A face very familiar to people in the wind energy industry locally - and internationally - has returned to Estherville after a three-year absence.
Al Zeitz, the original director of the wind energy and turbine technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College, has joined Iowa Lakes Electrical Cooperative in Estherville as manager of renewable energy services, replacing Kirby Berhow who held the position previously.
Interestingly, the acronyms of both the college and the cooperative are very close. Also interesting is the fact that two of Zeitz's former students - Shannon Lehmkuhl and Zach Herum - will work under Zeitz's direct supervision in his new position.
Zeitz took the Iowa Lakes wind energy program to national prominence before taking the position of manager of field operations for the U.S. and Canada for DeWind, based in Irvine, Calif. He spent the last year on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in addition to working with previous projects in Minnesota, Texas and Oklahoma.
"I've done a lot of traveling the last three years," said Zeitz. "It's nice to be back."
Zeitz's primary responsibility at ILEC will be to make sure projects are operating at their maximum capacity.
He'll also be working with member-customers interesting in installing renewable energy on site, whether that might be wind turbines or solar. He said he can help them through the process to help determine what might be a good fit for the customer as well as interconnecting with the electrical distribution system. He said he'll also be able to help recommend reputable companies that distribute renewable energy products.
"It's all about customer service," Zeitz explained.
Zeitz said he would also welcome any opportunity to serve on the advisory committee for the Iowa Lakes wind turbine and energy technology program.
"I'm here to help," he said. "Anything I can do to help the program out."
"I'm looking forward to it," Zeitz said of his new position. "It's going to be a little slower pace than what I'm used to. It's home."