June 27, 2008

Green Technology is Focus of Weekend Event: Michigan Energy Fair

By Bill O'Brien, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.

Jun. 27--ONEKAMA -- Green is the theme at this weekend's Michigan Energy Fair -- green as in renewable and alternative energy technology, and in saving green on energy costs.

The third annual event, sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, returns to the Manistee County Fairgrounds today through Sunday.

More than 4,000 attended the fair last year, with more expected this weekend, organizers said. Soaring energy bills increasingly are pushing people to seek out practical ways to cut consumption and save money, they said.

"What we have is a huge frustration of the average homeowner with the rising costs of energy prices," said Allan O'Shea, chairman of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners, an event sponsor. "They need to be around some energy experts to give them some focus."

Dozens of workshops will feature experts on wind and solar power, indoor air quality, green building techniques, recycling, biodiesel fuel and ethanol, water conservation and home canning. Legislation and energy policy updates will be available, as well as seminars on investing in green energy.

Weekend tours will show off some energy-saving improvements at several homes around Manistee.

The energy fair isn't meant to be too stuffy or elitist; it also features events for kids, a Saturday night barbecue and entertainment throughout the weekend.

"There's nothing fancy," O'Shea said. "It's not a symposium."

Gov. Jennifer Granholm will headline a roster of almost 70 speakers, delivering the event's keynote address today at 2:30 p.m. Granholm will make her first energy fair appearance to underscore her administration's commitment to alternative and renewable energy sources development, spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

"We've declared our intention to lead the country in alternative energy production," Boyd said. "Most importantly for us, alternative energy will result in jobs for Michigan workers, and it is at the core of our strategic plan to grow and diversify the state's economy."

O'Shea said organizers reviewed energy fairs throughout the country to improve Michigan's event, a gathering that's attracted 180 volunteers.

"We've really spent a lot of time looking at what works and what doesn't work," he said. "What people are going to notice is a huge increase in community involvement and support."

Garth Ward of Michigan Wind Power in Traverse City will be among close to 120 exhibitors, and plans to display Skystream wind turbines sold by his company. He's been a fair regular and watched it grow and lure cutting-edge technology to northern Michigan.

"More and more people are getting into it. Each year there's more vendors, more exhibits," Ward said.

The event is more than an opportunity to sell his products, Ward said. It's also a chance to learn about alternative and renewable energy technology used elsewhere.

"This year there's a lot of new technology hitting the market," he said. "I'm hoping some companies bring in some stuff I haven't seen before."

What: Third annual Michigan Energy Fair

Where: Manistee County Fairgrounds off M-22 in Onekama

When: Friday noon-8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Highlights: Features 120 exhibits and almost 70 speakers covering dozens of topics on renewable and alternative energy, entertainment, children's events, tours and food and refreshments.

More information: www.glrea.org


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.

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