Renewable Energy: ‘Re-Notes’

Renewable Energy: ‘Re-Notes’

By Dan Slattery, Alternative Energy Activist

I spoke with Mark Burger, president of both Spire Solar Chicago and the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) about a week ago. He spoke about the commonality of interests in the renewable energy arena among different organizations here in Illinois. Burger said, “Our tendencies are more towards urban and suburban locations.”

When asked about the Illinois Renewable Resources Grant, he said he believes “there will be a continuing role for them in bio-power and large-scale wind industries as well as rural economic development.” You may remember that the IRRG held a large conference on renewables here in Rockford at Cliffbreakers last July. It was very well received with approximately 300 in attendance.

Burger and Solar Service Inc. President Brandon Leavitt testified at an Energy & Environment Advisory Committee hearing in December held by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) encouraging the state to provide a mandatory, enforceable and dedicated RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) to set percentage parameters on solar, wind, biomass and other RE power plants to be part of the mix of electricity generation.

Burger told me that legislation has been very recently filed by both the House and Senate.

Speaking of commonality of interests, I also spoke with Paul Sterner, past chairman (and still board member) of the IRRG. He said that he would like to see further coordination with the ISEA, the Illinois Renewable Energy Association, and themselves. He also spoke of changes on their board. Denise Bechen is now chairpeson (still with ComEd), Kent Whitfield, formerly with Spire Solar Chicago (still with U.L. labs) is now in a research position; Julie McGee is now a board liaison (still with area 5 EPA, a federal position); and, as I said, my friend Paul is still a board member.

The Students for Environmental Concern (SECS) had an energy conference March 1. They also meet every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois at 1001 Wright St. in Champaign.

There is so much going on with renewables all around Rockford and Winnebago County. LET’S NOT BE THE LAST ONES TO JUMP ONTO THIS BANDWAGON.

Given the factors of our loss of jobs, loss of businesses and tax base, we face a prime opportunity to capitalize on these industries. Be it manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, retail and/or service, let’s face it—Rockford could really utilize these things.

Not to mention commercial or residential, we could ALL stand to lower or eliminate our utility bills.

The best way to predict the future is to help create it.

Dan Slattery is a member of the following organizations: the American Solar Energy Society, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the Illinois Solara Energy Association, and the Illinois Coalition Against Unfair Utilities.

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