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Daily Newscasts

WA's New Cash Crop: Energy Entrepreneurs

February 1, 2010

KENNEWICK, Wash. - Washington communities and landowners have a lot of options to "go greener," save energy and make money from it, but not all of them know where to start or how to finance their projects. Some of the nation's experts will offer advice this month at the Harvesting Clean Energy conference in the Tri-Cities.

Read Smith, a Spokane-area wheat farmer and one of the presenters, says anyone who wants to become an "energy entrepreneur" will be able to find information useful for towns, farms and businesses of all sizes.

"Bio-economy, energy innovation in food processing, new energy opportunities for irrigated agriculture, clean energy policy for rural development, smart grid work - everybody is going be touched by this."

The list of presenters reads like a "who's who" of business leaders, scientists, utilities, state and federal agencies and members of Congress. It's the 10th annual conference, so the theme is to look back 10 years and ahead 10 years, at new technology and energy independence for the Northwest.

The conference includes a tour of several local businesses that are using new energy technology. According to Smith, who also chairs 25 by '25, a national agriculture group that supports U.S. energy self-sufficiency, it isn't easy being a pioneer in this field, but those who have taken the plunge are beginning to see the payoffs.

"There are countless challenges, but the rewards are going to be tremendous - not only the equity that's going to stay in our home communities, but the security of producing energy locally."

"Harvesting Clean Energy" starts Feb. 7 at the Tri-Cities Convention Center, Kennewick. Conference details are available at www.harvestcleanenergy.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA