.

The briefing was attended by representatives of key senate offices, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Speaking for the composites industry were Brian Lacoursiere, P.Eng., Sr. VP, Sales and Engineering, Duratel; Scott Holmes, President, Utility Composite Solutions International and ACMA’s John P. Busel, Director, Composites Growth Initiative, and John Schweitzer, Senior Director, Government Affairs.

Busel opened the briefing making the case for composites as a superior alternative to traditional materials and providing an overview of the opportunities provided by clean, dependable wind energy, powered by composites turbine blades.

Lacoursiere then laid out the problems created by the use of wood, concrete and steel for electric power structures and how they can be solved by using composites materials. Wood used in the large majority of installations is now reaching the end of its useful service life and concrete and steel are of limited use in the electric grid. Lightweight, durable composites have been successfully used for over 40 years and thousands of installations throughout the U.S. & Canada

Holmes elaborated on the benefits of composites as non-conductive, maintenance free, storm resistant and immune to the natural environment. Composites, he said, offer environmental sustainability because they are a non-leaching material requiring no soil remediation or end-of-life disposal costs. In addition, composites’ lighter weight enables more product to be transported per load, resulting in fewer delivery trucks and less fuel used for transportation.

The hour-long session closed with a brief summary by Schweitzer.

The Senate briefing was just one of ACMA’s many advocacy efforts aimed to grow and protect the industry by informing national policymakers about the benefits of innovative composites products and the employment and economic contributions of the industry. ACMA is collaborating with the Department of Energy to demonstrate how using composites can help accomplish its mandates to harden the electric grid and utilize more “green.”

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