Western Slope Goes Green

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A renewable energy forum and expo was held at Montrose Pavilion Saturday in hopes of changing the way the public thinks about energy. What many learned, however, was the Grand Valley is already well on its way to making the switch to alternative energy forms.

Hundreds of curious people from all over the Western Slope came to the forum to learn what renewable energy sources can do for the environment and their wallets.

Although it seemed like many of the technologies on display were years advanced, energy experts say that's not the case.

"These are technologies that are viable today," said DMEA spokesperson Ryan Henn. "We're going to be seeing more of these in five years to ten years."

In some cases, the wait might not be that long.

The proposed expansion of the Montrose County Rec Center will feature a geothermal heating system. Directors of the project say the system is more environmentally friendly and more money friendly.

"Our payback with geothermal is going to be seven years if we used it with our expansion and our existing aquatic center," said Dean Palmguist, Director of the Montrose Recreation District. "It's going to save us about eight-hundred thousand dollars over twenty years."

Montrose also has a gas station that sells bio-diesel, a cleaner burning fuel that is made from local plant crops. Speakers at the forum say alternative fuels like bio-diesel and liquid hydrogen have great potential.

"You can clean the air, you keep money in your pocket, and you support our local economy," said Tai Robinson, a worker for Intergalactic Hydrogen.

Area car dealerships are riding the renewable energy wave as well, having success with sales of hybrid cars.

"There's been a huge push with people being more conscientious of the environment as well as trying to wean ourselves off of foreign oil," said Nicole Vinson, a dealer at the Hellman Motor Company in Delta. "More and more everday are coming in, getting interested in the new hybrids."

Many of those in attendance say the forum was a good learning experience, and they hope to see these renewable energy sources in their communities very soon.

"I think everybody should be looking towards this way," said Glade Park resident Kathy Piispane. "It's important to a lot of people."

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