SCSC Hosts the Minnesota Clean Energy Council January Forum

Senator Nick Frentz and Virginia Rutter from Nokomis Partners were guest speakers at the Jan. 10 Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council forum hosted by South Central Service Cooperative. Frentz serves as co-chair on the Governor’s advisory council on clean energy and climate. Both the climate change subcabinet and advisory council on climate build on existing inter-agency collaboration to take bold and innovative actions that are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get back on track to reach 100% reliance on clean energy by 2050. Rutter provided a developer’s perspective on solar power and on how local energy solutions will play a role in the energy transition.

The state’s Next Generation Energy Act set statutory goals in 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Minnesota has fallen short. The subcabinet is tasked with identifying policies and strategies to put Minnesota back on track to meet or exceed the goals, identify the challenges and opportunities to mitigate climate change, and create a public engagement framework to provide a platform for dialogue about climate change mitigation and resilience solutions. These include:

  • Pursuing 100% clean power legislation that will require utilities to use carbon-free energy sources by 2050.
  • Expanding our state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure to build off the progress begun using the Volkswagen settlement funds.
  • Using MPCA’s new phase of the Volkswagen settlement to accelerate the electrification of some of the dirtiest vehicles in the transportation sector including school buses, and build more than 2,400 new miles of electric vehicle infrastructure, including 90% in greater Minnesota.

Participants in the forum discussed some of the challenges in local energy production and the success of work already begun in transportation, solar and capital improvements in infrastructure in south central Minnesota. Leadership from higher education in our area is really taking the lead in local energy solutions. The School Sisters of Notre Dame, for instance, have already begun to see a real impact on the bottom line and a return on their investment in solar and energy optimization. Energy optimization plays a critical role in facility planning for the 21st century.

 “I work with cooperative members such as K­–12 school districts, cities and counties to help plan, build and operate their facilities for the 21st century. Buildings account for roughly 40% of the world’s energy consumption,” said Karen Klein, ICS cooperative accounts manager. “Moving the needle toward 100% clean energy by 2050 is attainable in Minnesota through bold innovation, partnership and customized planning.”

The Feb. 14 forum will focus on “rural energy issues in Minnesota.” Presenter Erik Hatlestad, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) and the Local Energy Project, will address strategies that affect climate, energy, environmental justice and other systemic challenges facing our communities and rural residents. The Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council events are free and open to the public. For more information on the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council, contact Briana Baker at brianalbaker@gmail.com or Leigh Pomeroy at leighp@red-jacket.com.

For 21st century facility planning, building and energy optimization assistance, contact Karen Klein at karen.klein@ics-builds.com or 651-728-1880.