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Basin residents meet to discuss energy innovations
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 11/30/06

   Imagine solar energy powering irrigation needs in the Klamath Basin or a biomass plant providing heat for public school buildings.
   Those were just some examples of alternative energy use proposed Wednesday to more than 150 farmers, ranchers and other interested Basin residents at the first annual Klamath Basin Renewable Energy Conference.
   Conference presentations and demonstrations at the Klamath County Fairgrounds provided a glimpse at what could power the Basin in the future, but whether it does depends on land owners and government entities.
   “I go to a lot of energy conferences and I was thoroughly impressed,” said David King, a Malin farmer and president of the Klamath County Hay Growers Association.
   Dealing with rising costs
   The Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District, the Klamath Water Users Association and the Klamath County Commissioners organized the conference in response to the growing energy costs, said Rick Woodley, director of the conservation district.
   Other organizations and individuals offered help. The response was so great that organizers were forced to turn speakers away because of time restraints, Woodley said.
   A variety of alternative energy options were presented, from wind and solar energy to the use of biomass and biofuels.
   Christopher Dymond, a senior energy analyst with the U.S. Department of Energy, outlined the Basin’s high potential to use solar energy because of the region’s sunshine.
   The energy uses of a biomass plant were presented by Jim Vancura, project coordinator with OR-CAL Resource Conservation & Development Area Council.
   Practical example
   Not all the presentations were based on ideas and concepts, though. Harold Hartman, a farmer from Malin, talked about a two-year project he is conducting with the water users association, using a photovoltaic solar array to run irrigation pumps. The Lake County Bio-Mass Project is working toward building a bio-mass plant to power public buildings as well as create jobs.
   Woodley said he was happy with the event’s turnout. While members of various agencies and groups attended, so did 120 farmers and ranchers, the people he said were the target audience of the conference.
   “It’s got to be landowners who want to do this,” he said.
   Rancher Glenn Lorenz said he found the seminars interesting and was especially interested in using low-head hydroelectric or geothermal energy on his family’s ranch near Swan Lake.
   King said application of alternative energies was limited in the Basin for now because of the high initial costs, but that he did think that as energy costs rise, they will become more feasible.

H&N photo by Todd E. Swenson Bio Tech, Inc. vice president Kent Blomgren, 60, fills a canister with bio-diesel during the renewable energy conference Wednesday.
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