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Virtual U.P. Clean Energy Conference scheduled for Nov. 9

ESCANABA — Upper Peninsula residents, government leaders, businesses and other organizations are invited to the virtual U.P. Clean Energy Conference from 2 to 4:30 p.m. (EST) Monday, Nov. 9. The conference is organized by a team of renewable energy advocates and analysts who hope to support the recommendations of the governor’s U.P. Energy Task Force, which will complete its work in March.

“The U.P. has an incredible opportunity to get ahead of the renewable energy curve as a result of this U.P. Energy Task Force,” said Richelle Winkler, a conference organizer and a rural sociologist from Michigan Technological University. “We want to make sure that communities across the U.P. have a say in our energy futures and are prepared to take advantage of opportunities in renewable energy development that benefit local people and economic development, as well as energy independence that can come from renewable energy, while making sure we preserve our rural character.”

Those wishing to participate in this free conference need to register to receive a Zoom link, which is provided by Michigan Tech. The conference is hosted by nearly a dozen other U.P. organizations, including Michigan Energy Options, Northern Michigan University, Superior Watershed Partnership, the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan State University Extension, and all three U.P. regional planning agencies.

“This conference is well timed to get ideas in front of our community, and to get input to the Task Force while it’s still meeting,” said Jenn Hill, Marquette City Commissioner and U.P. Energy Task Force member who is also serving on the conference planning team. “Renewable energy is coming, and the U.P. has a chance to be leading Michigan’s rural communities”.

The online conference will feature a presentation from Liesl Clark, U.P. Energy Task Force Chair and Director of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment (EGLE), who will share updates from the task force and information about their mission. Bay Mills Indian Community Chair Bryan Newland will speak about the unique opportunities tribal nations have to engage in renewable energy. David Gard of 5 Lakes Energy, will review electricity demand across the U.P. and evaluate possibilities of incorporating more renewables for meeting those needs with U.P. generation.

Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute will address how local governments can engage in citing renewable projects to best benefit their communities.

The conference planning team is also planning additional webinars to be held later this winter that will bring additional content about renewable energy.

“The conference planning team found there to be so many different topics about renewable energy that we couldn’t fit them all in one afternoon session,” said Michael Larson of Michigan Energy Options, also a member of the U.P. Energy Task Force. “We’re pleased to be able to host several more sessions throughout the winter around energy issues and solutions in the U.P.”

Registration for the conference is available at the Upper Peninsula Clean Energy Conference website, which also features the full list of host organizations, conference planning information and the program agenda.

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