A crowd of roughly 400 came from across Colorado and the United States to enjoy the day-long event at the Montrose Pavilion, which culminated in the Cooperative’s Annual Meeting that evening.
Throughout the day, representatives of business, government and non-profit organizations shared ideas and strategies for making the most of alternative energy technologies.
During the evening meeting, Keynote Speaker Don Juhasz, chief of energy policy for the United States Army, emphasized the critical work being done in support of renewable energy at military facilities and the national security threat posed by America’s reliance on fossil fuels and imported oils.
Attendees took advantage of opportunities to mingle with business owners and policy makers and to learn more about the technologies that will power the future – from geothermal systems and green building techniques to ovens powered by the sun.
Outside, the vehicles that jammed the parking lot included not only traditionally powered cars and trucks, but the most innovative alternative forms of transportation, from hybrids to autos powered entirely by electricity and renewable fuels.
“Isn’t this wonderful?” DMEA Boardmember Nancy Hovde said. “I love the community involvement of the people here today – we’ve got everyone from representatives of the coal mines to the Western Slope Environmental Resource Council (WSERC). Energy cooperatives are all about community, and working toward sustainability.”
A deeply personal commitment to finding new energy solutions was exemplified by DMEA’s Safety Director Mike Murray, who displayed the recumbent bicycles that carry him back and forth to the office every day.
“I bike six miles to work, one way,” Murray explained. “It’s another form of alternative transportation.”
Recumbent bicycles are very comfortable and are less susceptible to wind resistance, said biking enthusiast and Montrose resident Stu Krebs.
“A kid at CSU built my first recumbent bike,” Krebs said. “I snuck into a wind tunnel there one day, and discovered that at 30 miles per hour, my recumbent bike had 25 percent less wind resistance than the best, most fancy conventional racing bike.”
Cruising effortlessly past lycra-clad cyclists on more traditional bikes as they struggle over high mountain passes is part of the fun, he added.
One of the Expo’s key programs was an energy efficiency presentation by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Colorado’s second largest electric utility and the power provider for 1.4 million people in a 250,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Lee Boughey of Tri-State discussed the utility giant’s plans to partner with First Solar, Inc. of Tempe, Arizona in the development of a 30-megawatt (AC) 500,000-panel solar photovoltaic power plant in Northeastern New Mexico – one of the largest solar photovoltaic projects in the world, according to DMEA spokesperson Tom Polikalas.
For Malea Ferrier, employed by a roofing company, attending the Energy Efficiency Expo made good business sense.
“My boss sent me,” Ferrier explained. “We are interested in learning more about energy efficiency, so we can pass the knowledge along to our customers in the Steamboat Springs area.”
In addition to booths and displays, the Expo hosted sessions on a variety of key subjects, including the availability of financing for business-related energy projects; energy efficient businesses; cutting-edge lighting technologies; home energy efficiency; the use of tax credits and Federal stimulus money for home energy efficiency improvements; and plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.