Renewable energy featured at Aug. 23-24 fair in Oregon, Ill.

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

Solar and wind power are rapidly growing in importance as energy sources. This is especially so in Illinois, one of the top 10 states in the national clean energy economy. The Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair (Aug. 23-24 at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill.) will feature both presentations and exhibits about these two sources this year. Special two-hour workshops on installing PV will also be featured.

Solar and PV installers will exhibit their work and discuss it with interested visitors. They include Dave Merrill of SunAir in Byron, Ill., Tom DeBates of Habi-Tek in Geneva, Ill., Dale Balder of Heavenly Winds in Compton, Ill., and John Root of The Root Cellar in Clinton, Iowa. They are all known for being current with their information as well as helpful.

Several workshops will focus on solar and wind. Presenters are long-time favorites at the fair. John Root, an expert in wind energy and the history of wind, will present a program about small wind installations.

Jim Lamb will discuss how to utilize solar, conservation and sustainability for maximum payback with minimal environmental impact. Jim lives his philosophy of minimizing both his energy use and his environmental impact.

Dave Merrill, experienced solar installer, will discuss the real-world payback analysis of solar PV: How do we really evaluate purchasing photovoltaic solar systems for homes and businesses? PV business economics will be explained while exploring actual financial cash-flow tables, present dollar value examples — including incentives — to determine real return on investment. Also a discussion of the new solar leasing programs that are becoming popular, to determine if they fit an individual’s needs.

Bruce Roe, retired engineer, will explain how to eliminate wasted kilowatt hours, present the construction of both south-facing and east- and west-facing solar PV arrays and will analyze the pros and cons of both orientations. He will also relate the attempt to construct solar panels. He has eliminated all of the “phantom energy” users in his home.

A special hands-on PV workshop will be offered from 7 to 9 a.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday. Class members will assemble a real 1-kilowatt grid-tied PV system on site. Attend either one or both sessions.

Two teams will rotate between laying out the solar panels and making the DC wiring connections between them while the other team works on the AC side of the system, including the inverter, conduit and new breaker switches.

After the assembly, the entire system will be voltage tested and commissioned. This will be a valuable experience for those wanting to install their own system, help in an installation, or simply understand better what is involved in PV installations.

The cost for the workshop is $20 for Illinois Renewable Energy Association members and $40 for non-members. The minimum enrollment for this class is six. Maximum enrollment is12. Advanced registration and payment are essential. Cancellations will be reimbursed, minus a $5 fee for processing. For information or to register, phone (815) 732-7332 or e-mail The class will be led by Dave Merrill, an experienced solar installer.

Once again, the fair will remind visitors of the advantages of and options for clean energy. Major sponsors of the fair are the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Rock River Times and the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department.

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

From the July 23-29, 2014, issue

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