Thursday, March 31, 2011

Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference held in Columbia

COLUMBIA, MO (KBIA) - Around 160 policy makers, business leaders and scholars came to Columbia for the sixth annual Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference.

This annual one-day conference usually focuses on the use of wind, solar and biomass energy. But this year, conference leaders also sought out speakers who could describe the business side of renewable energy.

Frank Cunningham of Columbia’s Water and Light Department helped organize this year’s conference. He says they decided to focus on the economy after the topic resonated with participants last year.

“How can renewables help our economy? Because as everybody knows our economy has its problems, but in energy efficiency and renewables, there are jobs being developed, and there are new jobs out there in these markets, so we wanted to highlight some of those activities,” Cunningham said.

Speakers represented companies like Nordic WindPower, a wind turbine producer that is relocating to Kansas City, and Hubble Power Systems in Centralia, whose business making foundations for solar panels has created 60 jobs in the past year.

Doug Kirk, an engineer at Hubble, was part of a panel that discussed how companies are creating jobs in Missouri.

“Basically what we did was expand into a new market, expanded our customer base and just used the factory, the marketing and salespeople we already had and just chased a different customer base. And when we landed that business it was more than we could handle so we had to hire people,” Kirk said.

Other conference topics were how to attract renewable energy companies to Missouri, and measuring Missouri’s energy efficiency.

Lydia Mulvany, KBIA news


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