Me and the MREA

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I just returned from a wild and interesting trip to the annual MREA Energy Fair, Midwest Renewable Energy Association.  The show is in it’s 24th year, with a big anniversary next year.  The show now is sited at the headquarters of the MREA in rural Custer, Wisconsin.  The MREA walks the walk and their facility has a nice array of PV, wind, and solar thermal systems. A gasification wood fired boiler is being added this summer.  The goal is 100% energy independence, and it looks like they are close.  Tours of their RE systems were ongoing throughout the 3 day event.


The show is a collection of outdoor pop-up tents and several horse barns, which they lease from a neighbor,  along with some of his pasture land for parking.  A gaggle of smiling volunteers help the young, entergetic, orange-shirted,  MREA staff “pull off” this event.

The exhibitors cover the gambit from renewable energy manufacturers, designers and installers, a hand full of community colleges, public radio personalities, electric vehicles, and a wide assortment of home and gardening products.

Education is ever-present.  A large group of tents housed learning opportunties for any topic from yoga to straw bale and cordwood building demonstrations. Various local bands filled the air with sweet music throughout the three-day event. The food choices available were unique and tasty.  My favorite:  A hearty, organic egg and hash-browns breakfast platter.

The wild side of the event was brought to us courtesy of mother nature and the weather she delivered.  Strong winds and heavy downpours greeted the show.  It looked like a scene from the “Wizard of Oz” as the show opened Friday morning.  The grounds were dampened but not the spirits of all the staff, exibitors and attendees.

You have kids? Check out this video of Hot Rod discussing the Fair’s allure to kids! —

Put this event at the top of your “must see” list; you will have a nice, relaxing, informative and fun-filled adventure. A big kudos to the staff of the MREA for making this event informative and enjoyable.

Bob “hot rod” Rohr: Hot Rod is the national training and education manager for Caleffi North America. He has been a plumbing, hydronic and solar installer for more than 30 years.

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