Rise for Renewables a family-friendly way to learn about future of energy

MORGANTOWN — Rise for Renewables was celebrated Saturday in Morgantown.

It was held in conjuction with an international Rise for Climate Day.

The Morgantown Farmer’s Market Pavilion hosted the event, which was sponsored by the West Virginia Sierra Club, Morgantown Green Team, Mountaineers for Progress, Sierra Student Coalition, and Solar United Neighbors.

Penny Dacks, from Mountaineers for Progress, said the day was chosen because the Rise for Climate Day sees events around the world put focus on climate. Each participating location promotes what is important to their region.

“For us, with the struggles that West Virginia has, with the economy that we have, what’s really important is that we need to diversify our economy, and at the end of the day renewable energy is a hot emerging field,” Dacks said.

She said policy changes would allow for bringing renewable energy jobs. She said West Virginia is not doing a lot to promote renewable energy and could do more. She said other states offer credits to bring solar-related jobs to companies, as well as net metering that gives credit to solar users.

“Solar employs more people in this country than coal does, why aren’t we tapping into that more and bringing those jobs here,” she said.

Laura Yokochi, from the West Virginia Sierra Club, said that group promotes enjoying the outdoors and preserving public lands and wild lands. Right now the big issue is climate change and problems with overdevelopment of fossil fuels.

“We want to keep our local event positive we’re concentrating on supporting renewable energy and that will be the energy of the future. If we don’t want to be left behind in West Virginia we need to invest in renewable energy because that’s where the future lies,” Yokochi said.

She said sponsors wanted the event to be for families, where children could play games. She said there was a solar oven on site, but given an overcast day it wasn’t working too well.

Autumn Long, director of Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia, was there to answer questions from those interested in installing solar panels. The nonprofit is working to start the new Mountaineer Country Solar Co-op to get a group of people together who want to go solar and guides them through the process.

“It helps really educate people in what they’re investing in and how they’re going to save money by going solar and we give people confidence in their investment,” she said.

She said solar can offset up to 100 percent of annual electric consumption and with net metering, a utility company must credit a user for every kilowatt shared with the electric grid.

Long said it is much more affordable to go solar than it has ever been.

“It’s a win-win, because you’re saving money, you’re producing your own electric and you’re becoming an active part of the energy system in a way that previously hasn’t been possible for consumers,” she said.

This year is the third for the solar co-op, and Long said she has seen a great interest. There will be an informational session at 5:30p.m. Sept. 24 at the Morgantown Public Library.

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