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Conference: Rural Wisconsin Can Earn Big “Green” From Green Energy

February 5, 2008

Madison, WI – Rural Wisconsin can get a major economic boost from new energy production but it'll take some planning, according to organizers of the Midwest Agriculture Energy Summit starting today in Madison.

Gary Radloff with the state Agriculture Department says there's a great opportunity for alternative energy in Wisconsin, especially with the state's renewable energy standard in place. He says there's no "one-size-fits-all" approach — different areas will benefit from different types of energy.

"For some communities, there may be tremendous opportunities with wind power; for other communities, they want to look at energy efficiency and solar power. For some communities, it's going to be bio-mass to energy, using something maybe like an energy crop such as switch grass."

He says forestry products are also a good option, especially in the northern parts of the state.

The conference will focus on ways rural communities can build their local energy industries, and keep the profits in the area.

Jocie Iszler with the Midwest Agriculture Energy Network says alternative energy can help fight global warming and promote energy independence, but the big news is on the bottom line.

"Many see renewable energy as being the next opportunity for a rural renaissance, because of the huge opportunity to generate wealth and keep that wealth in the local community."

Radloff says Wisconsin has had some early successes, but there's lots of untapped potential, especially with the state's renewable energy standard in place.

"Benefits to the rural economy could be huge, but they only will be if we're strategic about it."

For more information on the Midwest Agriculture Energy Summit, visit
www.midwestagenergy.net.

Rob Ferrett/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - WI