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Sailer to hold citizen energy forums

State Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids will be holding a series of citizen's energy forums in Park Rapids, Blackduck and Bagley later this month.

According to Sailer, the forums will be devoted to helping homeowners learn about ways to take advantage of new opportunities to make their homes more energy efficient by utilizing funds passed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"The good news is that there are so many opportunities for people to take advantage of with the federal stimulus dollars that are available," said Sailer. "The challenge is to help people connect with the right resources. I want to offer some practical information about what is available out there, who to talk to and how to reach them, so they can begin to make plans for their own energy future."

A significant portion of the forum will be devoted to talking about how to access rebates for solar, wind, geothermal and other energy improvements. Joining Sailer at the various forums will be representatives from the Office of Energy Security, who will be detailing the various energy provisions in the stimulus bill and other state energy programs. In addition, representatives from local utilities, Community Action Programs (CAPs), the Clean Energy Research Teams (CERT's) and other organizations, including Beltrami Electric, Bi-Cap, Bagley Public Utilities, Clearwater/Polk Electric, Inter-County CAP, Itasca Mantrap, MN Power and Mahube Community Council will be available to answer questions and provide additional information.

In addition to the citizen's forums, Sailer is also hosting a meeting for representatives from business and commercial establishments, as well as schools and other public entities to help them understand what energy efficiency and renewable energy options are available to them.

In discussing the forums, Sailer noted the cost saving potential that comes from weatherization and other energy improvement efforts as well as the economic benefits that accompany them.

"The kind of projects we're talking about - whether it's new windows or weather stripping or insulating a home or other building - create real jobs. If a business or homeowner retrofits their building to increase energy efficiency, skilled workers will be needed to provide the labor, manufacturers and retailers to provide the goods, and truckers to deliver them."

Sailer continued, "We're in the midst of a real change in the way we think about energy and the smartest ways to develop and use it. I'm hopeful these meetings will offer some good information that will not only help people manage their energy costs with a look to future energy security, but will also help put some people to work and strengthen our local economy."

While most of the forums are focused on residential initiatives, each of them are open to anyone with an interest in the issue, including the Friday forum for businesses, schools and commercial entities. For more information, please contact Rep. Sailer's legislative office at 651-296-4265 or 800-920-5867.

Forums will be at the following dates and times:

Wednesday, Aug. 19

Blackduck Citizen Forum, 3 to 5 p.m. Blackduck High School multi purpose room, 156 1st St NE Blackduck, MN 56630.

Bagley Citizen Forum, 7 to 9 p.m. Clearwater County Court House 3rd floor meeting room, 213 Main Avenue N. Bagley, MN 56621

Thursday, Aug. 20

Park Rapids Citizen Forum, 7 to 9 p.m. Hubbard County Courthouse Board Room, 301 Court Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470-1421

Friday, Aug. 21

Commercial, Local Government and Public Buildings Forum, open to all area commercial, business or government entities, 10 a.m. to noon, Hubbard County Courthouse Board Room, 301 Court Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470-1421.