BSU to host Sept. 14 forum on solar energy

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sept. 6, 2011) — Jason Edens, executive director of the Pine River, Minn.-based Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, will discuss solar power and its potential for addressing fuel poverty during a Wednesday, Sept. 14 presentation at Bemidji State University.

Edens’ presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at Bemidji State’s American Indian Resource Center and is open to the public.

The forum will also feature Dr. Patrick Welle, professor of economics and environmental studies at Bemidji State. Welle will discuss the relationship between mercury emissions from fossil fuels and water quality, an emphasis area for his research. The Minnesota Department of Health has consumption limits recommended for fish caught in 28 of 30 tested Beltrami-county lakes due to mercury contamination.

The alliance delivers solar air heat to low-income families on energy assistance as a lasting solution to fuel poverty. Solar assistance fosters ecological health, social equity and self reliance while providing families with decades of renewable, domestic energy. The alliance’s Solar Powered Furnace, featuring solar panels designed and manufactured by the alliance that are designed to integrate seamlessly with residential and commerical buildings of all sizes, has been certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation.

The non-profit Rural Renewable Energy Alliance has received numerous competitive grants and award, including the Social Entrepreneur’s Cup, and the Initiative Foundation Green Venture Award. It also was a finalist for the Minnesota Cup and Governor’s Pollution Prevention Award. The alliance has recently doubled its manufacturing capacity through funding provided by a federal grant, and it also has been awarded grants through the Bush Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, Patagonia, and the Initiative Foundation, among others.

With an interest in the potential of solar energy as a way to help struggling families during the winter, Edens founded the alliance in 2000 and ran it out of his garage for five years while he taught high school. It existed as an all-volunteer, part-time effort until its success and additional funding allowed him to begin pursuing the venture full-time in 2005.

The forum is sponsored by Bemidji State University’s Sustainability Office and Students for the Environment club. It is also sponsored by the Grassroots Energy Network and Lueken’s Village Foods.

For more information, contact the Bemidji State University Sustainability Office at (218) 755-2560.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance