Home & Garden

Renewable energy events, eco-friendly home seminar comes to Mid-Columbia this month

JOHN DAY, Ore. -- Want to peer at the sun through a solar-powered telescope, learn how to live off (the electrical) grid and cook with sunlight?

You can do all this and more at the 10th annual SolWest Renewable Energy Fair on July 25-27 at the Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day.

The organizers, Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies Nonprofit, bill the event as "the most comprehensive sustainable living fair in the Northwest."

Admission includes access to more than 50 free seminars, workshops and hands-on activities for all age levels and for all levels of experience with renewable energy sources including solar, wind, alternatively fueled vehicles and agricultural resources.

At 12:30 p.m. July 26, keynote speaker Greg Pahl of Weybridge, Vt., will provide an overview of a rapidly growing new movement, Community Supported Energy.

He'll discuss time-tested and highly successful cooperative renewable energy strategies that have been common in Europe for years and are just beginning to gain a foothold in the United States.

Pahl is the author of five books on sustainable living and knows what it's like to live off the grid in a wood-heated home powered by a wind turbine atop an 80-foot steel tower.

There also will be a display of alternatively fueled vehicles including those powered by hydrogen, biodiesel, waste vegetable oil, batteries and even human muscle.

July 27 is family day and children under 12 will be admitted free. Several activities are scheduled throughout the day -- including building a pizza box solar oven -- for children and parents to do together.

Admission to the fair is $5 per adult per day, with weekend, youth and senior discounts. Attend late in the day -- 5 to 7 p.m. July 26 and noon to 3:30 p.m. July 28 -- and admission is free. Camping and onsite child care is available.

Additional workshops

Three hands-on workshops will precede the Energy Fair.

On July 22-24, workshop participants will install a utility-intertied, battery backup, solar photovoltaic system. Instructor Kent Osterberg has 14 years of experience working with photovoltaic power system installations. He is co-owner of Blue Mountain Solar in Cove, Ore.

Cost is $330 per person and includes lunches. Registration deadline is Wednesday.

On July 24-25, two representatives of Abundant Renewable Energy will cover the fundamental considerations of wind resource, wind turbine technology, and economics.

Participants will learn the basic steps of a successful small wind project including system sizing, tower height, micro-siting, and permitting. ARE, based in Newberg, Ore., is a company that designs, manufactures and distributes residential wind generators.

Cost is $130 per person and includes meals. Registration deadline is Wednesday.

On July 25, Christopher Dymond, senior energy analyst at the Oregon Department of Energy, will present a seminar, "High-Performance Homes."

The seminar is aimed at developers, contractors, electricians, plumbers and owner-builders who want to learn how to build an environmentally responsible home that uses half or less the energy of a conventional home.

It runs from 8 a.m. to noon at the Senior Citizens Community Center, 142 NE Dayton St., John Day.

Cost is $30 if registered by July 15; $35 at the door. Admission includes a weekend pass to SolWest.

For more information on the Energy Fair or the workshops before it, visit the fair's solar-powered website, www.solwest.org.

Registration forms also can be downloaded from the website.

Or call 541-575-3633 or e-mail info@solwest.org.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricity herald.com.