36 Lyn Refuel Station in Minneapolis saves big with LED lighting improvements

The Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) is spearheading a statewide campaign,Light Up Your Station & Save, to help convenience stores reduce energy and maintenance costs and improve their businesses with LED lighting. We spoke with Lonnie McQuirter, owner of the 36 Lyn Refuel Station at 36th Street & Lyndale Avenue in south Minneapolis.  Joel Haskard: Why did you decide to upgrade your canopy lights to LEDs?We have been familiar with LED technology for some time. However, price and financial incentives as well as the long-term reliability of LED lights became clear to us a couple years ago (2013). I was tired of pulling out our 24-foot ladder in the brisk winters to change out our old metal halide bulbs. The ballasts, which use even more energy beyond the bulb itself, also were a pain to deal with.Joel Haskard: Have you seen a reduction in your energy bills?Lonnie McQuirter: We have seen a significant reduction in our energy bills, despite us using our current lights for longer periods than we had with the old metal halide bulbs. Continue Reading


‘We can’t do this without you!’ Mayor Hodges sets her agenda in State of the City address

“One Minneapolis” was the central theme in Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’s State of the City Address on April 2, at the American Swedish Institute, where she discussed how the community working together can address challenges the city of Minneapolis is currently facing.“The genius we have now, right here, will make us the great city of the 21st century if we are willing to do what it takes to make sure we leave none of that genius on the table,” Hodges said.In her second State of the City Address, Hodges made a call-to-action to encourage community leaders to become graduation coaches for young men. She wants to narrow the gap between low-income and middle class families through collective bargaining in the private sector. She wants to raise the minimum wage and launch the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge, which will provide steps and tips as to how citizens in Minneapolis can help stop climate change.“Minneapolis, the question before us now is how much genius are we going to leave on the table?” Hodges asked.Hodges set her sights on early education, bridging the divide when it comes to income inequality and addresses climate change.Education In order to efficiently use the genius of people in the community, Hodges said it starts when a child in the community is young. When it comes to youth development, Hodges cited the fact that 80% of a person’s brain is developed by the age of 3.“What we do for our kids early on matters,” Hodges said.The city will budget $1 million for housing so many children who are low-income, could have stable living conditions. She said the focus on child development is to make sure they are ready for the workforce; however, she also wants them to be engaged in their community.“We need our kids to be more than workforce ready, we needs kids who are ready to build one Minneapolis. Continue Reading


In the sugar maple grove, things are sweeter than ever

Sugarbushing begins in February when the snow is still on the ground and the sap in the sugar maple trees begins to rise. At the the Wozupi Tribal Gardens’ grove in Prior Lake, that still means it’s time to get to work. But, it no longer means pulling out the metal taps, the stainless steel buckets and the kettles.“Buckets are for hobbyists,” said Rebecca Yoshino, the director of the Wozupi Tribal Gardens and the maple syrup operation for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. “The bucket system is very labor intensive. You had to put the buckets up and take them down every year. Continue Reading

Photo: Coal piled up at the Sherco coal-fired power plant near Becker. Via Pioneer Press

MN House Coal Caucus votes to keep bill about air pollution away from environment committee

It’s the sort of post-moronic (and moneyed) politics Bluestem has come to expect from Speaker Daudt’s majority, foreshadowed by the leader’s removal of “Energy” from the Environmental and Natural Resources committee to team it up with “Jobs.”In Tuesday’s floor session, Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources minority lead Rick Hansen ( DFL-South St. Paul) moved to have HF333 pulled from the House Ways and Means Committee and sent to the Environment Committee.HF333, a bill that would require legislative approval of a state plan to comply with federal regulations regarding emissions from existing power plants, would be paid for by the state’s environmental fund. Implementing the lanuage would be be part of work of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The “federal regulations” about air emissions is part of the implementation of the federal Clean Air Act.Hansen also noted that plans for regulating power plant emissions are part of addressing climate change, another concern tasked to the Environment Committee.In short, this bill has everything to do with environmental policy and funding. Bill author, Becker Republican Jim Newberger, opposed Hansen’s motion–prompting a remarkable line of questioning from Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley).Newberger: . Continue Reading

Per capita emissions in Paris are nearly four times lower than per capita emissions in Minneapolis. CC/Flickr/R/DV/RS.

For lasting climate-change reform, focus on consumption

Last month, MinnPost’s Ron Meador outlined climate change’s likely impact on Minnesota over the course of the coming century. Meador’s article, and the study to which it referred, adds a sobering close-to-home detail to our collective knowledge about the risks associated with climate change.Meador’s article, and others like it, should spur us to action. To date, governments and others at national and local levels have offered a variety of fix-it plans. These plans include increasing efficiency standards of cars, moving to renewable energy sources, designing carbon capture models, geoengineering, and implementation of new “green” construction standards, among other related suggestions.Markedly absent in mainstream conversations are suggestions that Americans simply consume less. Ideas that do circulate about lifestyle change tend to be either “back to the land” proposals or framed in the language of “giving people options”: bicycle lanes give people the option to get out of their cars; condos provide snazzy options for young people and empty nesters. Continue Reading