The Making of a Wind Energy Pioneer
Boise, ID: Boise-based wind energy pioneer Roald Doskeland, President of Windland, Incorporated, was born in the one-room-schoolhouse village of Sande, nestled in Western Norway’s fjord country. His path from that pastoral setting to his pioneering position as one of America’s leading wind energy experts in what is now one of the hottest sectors in the energy industry showcases his drive for knowledge and strong business intuition.
Roald, the youngest of three, hails from a hard-working family. His father was a tax assessor and a trained military officer who ended up in a concentration camp during WWII. He and his two brothers worked on the family farm, taking care of 200 sheep and a potato field. The family took in foreign tourists who enjoyed the salmon fishing offered by the river, a section of which was owned by the Doskeland family. The boys became accustomed to sleeping in the hay in the summer to allow the paying tourists (primarily foreign) to stay in the house.
Roald first encountered energy production (later his chosen field) when his dad built a hydrofacility by the waterfall on the farm. Unfortunately, ice would accumulate on the intake to the turbines and the power disappeared. Roald remembers pushing the ice away on many cold, winter nights—and when the lights came back on, he knew the job was done.
Roald qualified for higher education. So, at the tender age of 13, he traveled to the town of Sandane to attend a different school which offered classes through grade 12. Although, he had his own apartment where he made most of his meals, the students would congregate at the school for dinner to socialize and study. The school granted each student the choice of pursuing either a math and science or a language-oriented curriculum. Roald chose math and science.
He remembers his childhood as being a very happy one—and the strong work ethic from those early days and his drive to learn and carve new paths have served him well to this day. His family was prominent in the Sande area. His uncle was the mayor, another uncle was the preacher, and one was a professor at Bergen University—and his brother continues to run several successful enterprises.
Roald was a curious sort and went on a bike trip at the age of 13 (accompanied by his 14-year-old cousin) through Norway, Sweden, and Denmark with a tent on his back. At 17, Roald was selected to be an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student to Butler, PA. He quickly forged a strong connection with his host family that he still maintains to this day. He fit in easily as the host family was also a farming family, and there was no shortage of work as the farm had a large commercial dairy operation, where milk was produced and delivered to homes daily. Life in Butler was good for him, and even at the age of 17 he was often invited to speak to local organizations, such as the Rotary Club, leaving him with rare spare moments. He came back to the U.S. to visit the year after his AFS term ended as AFS had an international convention in New York that he was allowed to attend aided by financial support from his American family. He then learned of a cooperative education program at Drexel University that allowed students to alternate study and work, which was ideal for him. There, he received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
He later continued his studies, receiving scholarships from Norwegian foundations and ultimately obtained his master’s in business administration (MBA) from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in a special program designed for engineers, where he took extra courses in real estate investment and development. To supplement his income, he worked full time and part time while completing his studies with an intriguing array of responsibilities that ranged from his work as a financial analyst for CBS in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley while also finding himself chasing down Doris Day’s dogs to help her out while analyzing CBS’s shows and movies—quite a change from the quiet hamlet of Sande.
At that time, his dream was to pursue his interest in real estate and he got a job with a REIT in San Diego that financed construction projects (commercial, industrial, and residential) in the western US. He got in on the ground floor and by the time he left three years later, he was Vice President and Daily Manager. By the time he was 30, he started his own real estate investment and mortgage brokerage company with a partner. The first deal that he closed was a complex and highly successful, five-way 1031 exchange. That enterprise ultimately led to his next venture through a connection of his business partner, where he became majority owner of Henderson Checkout Systems (now Killion Industries). The business grew to a successful national company that he subsequently sold.
Roald was fascinated by wind power, so in 1982 he founded Windland, Inc., and was one of the early pioneers in California to build wind power plants. His original project that he still owns and operates has expanded many times over the years with new technologies. In 1992, he moved from San Diego to Boise as he and his wife, Ginger, felt that Boise was an ideal place to raise a family.
Windland’s affiliate, Windland Repower II, recently closed a multimillion-dollar, long-term, fixed-rate loan for the purchase and installation of two 1.5-megawatt (MW) wind turbines with Western Capital Bank (WCB). WCB is a Boise–based business bank that specializes in strategic financial solutions for local and regional businesses, nonprofits, professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives.
The WCB-funded turbines are installed in the Tehachapi Mountains just east of Bakersfield, CA, near Mojave—long cited as one of the most highly productive wind energy sites in the country. The turbines, on average, are expected to produce enough electricity to power over 1,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.
Roald says that the projects have gotten very large, so Windland has partnered with companies such as Vestas and Florida Power and Light. Windland is currently working on an array of additional wind energy projects and is codeveloper with Houston–based Shell Wind Energy on two Idaho projects. On the main stage now is a 200-megawatt project (approximately 100 turbines) awaiting a power purchase agreement with a utility on Cotterel Mountain in Cassia County southeast of Burley to be built on a 15-mile-long mountain ridgeline to generate enough power for 60,000 homes. This project has the distinction of being the first major project permitted on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the United States. Also in the works in Idaho is a 100-megawatt project to be built on 8,000 acres of private land in American Falls.
Doskeland applies his comprehensive expertise and business acumen in the financial, real estate, energy, and engineering arenas to every endeavor he pursues. And now, he is using his expertise to make a difference in the renewable energy field.
Rob Perez, President and CEO of Western Capital Bank, 208.332.0700, email@example.com
Roald Doskeland, President of Windland, Inc., 208.377.7777, firstname.lastname@example.org
Story originator: Nancy Teton Gordon, The Gordon Group, LLC, 208.333.8700, PR@gordongroupidaho.com