Take charge of your energy future

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-pI53oCKBqr.jpg’, ‘Photo by Paul Marek’, ‘A solar-charged generator is used at the Second Annual Illinois Renewable Energy Fair last year at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. Thousands from around Illinois and the Midwest attended last year’s fair.’);

Aug. 7-8 Illinois Renewable Energy Fair offers solutions to oil dependence

More than 50 workshops, live entertainment and kids’ tent featured at the two-day event

Tight gas and oil supplies mean that we need renewable energy sources now. Potential supply disruptions from technological failures, natural events and terrorist acts are usually short lived. Longer-term supply questions are once again a timely topic. The implications of peak oil and natural gas will be covered by Dr. Mark Daugherty at the Third Annual Illinois Renewable Energy Fair Aug. 7-8 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon.

While Illinois has abundant coal resources, a dramatic increase in their use must be tempered by a concern for global warming. Colleen Sarna, Sierra Club Global Warming Conservation Organizer, will present the implications of global warming for Illinois and suggest some solutions for curbing the problem.

A well-designed strategy to stimulate more efficient energy use and renewable energy sources is readily available to Illinois citizens to help renewable energy make a serious contribution to our energy supplies.

Barry Matchett ‘s presentation will highlight the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s energy strategy and the economic benefits and jobs, which will come from its implementation.

Economic benefits can also flow to individual investors who want to meet their financial goals while helping the environment. Russell Rybicki of The Social Equity Group will discuss the available options.

Those with a higher purpose might enjoy a panel discussion on the spiritual elements of committing to and living sustainable lives. Judy Speer of the Small Water Gathering Center, Rael Bassan, Mark Daugherty and Becky Wilson compose the panel.

“Achieving the Good Life” will be a presentation based on one couple’s efforts to become more self-reliant, simplify their lifestyle and live in a more ecological manner. They left their jobs in the high powered advertising world of Chicago to develop the Serendipity Inn in Wisconsin as an ecological retreat.

Those interested in living in a community dedicated to sustainable living should hear Bill Wilson’s presentation on “Community Living.” His 30 years of experience working with sustainable living practices yield insights into what it takes to create and maintain a genuine community.

A related lifestyle choice involves the foods we eat and how we choose to prepare them. Raw with Rose will demonstrate the making of non-dairy ice cream that looks, tastes and has a creamy rich texture like ice cream found in the dairy case of a grocery store but has no sugar, chemicals, additives or artificial ingredients and is healthy. Rose Hayes, graduate of the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California, will make the presentation.

Those whose energy choices include a renewable energy system will want to be sure it is safe. A safe system meets building codes, is properly grounded and has lightning protection. Brian Green will alert participants to these and other important safety issues. Jeff Green provides an excellent overview of the design, operation and maintenance of a battery system for those who want one. He also covers some of the battery choices available in the marketplace.

Several more futuristic topics will be included at this year’s fair. Two will focus on hydrogen. Wayne Stroessner, retired high school science teacher, will discuss the hydrogen economy. He will focus on how fuel cells can be used to produce electricity, heat and pure drinking water without the release of pollutants. Bob Vogl will report on a one-week visit to Iceland to study their initial efforts to create the hydrogen economy as described by last year’s fair speaker, Dr. Thorsteinn Sigfusson.

Another futuristic topic will be presented by Tommi Makila, a program planner for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. She will discuss the promise of high temperature superconductivity to improve the efficiency and reliability of the national electrical grid. This promising technology has some challenges to meet before it gains widespread use.

Another important feature of the energy fair is the program opportunities available to students and children. Students, teachers and school officials will want to hear how Illinois schools are adding solar panels to their buildings to improve community understanding of solar energy. Glen Kizer will provide an overview of his work in Illinois and around the country helping interested schools add solar panels to their buildings and solar education to their curricula.

There are also some fun-oriented learning activities for children. Corrinne Sosso, director of Education and Programs at the Discovery Center Museum of Rockford, will have activities involving real worms. The Saturday afternoon program is available for up to 35 children from ages 3 to 7 with their parents. The session will help them learn how worms help us. Participants will learn how to make worm bins and start a home composting bin.

Christopher Bernd from the Discovery Center will conduct a Sunday afternoon session on “Fun with the Sun.” It is directed toward up to 30 children from ages 9 to 12. They will find out how the energy from the sun can be turned into electricity, play with solar-powered cars and toys, and use the sun to generate hydrogen.

John Root from Muscatine, Iowa, will lead a solar oven workshop at noon on both days. Children of all ages will build and cook with solar ovens. This take-home oven made from recycled cardboard will provide many hours of fun in the sun. Sessions are limited to 25 children. Those younger than 9 must be accompanied by a parent.

On Saturday and Sunday, morning and afternoon sessions of “Community Building Games,” designed so that everyone wins, will be available. Tim Benedict, outdoor educator from the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center, returns to guide these games.

These are only some of the workshops being offered. A full workshop schedule appears in this edition of The Rock River Times. Equipment displays and vendors will help round out visitors’ understanding of renewable energy. Workshops and displays should help participants take charge of their energy future.

For more info on the Energy Fair, contact Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl at 815-732-7332, e-mail sonia@essex1.com or visit www.illinoisrenew.org. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 12-16, and free for children younger than 12. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 7, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 8. The Ogle County Fairgounds, 1440 Limekiln Rd., are north of Highway 64 between Oregon and Mount Morris.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!