Summary of REINVENT Track
The Reinvent track featured 5 “ignite” presentations in the morning from individuals and community-based organizations that have implemented renewable energy strategies in their homes and communities. Each 5 minute presentation was followed by 5 minutes of dialogue with track participants. Morning presenters included (see web site for more details):
- Tim Heppner purchased a house in a low income neighborhood in Chicago, and proceeded to transform it share the skills and experience he has gained with others.
- Susan Ask works in Ginko Gardens to re-invent the food system to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build community.
- William Pool uses waste vegetable oil and homemade equipment to make biodiesel fuel which he uses to power his own and other vehicles. More waste vegetable oil is needed!
- Ana Garcia Doyle has reinvented her 96 year old home to make it a demonstration of energy efficiency and renewable energy with a geothermal HVAC system.
- Mac Robinet shared the process he followed in planning for the installation of solar panels at his home including location, contractor selection, costs, rebates & monitoring.
The group was encouraged to see that renewable energy is actually feasible in the Chicagoland area and that real people are doing it. There was a sense of urgency that emerged from the group about getting the word out about the potential that is there here and now.
In the afternoon session of the Reinvent Track we had 4 “ignite” presentations from representatives larger organizations (public, private & non-profit sectors) that shared things that their organizations do to support the work we are doing in our communities
- Amy Kurt, Clean Line Energy, discussed the need to enhance the electrical grid in order to realize the potential for wind energy in Illinois and the support needed to do that.
- Kacie Peters, Renewable Energy Alternative, gave the group a quick “Solar 101” course on the basics of solar photovoltaic systems and what to expect when looking into it.
- Sarah Wochos, Env. Law & Policy Center, provided an overview of the Illinois policy landscape for solar energy: net metering, interconnection and municipal aggregation.
- Michael Berkshire, Chicago Housing & Economic Development, introduced Solar Express which streamlines permitting, zoning & interconnection for solar projects.
The big take away from the afternoon session was the urgent need for policies and systems that will support the potential for developing renewable energy sources and the fact that we, as residents, homeowners and citizens can have significant influence on our elected leaders to implement them.
At the close of the Reinvent Track, we reflected on the fact that Illinois is significantly behind other countries (and even other US states) in the development of renewable energy. One question that the group was left with was how do we develop the political will and local knowledge base to “scale it up!”