Annual Energy and You Conference Held in Brooks Science Complex

Byline: By Shumaila Bhatti

Posted: February 24, 2013

The 2013 Energy and You committee organized the fifth annual “Energy and You” workshop on Sat, Feb. 9 in the Brooks Science Complex. This year’s topic was “Invest in Your Future: Your Energy Options.”

Dr. Edward Wells, a member of the Energy and You Committee 2013 and professor at Wilson College said that “The “Energy and You” conference provided citizens in the Franklin County area with an opportunity to learn how to save both energy and money. While some sessions focused on the energy challenges and opportunities we face as a society, others provided useful and targeted solutions for homeowners to meet their energy needs in safe and affordable ways.”

Keynote Speaker John Hanger

Keynote speaker John Hanger served as the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for over two years before entering into private practice and is also the former Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. A recognized expert on environment, energy, green economy and gas drilling, Hanger has also played a key role in the legislative body for the protection of environment.

In his keynote speech Hanger said there is no perfect alternative energy choice and weaknesses and strengths should be fairly and objectively addressed. He also revealed to the audience that there has been significant growth in the use of alternatives; in 2009 we used more nuclear and less alternative energy sources. However, now we use more alternatives compared to nuclear in our energy share.

“Solar will be the new shale gas within five years… it is a huge revelation… the Pandora’s Box has been opened,” said Hanger.

Christine Mayer, the moderator for the workshop, a member of the Energy and You Committee 2013 and Director of the Fulton Center of Sustainable Living at Wilson College said solar projects across the Chambersburg community increased. Chambersburg has 18 houses with solar panels and is the largest community with solar panels in Pennsylvania. She said the Fulton Center had an energy audit in December and another will be conducted March.

While answering a question from the audience as to why he thought solar will be the new shale gas, Hanger replied that the price of solar is coming down. Solar projects have declined in price since 2010 by more than 50% per panel, and continue to decline along with system costs.

Jason Grottini from Envinity said in his presentation that when we look at utility bills every month, we need to ask two questions. First, where does our money go? Second, where do you want it to go? There is energy loss at every step of the process from production to supply. We also pay for the lost energy that never reaches us. A typical home owner pays around $2,200 per year whereas the energy efficient home owner pays only $900 per year. The way to achieve efficiency is by following the Conservation, Efficiency and Generation model (C.E.G.). He added that we need to minimize cost, increase efficiency and reach zero net energy.

Ron Pezon, Electric Superintendent at the Chambersburg Borough, addressed the audience saying that Chambersburg is the only municipality that has its own electric generation in the United States (i.e. if the entire country has a black out, Chambersburg will still have electricity). It is a community based energy generation system. It will be achieved by landfill methane gas production and supply, called Blue Ridge Landfill Gas Power Project and is under construction right now. The idea of Tire-Derived Fuel is also being explored as a source of electricity.

In his presentation on Heat Pump Options, Tony Valente, Instructor of Industrial and Energy Technology at Hagerstown Community College said we need to recognize all the options and our #1 option is energy efficiency. While addressing the audience Valente said, “You can still make electricity. That to me is your next step.

The conference was sponsored by West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (Platinum Sponsor), Wilson College (Gold Sponsor) and AutomatedLogic (Silver Sponsor). The conference was successfully organized by the 2013 Energy and You Committee; Constance Kelley, Len Lindenmeyer, Wayne Mackey, Christine Mayer, William Mooney, Kathy Newcomer, Christina Vosburgh and Edward Wells.

Last Updated: February 24, 2013

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