Teachers, residents and officials are taking part in this weekend's energy conference and expo at Chautauqua Suites.
The third annual conference and exposition, which is free to attend, features a variety of presentations including how to make homes green, energy issues related to the county's comprehensive plan, home heating and cooling, energy efficiency, how to reduce energy demands, information on Marcellus Shale, corporate energy strategies, energy-efficient automobiles, solar power and more.
Visiting the expo Friday were Persell Middle School teachers Tim Whitacre and Mike Swanson.
Photo by Sharon Turano
Shirley LaMancuso examines exhibits Friday at the Chautauqua County Energy Conference and Expo at Chautauqua Suites.
"It's a very important issue," said Whitacre, who said the price of energy continues to rise, so he wants to educate students about its future.
The technology instructor said he teams up with Swanson, a science teacher, for some projects including one involving students designing a propeller and blades for wind turbines. Swanson said getting information at the expo allows the teachers to share it with students so they can "make smarter decisions" about energy use.
Busti resident Sherwood VanDewark was there to get that knowledge, also. He said he has an older house in the country that needs energy improvements. Visiting the expo, he said, allowed him to talk to vendors and get information to keep current about how best to address the energy needs of his home.
Panama's Robin Smith said she came to find out about all of the "new" energy-efficient items available in hopes of saving money. Another woman, who did not wish to be identified, said that brought her to the event also. In fact, she said, she came "for the freebies," which included light bulbs, posted notes, pens and information on how to conduct a weatherization audit of her home.
"We're being wasteful and we can't afford to be," said Shirley LaMancuso, who also visited the expo. She said she found innovative ideas about "going green," which she thinks is important for her future, along with her children's future.
Kicking off the event was County Executive Greg Edwards. He said the expo provides a way to "think of the future," and said each year it is held, it improves.
"We're all in the energy business," said Doug Champ, conference coordinator. He said some people buy energy, others sell it and still more transport it. If one is not involved with any of those transactions, he said, they may be parents who need to make youth aware of the future of energy.
Ward Marshall of Pattern Energy spoke about one energy use that may be part of the area's future: "Chautauqua County Wind Farms, their status and perspectives ." He said his firm is looking to tap energy from more windy areas of the country and get it to markets where wind is not as good.
"We're trying to create a product called electricity," he said, adding the company for which he works hopes someone will then purchase that energy. Working on wind projects, he said, has changed. It used to be about wind, he said, adding it is now about transmission. Financing of wind projects, too, is "tough" in New York, where he said, legislative change is needed to streamline the financing aspects if wind projects are desired.
"Eventually, it'll get fixed," he said. "I think there will be a revival in New York," said Marsall. Until then, he said, financing is "another hurdle" to get projects done.
One such project on which he is working, he said, is Ripley/Westfield's, where 9,021 acres will provide for 54 turbines to serve 43,000 homes, if permits needed for the project are approved. He said Environmental Impact Studies are expected to conclude by January so a vote on the permits can be taken. If allowed, he said, construction would begin in the spring of 2010, with turbine delivery in the summer of 2012 and operations beginning that fall.
The Chautauqua County Energy Conference and Expo will continue today at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville.