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The greening of the Albemarle on display at expo

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Turbines of the Amazon wind farm in Pasquotank County. Wind energy is one of many green technologies and practices that will be on display at the "Green Saves Green" Expo at Museum of the Albemarle on March 24.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The first-ever expo devoted to showcasing the Albemarle as a “model green region” is less than two weeks away.

The “Green Saves Green” Expo is March 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Museum of the Albemarle. It's going to be a big event, with renewable energy businesses, recycling companies, conservation groups and local businesses out in force, based on roughly 60 exhibitors listed by event supporter Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council.

“We've just about got the entire museum filled,” said Expo Chairman Phil Donahue on Friday. Donahue recounted that Richard Good, Nita Coleman, himself and others decided to organize the event after encouragement from the Sierra Club.

In two standout features, the Expo will include offer tours of the Amazon Wind Farm US East northwest of Elizabeth City, and remarks from renewable energy advocate Rep. John Szoka, House Republican conference leader and a Fayetteville resident.

The wind farm tours will run at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., according to the RC&D Council. Participants will take a van to the wind farm and hear from Steve Harris, according to a participant list from Coleman, a project supporter who's leased property to hold some turbines. The RC&D Council also advises a sign-up sheet for the tours will be at the expo, and tour space will be limited.

The wind farm's developer is Avangrid Renewables. Spokesman Paul Copleman wrote in an email the company looks for ways to partner with local communities, and the expo “seemed like a good fit.”

Additionally, Donahue and Szoka's legislative office confirmed he will be speaking at the expo, though the time hasn't been set yet. Szoka was an architect of HB 589, legislation intended to spur solar development in North Carolina. The bill's final version also included a wind energy moratorium against his objections.

In addition to Szoka, other presenters during the expo will include: the Southeast Wind Coalition; a representative of SunEnergy1, who's developed numerous local solar farms; the Citizen's Climate Lobby, who will be discussing carbon fees; Solar Services, a residential solar firm; and Albemarle Hopeline and GreenZone.

Albemarle Hopeline is a six-county nonprofit that supports domestic violence victims. It also runs a thrift store to generate revenue to support its mission, but that store gets a lot of clothes too worn or stained to sell, Hopeline Director Katherine Rogers explained Friday. 

That's how Hopeline came to meet GreenZone, a textile recycling firm in Greensboro. GreenZone can get a “second or third life” out of worn materials, breaking down the fibers to become new clothes, industrial wipes and more, she explained.

GreenZone Vice President Liz Ward added Friday that generating “virgin textiles” takes more resources than recycling them. That means recycled materials are better for the environment and save companies money, she explained.

Ward also said GreenZone will accept donations at the expo of clothes or shoes for recycling.

As to the expo’s various exhibitors, some include: Biggs Cadillac, Hall Ford and Nissan of Elizabeth City, featuring their electric and hybrid cars; George and Co. HVAC, and B&M Contractors, featuring energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment; various conservation groups such as the N.C. Coastal Federation and N.C. Wildlife Federation; and youth groups such as Future Farmers of America and River City Community Development Corporation Youth Build.

In kid-friendly exhibits, the Elizabeth City Fire Department, Pasquotank County Recycling and Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services will also be on hand to show off vehicles.

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