Bi-State Energy Conference promotes sustainable ideas


Nick Hylla talks about the importance of SOLSMART in neighborhoods.

Jackson Mainellis

On Tuesday, Mar. 5, Augustana College hosted the Bi-State Alternative Energy Conference in the Gavle Rooms. A half day event, the Alternative Energy Conference welcomed members of the alternative energy industry to Augie for presentation and discussion of their field. Students and faculty were also welcome to attend the conference to learn about the industry of alternative energy and its presence here in the Quad Cities.

Several big companies of the industry were present, and representatives of them made up the bulk of the speakers for the day. Throughout the day, each company would present their research and goals to the crowd of employers and lawmakers, followed by a short break for discussion and then on to the next presentation.

A notable company that presented at the event was Argonne National Laboratory, a science and engineering research center. Lee Walston, an ecologist at Argonne, was among the company’s presentation team and spoke about the use and practicality of solar power. Walston talked about what the event meant to his company.

“A coming together of businesses and state and local administrators to find out ways to expedite and look towards the future for solar or renewable energy development at a more regional scale.” Walston said.

The Argonne ecologist further explained that the conference is important because it allows them to get new perspectives from other alternative energy interested parties and network with local municipalities.

“The conference will be able to help local decision makers in the Bi-State area understand some current issues and where the future may be going, also the obstacles and opportunities of solar development, and the ability to network with people in the field (alternative energy industry),” Walston stated.

The speakers did not just include alternative energy companies however. The non-profit Environmental Law and Policy Center also presented, advocating for the benefits of solar energy to the decision makers attending the conference.

Among the listening crowd for the presentations, was a local decision making-group called Region 1 Planning Council. Based out of Rockford, IL, the group is a regional government agency that does collaborative planning in Northern Illinois.

Research Associate, Ivy Hood, represented the Council at the event and was there to hear about how the use of alternative energy could benefit communities.

“The goal is to bring back new and inspiring ways for communities to learn about alternative energy and help make new updates to our policies,” Hood said.

The Bi-State Alternative Energy Conference is an important event overall for the alternative energy industry, local decision makers, environmental groups, and every community of the Bi-State area. Argonne National Laboratory, The Environmental Law and Policy Center, and the other companies that presented at the Conference are paving the way for solar energy and better, healthier environmental practices in local communities.

Caption: Nick Hylla talks about the importance of SOLSMART in neighborhoods at the Bi-State Alternative Conference held on Mar. 5. Photo by Christina Rossetti.