Workshop promotes energy efficiency

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Incandescent light bulbs will be phased off the market in the United States starting in 2012, thanks to an energy law approved by Congress about four years ago in an attempt to reduce electricity use and lower greenhouse gases.

In response, homes and businesses in Freeborn County will be affected because consumers will need to purchase different kinds of bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs that light many offices will be sold at lower watts, as well.

“It’s affecting my world and it’s a change that’s going to affect your world,” said Jeffrey Jackson, branch manager of Crescent Electric.

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Jackson gave a 20-minute presentation during an energy efficiency and recycling workshop on Thursday, put on by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Green Committee. Jackson also talked about tax incentives and rebates being offered through the government to help businesses and individuals best benefit from these changes.

Other presenters included Sharon Schriever, executive director of Southeast Minnesota Recycling, Krysta Larson of Minnesota Technical Assistance Program and Greg Kaelberer, site manager of Bent Tree Wind Farm. Jay Pratz, director of energy services with Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services, discussed energy audits and improvement services.

Lisa Noty with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said a large number of grain dryers have been installed in rural areas across the state thanks to the USDA Rural Development Energy Efficiency Improvement Grant Program. In the future, she sees a significant amount of energy efficiency changes being introduced in a variety of industries, including grocery stores.

“There’s a significant amount of business to be done in grocery stores, from the lighting, ventilation, freezers and refrigeration,” she said.

About 20 people from the local business community and local government agencies attended the workshop, held at the Moose Lodge. Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr said the goal of the event was to bring local business associates and owners together with energy efficiency resources to help with cost savings.

Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever attended the event to learn new ways on making the Freeborn County Courthouse more energy efficient. He said the government center partnered with Alliant Energy on an energy share project in the past, however, that comes to an end this year. It will free up some dollars in the budget that he would like to see go back into energy efficiency projects within the courthouse, and was simply there to see what kinds of things could be proposed.

Century 21 Realtors Bob Donovan and Pam Schmidt were there to find out about tax advantages and energy grants for residents.

“It’s important to educate our buyers and sellers on incentive programs and about new ways to become energy efficient,” said Schmidt.