Energy Fair a first-rate educational event

August 10, 2011

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair, we see the impacts of these efforts in the surrounding community. Energy-efficient homes powered by small-scale solar and wind systems, protected and restored natural areas, energy-efficient public buildings cooled and heated by geothermal systems, and an increase in gardens and sources of locally-grown foods dot the landscape. While not on the scale essential for a sustainable society, they serve as examples of how we might achieve such a society.

This year’s fair, Aug. 13-14 at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill., is focusing more on what people can do for themselves in implementing both energy savings and sustainable living strategies. It comes from the recognition that the economy is still in trouble, job prospects are not great, and the continued push to cut government spending does not bode well for U.S. job opportunities.

With the global scope of outsourcing, tax breaks given to relocating firms and duty-free imports from new production sites in low-cost labor areas, it is difficult to envision any broad-based growth in job opportunities within the United States.

Austerity programs cutting jobs do not provide citizens with the funds to stimulate consumption, which, in turn, stimulates production, jobs and economic development. For society to become sustainable, demand should be stimulated for sustainable goods and services.

If Canadian economist Jeff Rubin’s energy predictions prove accurate, peak oil and rising oil prices will undermine globalization as energy prices dramatically increase the cost of transportation, offsetting the advantages of low-cost labor.

While efficient use of energy is a top priority, our brightest option remains solar energy. The daily amount of energy reaching the planet from the sun is roughly 10,000 times as great as current global energy consumption. The cost of solar panels continues to fall, making it affordable for more people and applications.

A Wisconsin installer of small wind turbines recently told us he would prefer to install wind systems made in the United States, but the low cost of Chinese systems undermines U.S. manufacturing. He felt some consolation in the fact he was able to provide jobs to those selling, installing and servicing wind systems and providing customers with a measure of energy independence. If Freedom Field’s project rebuilding used turbines is successful, some manufacturing will take place locally.

We welcome the participation of Freedom Field, Elgin Community College’s and Rock Valley College’s personnel and students in this year’s program. They all have a stake in creating a sustainable energy future and have interesting projects to share with participants.

With nearly 60 informative workshops and roughly 100 booths and displays, the fair continues its well-earned reputation as an excellent, low-cost educational event. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore sustainable concepts and technologies and a chance to meet energetic, upbeat and solution-oriented people eager to share their knowledge and experience with others.

Come, and bring friends and family members to enjoy the weekend. We also provide activities for children, food to nourish the body and music to refresh the spirit.

The fair remains a first-rate educational event.

Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair

Illinois Renewable Energy Association’s (IREA) 10th anniversary Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13-14, at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday.

Gate fees are $5 for adults for one day or $7 for a two-day adult pass; $3 for youth ages 12-16 for one day or $5 for a two-day youth pass; free to children younger than 12 when accompanied by a parent; and free to IREA members.

See related advertisements in this newspaper or visit illinoisrenew.org for more details about the fair.

Ogle County Fairgrounds is at 1440 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon, Ill.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the Aug. 10-16, 2011, issue

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