2005 Energy Fair—Be there!

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11236937829132.jpg’, ‘Photo by Julie Vogl’, ‘Visitors explore a gas-electric hybrid Toyota Prius at last year’s 2004 Energy Fair. The Prius was last year’s hottest hybrid seller, with an incentive of a $1,500 tax deduction. The new energy bill Congress sent to the president last week included tax credits up to $3,400 for people buying hybrid vehicles, but limited to the first 60,000 vehicles per manufacturer through 2010.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11236951519127.jpg’, ‘Photo by Julie Vogl’, ‘Editor and Publisher, Frank Schier, Inspects the Toyota Prius at last year's Renewable Energy Fair.’);

The Fourth Annual Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Fair is Aug. 13-14 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds near Oregon, Ill.

The recently passed legislation increasing Illinois’ use of wind power and efficiency is welcomed by renewable energy advocates. It should reduce air pollution emissions, increase energy supplies, boost local economic activity, provide job opportunities and add to the tax base of selected rural areas. While we are unlikely to grow ourselves out of the current energy situation and deteriorating environmental conditions, the state’s action is a step in the right direction.

These actions also raise questions regarding what’s ahead for solar electricity. Mark Burger of Spire Solar Chicago will provide an overview of progress in solar electric applications, costs and markets in the world, the U.S. and Illinois at the Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair Aug. 13-14 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. The dramatic increase from 740 megawatts of installed capacity worldwide in 2003 to 1250 megawatts in 2004 will be hard to match in 2006 since a temporary shortage of silicon used in solar cell production has resulted in delays and price increases.

Another area gaining market acceptance is green building and zero net energy homes. While the homes and buildings have a variety of names, they all pay attention to a building’s orientation to the sun, maximizing energy efficiency, using nonpolluting building materials and clean on-site energy sources such as ground source heat pumps, solar electric and solar thermal systems, small wind systems, biomass energy and potential fuel cell applications.

New presenters explaining various green building strategies include Howard Allen on Sustainable Organic Architecture, Nathan Engstrom on Green Built Homes, and Chris Tynan on The Economics of On-Site Power Generation. They will join returning presenters Lou Host-Jablonski on Alternative Home Construction for the Midwest, Roald Gunderson on Real Living Room, Marty and Ruthanne Davis on Earth Sheltered Housing, Dirk Dypold on Geothermal Energy, and Christine Snyder on Michigan Zero Net Energy Homes.

Electricity itself will also be addressed. Dave Merrill will explain how inverters work to convert direct current electricity produced by PV or wind to alternating current, which matches that produced by the utility. Jeff Green will present an overview of batteries, and Brian Green will cover basic electrical safety.

Alternative-powered vehicles underscore the rewards of efficiency. Members of the Chicago Chapter of Prius Car Owners will share their cars, knowledge and enthusiasm for hybrid vehicles. Chris Schneider will return to encourage fair visitors to turn their dreams of a 70-mile-per-gallon vehicle into reality by joining the world of hybrid car owners. E85 vehicles and soy diesel-powered vehicles will be on display. More adventuresome owners will display vehicles run on recycled cooking oil or converted to run on battery power.

With increasing energy prices, the Energy Fair is an opportunity to meet people who have made the transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency and are eager to share ideas and approaches to taking charge of their own energy decisions.

The Fair is sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Commonwealth Edison.

From the Aug. 10-16, 2005, issue

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