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

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

Support the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership on December 10th

Update: The Minneapolis City Council voted 13-0 on December 10th to restore the full $150,000 for the Clean Energy Partnership into the final 2015 budget.  The City of Minneapolis adopted Goals and Strategic Directions back in March which reads “We sustain resources for future generations by reducing consumption, minimizing waste and using less energy.”This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.Restoring the full funding for the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership in the city budget this Wednesday will be a great step toward that strategic direction goal. City Council took an unexpected 7-6 vote on December 1st to cut the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership budget in half from $150,000 to $75,000, before its board meets for the first time early next year.  Already, hundreds of community members have voiced their support for the Partnership, and called on the Council to restore this cut because they realize the following:Minneapolis residents and businesses spend $450 million annually on electricity and gas, and national research shows that at least 30% of our energy use is preventable waste. This Clean Energy Partnership is a long-term effort to move tens of millions of energy dollars annually back into the pockets of Minneapolis families and businesses, while creating local jobs with a special focus on neighborhoods suffering the worst effects of energy poverty. This Partnership has the potential to transform energy management for Minneapolis energy consumers enough to meet very aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and produce very significant savings to Minneapolis residents and businesses.  These benefits could amount to tens of millions of dollars per year. We don’t want to nickel and dime this work.  Important Opportunity! Take Action!We have a chance to restore funding for this crucial investment in long-term energy prosperity for the city’s residents and businesses! Continue Reading

Churches pick up on sustainability movement

On the first day, there was a meeting.

It was a Citizens for Sustainability meeting in October. Dan Doerrer, associate pastor of Nativity Church, was invited to attend by members of the group. There he connected with Rev. Susan Mullin, director of faith formation for Faith United Methodist Church.

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OPINION | Catholic Worker House confronts local frac sand mining

One day I sat down to write in my journal. I typed the date and then the year— 2914. I looked at the year a couple of times and thought, “That doesn’t look right.” Finally I grasped that it was 900 years from now. Nine hundred years!!! Not just the future, but THE FUTURE. Holy cow! I felt the wonder I always feel when I contemplate primordial, ancient or medieval times—The passing of time. I started wondering about my great-great-great-great, etc. grandchildren. Who would they be? How would people live? Would people pair up into couples or would they form intimate pods of threes and fours? Would there still be races? Would Minneapolis still be here? How much of North America would be under water? Would there have been a nuclear holocaust? It was a strange, mystical experience.

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MN Jobs Coalition received $355,000 from the RSLC; where’d that money trickle down from?

In a report about Minnesota Jobs Coalition chair Ben Golnik’s new job as executive director of the Minnesota House Republican caucus, Minnesota Public Radio’s Catherine Richert reported in Monday’s article, Golnik to direct House Republican Caucus:

Golnik is leaving his post as chairman of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, an independent political group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars ushering in the Republican majority to the Minnesota House. Republicans won in nearly every district the group invested in. . . . Continue Reading

OPINION | Green energy can end African famine

While Ebola occupies the world’s attention, a humanitarian crisis is quickly unfolding in Somalia. In August, the Somali federal government declared famine in several regions.The rain necessary for food arrived a month late and was brief in duration. Drought grips much of the country, leaving nearly three million Somalis at risk for food insecurity. In conflict areas, over a million people remain displaced from their homes. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children could die by the end of the year if no action is taken.The Horn of Africa is considered one of the poorest regions in the world, and ongoing droughts continue to plague this region. Continue Reading

Minneapolis City leaders aim for greener energy with newly approved Xcel and CenterPoint contract

Minneapolis’ top energy providers will collaborate with government leaders to meet the city’s sustainability goals, after a City Council vote on Friday and a multi-year campaign from sustainability activists and University of Minnesota students.Council members approved a contract with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, while also creating a public-private board to pursue the development of renewable energy options for Minneapolis. While some students and city policymakers say the arrangement is a big step forward, some activists say there’s reason for skepticism.The agreement ensures that both companies will provide energy to the city until at least 2020, following a debate over whether to renew the contracts or pursue city-owned options.Related story: Minneapolis and utilities establish unique “Clean Energy Partnership” (Paige Elliott, TC Daily Planet, 2014)The current contract, which expires at the end of the year and gives Xcel and CenterPoint exclusive access to city property and customers, had not been renegotiated since the early 1990s.Minneapolis Energy Options, a local advocacy group that has student members, initially pushed Minneapolis to evaluate municipal energy ownership as an option, in hopes of expanding infrastructure to include locally produced renewable energy.MEO member and environmental science junior Louis Mielke said he’s optimistic that Friday’s vote will move Minneapolis in a more sustainable direction.“It’s cool that it’s a people-driven movement,” he said. “It’s people wanting local, clean, affordable energy, and I think we’re making this happen by having more representation, this partnership with how the city uses energy.”Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon said he would have preferred city-controlled power under different circumstances, but laws around existing infrastructure would make such a proposal difficult and expensive for the city.“What we want is something in between, where the city can invest in power and try some experimental things, and citizens could have more control,” he said. “By having that partnership where we’re all at that the table, I think we have the chance to find that path.”The new agreement will establish a board consisting of the mayor, two council members, the city coordinator and senior officials from both utility companies.But some community members are taking a wait-and-see approach before weighing in on the partnership’s success.Lee Samelson, a community engagement coordinator who worked with MEO beginning early in its campaign, said he was unsure about whether citizens would actually have input in the partnership’s direction.“There’s a danger that it could still create a closed-off bureaucracy,” he said.Samelson said MEO will encourage the board to make energy conservation adjustments around the city, like installing LED streetlights.Several utility executives expressed support at the resolution’s signing.“We look forward to using our experience as an industry leader in delivering clean, affordable energy to help Minneapolis achieve its goal to be a national model for sustainability,” said Dave Sparby, president of Northern States Power Co., in a press release. The company is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy.Related story: Minneapolis and utilities establish unique “Clean Energy Partnership” (Paige Elliott, TC Daily Planet, 2014) Continue Reading

Minneapolis and utilities establish unique “Clean Energy Partnership”

On Oct. 6 a public hearing took place at City Hall to review tentative utility franchise agreements reached between the City of Minneapolis and utility companies Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The agreements, if approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Oct. 17, would set in motion a first-in-the-nation, public-private “Clean Energy Partnership.” Proponents said the partnership between the city and utility companies would aim to meet the city’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make energy more affordable, reliable, efficient and renewable, as laid out in the city’s 2013 Clean Action Plan.Franchise agreements are negotiations to determine conditions in which private utility companies can use public property to provide services in the community. Fees are negotiated and paid by utility companies to the city, in exchange for the use of public right of way, such as streets and alleys.The previous franchise agreements between the City of Minneapolis and utilities were made 20 years ago, and are set to expire at the end of 2014; the agreements mostly covered public right of way issues. Continue Reading