More than 2,500 attendees gathered over the weekend at the Mason County Fairgrounds in Ludington for the annual Michigan Energy Fair, sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.
The event featured information and demonstrations on renewable energy — solar, wind, biomass and biofuels — for homes, small businesses and communities. All told, some 60 vendors were displaying systems, and more than 70 workshops were offered.
The event opened Friday at 2 p.m. with workshops on community wind power, home wind power, the economics of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, renewable energy financing, and more.
General Motors led the demonstrations, offering ride-and-drive opportunities on a fuel-cell powered SUV and in the new plug-in electric Volt.
Saturday, presentations resumed — under spectacular sunny skies — on five tracks: community wind power, small wind power, renewable and alternative energy, policy and financing, and green building – green living.
In the renewable and alternative energy track, Eric Bruski, trade ally coordinator for the Clearesult program at DTE Energy, described to an audience of contractors and energy auditors how DTE’s home energy audit and efficiency rebate programs work. Bruski said DTE offers everything from a free online audit called MyEnergy Analyzer to a comprehensive energy audit that the homeowner pays for at market rate — though there is a rebate of up to $150 for those audits. DTE also offers rebates of $50 to $300 for projects like ceiling and basement insulation, air sealing, window replacement and more. Details at www.yourenergysavings.com
Later, Chevrolet Volt owner Liesl Clark conducted a session describing her personal experience driving the Volt. Like my experience on the GLITR Spring Tech tour, hers has been overwhelmingly positive.
Also, Kathleeen Law of Clean Michigan predicted that energy costs will be increasing 5 percent a year for the foreseeable future, and that there will soon be disruptions in climate and air quality — pushing public acceptance of some of the hassles of renewable energy and efficiency efforts, including an upfront investment that is higher than today’s energy prices.
The event continued through Sunday afternoon, featuring an awards banquet Saturday night and a meeting of the Michigan chapter of Women of Wind Energy at the fairgrounds Sunday.
GLREA executive director Jennifer Alvarado called attendance at the event, held at the Mason County Fairgrounds for the first time, “something to build on.”