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Annual Energy Fair in Central Wisconsin Generates Excitement in Milwaukee

Susan Bence
Elizabeth Hittman & Peter Murphy at rooftop solar installation atop Escuela Verde located above the Menomonee Valley.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association, or MREA, will officially kick off its 29th annual energy fairin Custer, Wisconsin on Friday.

Three days of how-tos of solar and wind installations as well as sustainable living workshops attract people from around the country.

Milwaukeeans Elizabeth Hittman and Peter Murphy will be among them.

Hittman serves on MREA’s board of directors and by day is sustainability program coordinator in the City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office

Peter Murphy is MREA’s Milwaukee-based solar program manager and says interest in renewable energy is soaring.

Credit Elizabeth Hittman
Escuela Verde student Daniel Rodriguez (right) participated in MREA's solar training academy in Milwaukee; he was then hired to help install the school's rooftop system.

“We’re really poised for an explosion in solar proliferation. Our executive director compared the rise of renewable energy right now, that we’re just at the tipping point of, to national electrification at the beginning of the 1900s,” notes Murphy. “There’s just so much room for growth.”

According the Solar Foundation, solar employment grew 110 percent from 2010 to 2017. That amounts to an increase of approximately 16 percent per year.

“And in the past a lot of that (growth) was happening on the east coast and the west coast, so it’s starting to make its way to the Midwest,” Elizabeth Hittman adds. That means more than installation jobs, “there’s jobs in finance, there’s legal jobs, marketing and PR, project management – all that.”

Credit MREA
MREA's newly-installed 19.4 kW solar canopy system designed to efficiently charge electrical vehicles.

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Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.<br/>