Enthusiasm for energy efficiency celebrated at fair


January 19, 2011
MEREDITH — A mutual interest in energy efficiency brought hundreds of people to the town's first energy fair.

The Meredith Regional Energy Fair drew over 250 people to the community center on Saturday for the assembly of vendors and presenters on various topics related to green and renewable energy.

Over 30 vendors from state and local agencies and a variety of businesses showed their products and services from energy audits, solar panels, and pellet stoves, to bank financing and electric rebates.

Presentations took place throughout the day on energy efficiency and planning from various experts in their fields.

The high turnout was a happy surprise for organizers, who said they expected closer to 100 or possibly 200 people. Town Planner Angela LeBrecque said 250 programs and packages of materials were made for the fair. Around 3 p.m., attendance passed that mark.

"We just really want to stimulate people to start thinking about energy as a first step," LeBrecque said.

Seth Wheeler of the New Hampshire Electric Co-op did a presentation on the Smart Grid System planned to start in Meredith. He was also in the vendors room talking to people about opportunities for energy savings through the Co-op. Wheeler praised the work of the fair's organizers, including their efforts reaching out to the business community.

Wheeler said the Co-op has taken part in fairs in Laconia and Manchester, though few people in attendance were Co-op customers.

"We have so few of these shows that are really in our core service territory," Wheeler said. "We've seen more Co-op members here than we will at any three or four shows."

Wheeler said this gives customers more of an opportunity to learn what the Co-op has been doing for renewable energy, including plans for the Smart Grid system and energy rebates.

"There's a real enthusiasm for energy efficiency in general, a lot of people interested in different types of it," Wheeler said. "It shows us that there's an interest in it and we're headed down the right path with our programs."

Energysavers of Meredith had a display at the fair that included pellet stoves and pellets. Owner Steve Dumais said Community Development Director John Edgar contacted him about displaying at the fair and he "jumped at the chance."

"I think this is the beginning of something that could be really good for this area," Dumais said. "It's interesting to talk to people that really care about saving."

Dumais said there are not many fairs in the area, a reason why the fair in Meredith was a good idea: bringing local people and businesses to one place. He said he talked to many people at the fair about pellet stoves and energy.

"It's interesting to hear them say they didn't know about pellet stoves, they didn't know about other things that we do," Dumais said.

Trudy and Marty Pelletier of Holderness came to the fair after Marty Pelletier learned about it on a radio commercial.

"We're in the midst of a remolding project at the house and are always thinking about the different energy opportunities we can use," Trudy Pelletier said.

They gained much knowledge of different opportunities through the fair, including options for windows, pellet stoves, and others.

"Learning about new opportunities we didn't know existed before," Trudy Pelletier said.

Sally Downs of Meredith said she has had an interest in renewable energy and came to the fair to see what it was about.

"I'm going to be making some phone calls, particularly on solar," Downs said. "I think it's a great idea and I'm so happy to see so many people turn out for it."

Organizers said the energy fair could become an annual event. Members of the Energy Committee are also looking at other options for outreach, including working with other local energy groups.

"Energy efficiency is a process not an event," said Energy Committee member Mark Billings. "The whole idea is to continue the education process and there are so many ways we can do that."

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