Alternative Energy Conference in Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/12/05

Alternative Energy Conference in Savannah

Solar power is slowly getting more popular. "It's free energy. It's amazing," said Stan Hedgcorth, whose Tybee Island company, Coastal Solar Technologies, sells solar equipment. "I'm blown away that there's not more people into it."

The approximately 130 people attending a conference called Alternative Energy Technology Innovation: The Coming Economic Boom are very into it. They're gathering at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center to help spread the word about solar and other forms of alternative energy.

It's an effort "to help position Georgia to take advantage of what we believe is going to be a very big economic boom around alternative energy," said Bill Dobb of Infinite Energy, an economic development group.

The familiar sight of windshield sun screens can be seen just about anywhere on any given day in coastal Georgia. People around here know the power of the sun. What the experts are asking is why aren't we turning more of that into free energy?

"I think that with the price of oil now at $52 a barrel, obviously down the road as oil prices stay like that, it's going to be more and more attractive to people to go to," said Mikell Cates of Remote Technology, is also in the solar business. "The costs are coming down, interest is going up."

While most solar gear remains costly, they say devices like solar water heaters ultimately save you money.

"If you have a family of four and you do the laundry once or twice a day and hot water heaters and showers and so forth, that unit will pay for itself in probably five years," said Hedgcorth. "If you can save $25 a month off your electrical bill, it's just a no-brainer."

And for those who take the plunge and go 100 percent alternative, there's an added bonus in the State of Georgia. "Technically, any electricity that you make that you don't use is sold back to the power company. And by law they have to buy it back from you," explained Hedgcorth.

Now that's a truly alternative way of doing things.

If you're interested in the conference, it continues through tomorrow. Price information and registration is available online:

http://www.gtrep.gatech.edu/outreach/workshop/

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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