Friday, April 14, 2006

Renewable Enegy - Creating partnerships to create energy in Klickitat County.

Klickitat County has expressed a high level of public interest in Renewable Energy. The WSU Learning Center Klickitat Co. recognized this and has been offering a variety of classes/workshops and is hosting a renewable energy exploratory group. Since the beginning of the renewable energy movement Klickitat County has fostered adoption of alternatives to traditional energy sources. There are countless homes, ranches and businesses that are using the sun, wind and water to generate electricity and have incorporated passive techniques to conserve the energy they have worked so hard to produce.

In August 2005, The WSU Learning Center partnered with the City of Goldendale, Klickitat Co., Klickitat Public Utility District (PUD), USDA Rural Development and the NRCS to present a renewable energy seminar. The community’s response was overwhelming. Guest speakers represented Seraphim Electric, USDA Rural Development, Klickitat PUD, Northwest Seed, and WSU small wind volunteers.

Topics included: What is Renewable Energy?, Wind Power in Klickitat County, Financing Options and Payback, and Washington’s New Renewable Energy Legislation. Chris Cassidy, Director if the USDA Rural development in Washington State, said “I have never seen a turnout like this even in the big towns. To have 83 people show up on a Saturday says something.”

The Learning Center collected $1,514 in advertising donations and registration fees. A follow-up solar installation class was attended by nine community members. The Klickitat Renewable Energy Exploratory Group (KREEG) was formed, with 15-20 regular participants with an additional 37 people who requested to be included on the mailing list. Most are Klickitat Co. landowners who are either using renewable energy, or plan to in the future. KREEG is launching an economic development effort called “The 500 Letters Campaign” to encourage Ovonics, a solar PV manufacturing company to consider locating in Klickitat County. KREEG is also starting a community outreach program involving local middle school, high school, home school and 4-H students to help with home energy audits. During Goldendale’s Earth Day Celebration, KREEG plans to offer free energy audits and conservation ideas to local residents.