Wind energy at the Energy Fair

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-SOrW4Lqk8q.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of’, ‘These windmills have joined the farms along Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota and Iowa. Wind harvesting has decreased in cost since the 1980s, making it a popular second income for farmers. ‘);

Wind energy is integral to a sustainable energy future. Wind enthusiasts will find numerous workshop options and opportunities to discuss their favorite topic with experts at this year’s Third Annual Illinois Renewable Energy Fair Aug. 7-8 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds.

Brian Lammert, project director for Navitas Energy’s Mendota Hills Wind Farm, will make a presentation about the facility on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening, he will lead a field trip to the installation along I-39. The trip can accommodate a limited number on a first-come basis. With this area’s wind resources and the proximity to a large number of customers, wind farms are a cost-effective option that will continue to spark local interest.

Palmer Carlin of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory returns this year to discuss federal incentives for wind installations. Since most wind installations are in rural settings, participants may also want to hear Dave Dornbush of the Blackhawk RC&D discuss renewable energy opportunities for land owners and some points to consider before making a commitment to renewable energy. Hans Detweiler, deputy director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will include comments on wind power in his presentation, “Keeping Energy Dollars Local.”

Bill Fabian of Champaign will explain his experiences in designing, building, installing and living with his homemade wind generator, which is both professional looking and durable. He will encourage others to take on this fascinating project and include words of caution based on experience.

Those with an interest in owning or investing in a wind generator for either their own property or their community will not want to miss the presentation by Bruce and Joyce Papiech of Sublette. As energy entrepreneurs, they are experienced investors in and installers of renewable energy systems in Illinois.

While most wind installations are placed in rural settings, Bil Becker of Aerotecture has designed and tested wind generators for urban rooftop applications. His system is not a typical blade-based generator, but is a double helix similar to a DNA molecule. Bil will present his exciting concept during a Saturday workshop and will have a full scale working model of his unit on display. His design is being considered for installation at the Greater Rockford Airport as part of the hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project. Electricity produced by his generator could be used to produce hydrogen through electrolysis of water. Parts of the wind generator are expected to be produced in Rockford.

While Dave Merrill’s presentation at the Energy Fair will familiarize participants with inverters, he will have a booth and be available to discuss his experience with a blade wind generator a few yards from his Byron home. Local officials approved of the installation after surrounding neighbors expressed their willingness to have the generator next door to them. During some past power outages, Dave was able to send a little power to his neighbors, increasing their respect for renewable energy.

While some people are enthusiastic wind energy advocates, as we learned through our interviews with residents of Paw Paw, not all are supporters of wind farms. The fair will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn and judge for themselves.

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