Student forum to discuss renewable energy issues

Student organization EcoWatch will host the forum featuring professional speakers.

Nikki Wee

First-year biology student Dipali Patel shudders every time she fills her gas tank.

“The gas prices are horrible,” she said. “They’re way too high.”

Patel isn’t the only student feeling this way, which is why a student group will hold an educational forum on renewable energy tonight.

EcoWatch, a student organization that works to promote environmental awareness and causes, is having the forum, Renewed Perspectives: Renewable Energy Forum 2005.

“Energy is going to be a huge issue. Oil is running out,” said EcoWatch officer Nick Bengtson. “You see it in the news every day. It’s really making its way into the radar.”

The forum will bring in professional speakers from the surrounding area.

Speakers from Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, Xcel Energy and United Steelworkers of America will be there.

Presenters will discuss their respective organization’s role in promoting renewable energy and the push for a renewable energy standard.

“It’s an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap between professionals and students and the general public,” said Bengtson, an environment and natural resources senior.

The forum will also look at the benefits renewable energy would offer to students in particular.

IREE director Dick Hemmingsen said economic and environmental reasons make renewable energy an important topic today.

“I encourage young people to push for a different future,” Hemmingsen said. “I think citizens of all descriptions can make a difference.”

Students have an additional reason to pay attention to the issue ” potential employment opportunities.

Increasing the amount of renewable energy used in the state would create more than 5,000 jobs in manufacturing and maintenance, mostly from wind turbines.

“We’re trying to show that it’s a win-win issue for everyone involved,” Bengtson said.

From technology to the environment and economics, Bengtson said, the event will be of relevance to students with different academic interests.

“It’s a multidisciplinary issue,” he said.

But Patel said the process of replacing current forms of energy with renewable energy will be long and hard, and won’t be something that happens immediately.

“It’s going to take a lot of time and money,” she said.

Patel said renewable resources will be very helpful in the future, especially when it comes to fueling her car.