CUSTER, Wis. — The nuts and bolts of the steady transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies were again on display in this bucolic upper Midwest crossroads during the summer solstice.
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s annual energy fair again drew hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees from as far away as Alaska.
While the residential transition to new energy technologies has been slow in places like Wisconsin, the business community is embracing solar and other alternative energy sources in a big way. Focus on Energy, an organization backed by state utilities and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, estimates that only about 1 percent of state residences have installed solar and other renewable energy technologies. However, the group says businesses and institutions across the Dairy State have taken advantage of tax breaks to install solar and other green technologies.
This year’s energy fair again featured a range of technology approaches for conserving energy as well as generating it from new sources. For example, solar thermal schemes, suppliers and installers continue to expand, especially for technologies as complex as geothermal heating and cooling and as simple as tank-less water heaters.
According to fair organizers, this year’s show included: 38 solar electric exhibitors; 17 solar thermal companies; 15 wind power companies; five transportation vendors, including makers of electric cars and engines powered by biomass; and six utilities.
Along with the local delicacy, deep-fried cheese curds, there was also a “polka breakfast” during the fair featuring one of central Wisconsin’s many ethnic bands with Polish roots. .
For an in-depth look at this year’s energy fair, see our slideshow here.