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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

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For the week of  October 31 - November 6, 2001


Renewable energy fair for all ages

Cars that run on mustard oil 
and ethanol featured

Express Staff Writer
and The Associated Press

The Volkswagen Bug smelled like mustard and the Boise City Police cruiser smelled like grapes.

Hailey third graders learn the lowdown on the Boise Police Department’s Chevy Chevelle that runs on 100 percent ethanol. The police cruiser was one of the displays Friday at the Renewable Energy Fair at Elkhorn. Express photo by Willy Cook.

The two cars were just a couple of the displays at the Second Annual Renewable Energy Fair held Friday at the Elkhorn Resort.

The Volkswagen ran on 100 percent Ethyl Ester Yellow Mustard Oil, and the Chevelle police cruiser ran on 100 percent ethanol. Both fuels are made from renewable agricultural products.

The fair at Elkhorn was the collaboration of Linda Reed of the Blaine Soil Conservation District in Hailey and John Crockett of the Idaho Department of Water Resources Energy Division in Boise.

Third-graders from Carey and Hailey were given a special message from the Energy Division‘s Gerry Galinato and Sun Valley Councilwoman Linda O’Shea, who was standing in for Mayor Dave Wilson.

"These young citizens are really helpful in educating other youngsters and their moms and dads," Galinato said.

"My kids started learning recycling in school and they would say, ‘Dad, don’t throw those newspapers and cans and bottles away.’ "

O’Shea said she was "most encouraged" to see the third-graders.

"It is important you learn, to carry the message to your friends and family," she said. "With renewable resources, we can grow our own supply of energy."

While people visited the different displays inside and outside, classes on alternative fuels, wind power and energy efficiency went continuously from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Experts on "green power" advise people who want to tap into renewable sources such as the sun or wind to first think it through.

And the initial step in making such an investment is finding ways to use less energy at home. Agencies that hosed the fair say renewable energy is an alternative to resource-depleting materials such as fossil fuels which contribute to global warming.

"Don't make the decision on emotions. Base it on knowledge," Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory engineer Gary Seifert said.

Small windmills can be installed to supplement home energy supplies and lessen reliance on the power grid.

But first, gauge how much wind blows on the property and whether it will supply the amount of energy needed, Seifert said.

Consider local zoning laws and whether enough space is available on the property so noise does not become a problem for neighbors. A tower might obstruct their view. Local utilities have conditions if a homeowner wants to hook his generator to their power grid.

Steve Willey of Backwoods Solar Electric Systems in Sandpoint recommends cutting back on power use first.

"You can make your energy go a lot further," he said. "Start with more efficient appliances."

Solar panels can be added in stages. It is a more viable option than total conversion to solar power, unless it would cost as much or more to have a utility run electricity to a remote site.

When supplemental solar or wind systems are generating power that is not being consumed at home, the power can be sent back into the grid system and actually turn back a homeowner's meter.

Efforts are under way to make it easier for people who want to use alternative power sources, said Scott Gates of Idaho Power Co.'s energy services department.

Since the practice started 17 years ago at Idaho Power Co., only one person on the utility's grid has participated. Two more customers recently signed up.

Small-power generators apply for a permit to send excess power back into the grid, he said. Idaho Power buys it from them at wholesale price.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.