• Steve Eberly

Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit with Renewables at the Fair

It’s State Fair time! After a year’s absence, what a joy to be back. The State Fair has always embodied progress, the next big thing, and new technology. At the fair, you see the best of Indiana how we are not just rising to the challenge of the future but leading the way. This year, I’m pleased that we can highlight renewable energy as the “next big thing” that is going to help Indiana prosper and grow.

Want to see for yourself? Hoosiers for Renewables is the coordinator for the “Indiana Solar Display at the State Fair.” The exhibit includes educational displays on the benefits of solar, how panels work and fit into the grid, and boasts a life-size solar panel array. The display is staffed by officials representing the solar energy community and all of this will be taking place at the Normandy Barn on the north side of the Fairgrounds.

The fair conjures up a lot of fond memories from my life on our Hoosier Homestead Farm. Growing up, I visited the Pioneer Village many times. I always remember Dad’s stories about farming with horses. What a time that was! The Indiana Solar Display location near the Pioneer Village area of the Fair is like a homecoming to me. I can easily draw so many parallels to what must have been passionate conversations as generations of Hoosiers walked the State Fair and were introduced to change and innovation that would soon shape, and improve, their lives.

Today, solar and wind are that next innovation for the farm -- a natural next opportunity for farmers to use their land in productive new ways. The comparison is so completely apt to how we initially resisted innovation and technology all those years ago, and I can remember some of the conversations as we thought about change: “When the horses are gone, think about the noise!” “Did you ever see a steam engine blow up?” “How is that corn shelling crew going to find work to support their families now that a combine does it?”

Despite the concerns springing from change, we moved forward. We see the same today, with all of the rhetoric and passion being devoted to preventing the logical progression towards renewable energy. But once again innovation and opportunities for farmers can have transformational impact upon residents of rural Indiana. Renewable energy projects bring new economic opportunities to rural areas and improvements, including access to broadband. Other opportunities include tax moderation, increase in assessed valuation, all which creates flexibility for funding county services - roads, education, fire safety and much more… and with no new demands on local infrastructure. This is all made possible by the private companies bringing forth renewable energy projects.

So, come to the fair. See for yourself. Stop by the Indiana Solar Display and learn why we should support renewable energy as the future for rural Indiana, and how it can help Indiana continue to be a land of vibrant opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

Stop by and see our exhibit in the Normandy Barn, which demonstrates how solar generation works. Outside the barn, check out a life-size solar panel array.