New Gorge group Renewable energy council hosts Thursday forum on biodiesel

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

March 4, 2006

The Mid-Columbia Renewable Energy Council will host a public forum about biodiesel use in the Columbia Gorge Thursday, March 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the West Side Fire District in Hood River.

The goal of this forum is to unite biodiesel efforts in the region to strengthen biofuel knowledge and availability in the Gorge, according to Katie MacKendrick, planning specialist for with the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District.

Fruit and grain growers, diesel users, service stations, biodiesel producers, local distributors and the general public are welcome to come ask questions, listen to a panel discussion on biodiesel, and connect with others to increase biodiesel production, distribution and use.

A representative from Sequential Biofuels, a biofuels distribution and marketing company in Oregon, will explain how pure and used vegetable oils become fuel that is interchangeable with petroleum diesel. Local farmers and residents will share their experiences using biodiesel in on-farm and on-road vehicles.

A local distributor will discuss how users can fill up with biodiesel and improve biodiesel availability and storage in the region.

A Renewable Energy Program coordinator for the Oregon Department of Energy will explain economic incentives, energy policies, and options for biodiesel users. And Wy’east R.C. & D. will offer insight on incentives for growers.

Each panelist will spend 10 minutes sharing their experiences and perspectives. Afterwards they will answer audience questions. At the end, attendees will have the opportunity to move around and make connections with others present.

The Renewable Energy Council (MCREC) is a volunteer council with more than 60 members working in many sectors of renewable energy throughout the region. Through education and networking, MCREC aims to create a sustainable renewables economy with viable agriculture businesses and strong small farms, according to McKendrick.

This forum is the first in a series of educational forums MCREC will host throughout the region to highlight renewable energy projects. MCREC evolved from meetings put together by the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District to create a renewable energy cluster in the region in spring 2005.

The council hosts a listserv to maintain momentum between forums and increase renewable energy discussion, awareness, and action in the Mid Columbia.

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