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Education institute to look at energy

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Solar power. Wind power. Bio-mass.

These are a few of the renewable energy sources Bill Perreault is hoping people will be interested in when the Seven Generation Education Institute hosts an conference on the subject Feb. 6 at the Couchiching Bingo Palace.

“We want to make people more informed on the various renewable energy sources available,” said Perreault, a post-secondary program co-ordinator who is trying to get the word out the conference will be taking place.

“It’s basically for public interest. If you’re thinking about building a new home or converting to a different power source, this would be the place to learn about it,” he remarked.

Stemming from both the science department at the institute and some interest among Couchiching residents, Perreault said there’s a demand for the conference in the area.

“Some of the people on the reserve are already planning on converting their homes to using 100 percent solar energy. Interest in this kind of thing is spreading,” he noted.

Perreault already has lined up about eight speakers for the conference, ranging from energy experts from across Canada and the U.S. to locals who already run their homes on alternate energy sources.

“For instance, there’s this gentleman from Pinewood who has lived on solar power for 13-14 years. He’s changed his lifestyle because of the power he uses,” Perreault said.

“When I say, ‘Well, we had a power outage here,’ he would say, ‘What’s that?’ He’s on his own system,” he added.

Self-sufficiency is big part of the appeal of alternate energy sources, said Perreault. “Some people had generators during the power failure a few weeks ago. If more people had renewable energy sources during something like that, it wouldn’t be a problem for them.

“Nobody can ‘turn out the lights’ so to speak,” he noted.

Another reason to look into renewable energy was the pollution-free or pollution-reduced aspect.

“It’s very environment-friendly. Wind and solar power is completely pollution-free. With bio-mass, you’re burning wood. But that just means you replant trees,” he argued.

“And with a small hydro electric generator, we do it in a non-evasive way. You don’t need a dam—just use a constantly flowing water source,” Perreault stressed.

Besides speakers, various distributors of solar panels and such will be there. And Perreault said attendees could walk away with more than a little knowledge.

“It’s also an opportunity for people to make connections with others within the area who have similar interests,” he said.

With the conference just over three weeks away, Perreault is hoping more people would confirm their attendance.

“I guess, at the present time, I have more interest from my speakers than anyone else. One guy said he would do the seminar no matter what, and then we could talk about ‘What can do to encourage alternate energy use?’” he remarked.

Cost to attend the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. conference is $65, including lunch.

Those interested can contact the institute at 274-2796.

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