They call him the renewable energy guru. Andy Swapp is the technology teacher at Milford High School. He was recently recognized for his dedication to renewable energy by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch with a congressional tribute. Senator Hatch closed the tribute with the words, "Mr. President, I was really impressed with what I experienced in meeting Andy. I wanted to highlight the important, innovative work of a successful educator engaged in leading our nation into the future."
Andy Swapp talked to UPR's Kerry Bringhurst about the Milford Renewable Energy Fair, which he started in 2009 as a way to help his students "better understand what kinds of energy options are out there."
Beaver County is the location of several wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric projects. "Part of my job is to look at the things that surround the community and get an in-depth knowledge of those things," says Swapp, "Renewable energy is huge here in the valley. We've produced geothermal power for over 30 years. We were one of the first counties in the state to produce hydroelectric power."
The fair is expected to attract 900 people to Milford, but where is Milford? "Head to the middle of nowhere and turn left," Swapp jokes. To be more specific, that's northwest of Cedar City 45 miles, directly west of Beaver, and south of Delta. The middle of nowhere is exactly right for Swapp's interest: "When you're placing a large wind farm or solar farm, a place like Milford with such wide open spaces is ideal."
Swapp is also taking renewable energy education on the road. He has a 16-foot trailer packed full of renewable energy information and equipped with a small "cabin-size" wind turbine. "We'll take it to different schools and show them how they can get started, how viable it is for homes or businesses. People are hesitant to get into renewable energy because they don't know how to start."
The 4th Annual Milford Renewable Energy Fair takes place April 26 at Milford High School, with 40 vendors displaying the latest in renewable energy. The highlight of the fair is an electric vehicle endurance race that pits high school student teams against each other in a battle of engineering, science, and driving skill.