College Green

Exploring environmental news in Southeast Ohio

Developing, promoting local level renewable resources are the topic of ARC panel

Posted by collegegreenou on October 28, 2009

By Meghan Ventura
CG Web Manager

The sun, wood chips, cooking oil, wind and garbage might seem unrelated, but local leaders across Appalachia are finding ways to turn all of those things into clean, renewable energy.

Community leaders from Athens, Ohio, Madison County, N.C., and Hoover, Ala., met Tuesday to discuss unconventional energy sources for “The Growth of Green Communities,” a panel discussion held for the 2009 Appalachian Regional Commission Conference taking place in Ohio University’s Baker University Center through Wednesday.

The panelists shared their ideas for renewable energy programs and discussed how those ideas might be adapted to other cities in Appalachia.


Elahu Gosney, Tony Petelos and Steve Garrison during a question and answer session with the audience. Photo by Joe Edmonds

Athens City Council member Elahu Gosney talked about how to fund renewable energy projects within a community by focusing on the Athens Solar Initiative. The initiative aims to harvest the city’s sunlight by installing solar panels on residences and businesses. Athens residents who want to install solar panels can now take out special city bonds to help with the price, Gosney said. Those residents can then pay back what they owe over time through property taxes.

Steve Garrison, county manager of Madison County, N.C., discussed how his community is partnering with organizations like ARC to build wind turbines and solar panels at public schools. Garrison’s presentation also addressed how his county plans on integrating alternative energy into the classroom.

Tony Petelos, mayor of Hoover, Ala., explained how his city is turning industry refuse such as cooking oil and wood chips into energy.

Petelos said Hoover’s cooking oil recycling program turns 500 gallons of used oil per month into usable biodiesel. Using a special machine, the city can refine the oil for less than a dollar per gallon, Petelos said. Fifteen of the city’s vehicles now use the recycled oil instead of regular fuel.

The city of Hoover has also been working with Gulf Coast Energy to gasify wood waste from the logging and lumber industries to create wood ethanol. Petelos said the wood waste in Alabama alone could create 1 billion gallons of wood ethanol.

“Anything with carbon can be made into fuel,” Petelos said. “The answer [for renewable resources] is all of the above.”


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