Previous Events

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Options – Hand in Hand

November 10, 2023

Presenter: Tanuj Gulati, Director, Frontier Energy

Video of presentation 

Frontier Energy is a professional services firm delivering energy efficiency, market transformation, and transportation solutions through technical consulting, program development and implementation, and technology development. Frontier works with governments, regulators and stakeholders to achieve consensus for program objectives and design. Clients include major utilities like Xcel and CenterPoint, community choice energy providers and regional energy networks.

Energy Leadership Stories from Red Wing

Friday, October 13, 2023

Presenter: Rich Huelskamp, Member and Former Chair, Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council

Video of the presentation

Red Wing features a fantastic natural environment in which citizens can play, work and live. They recognize its value and work hard to preserve it. The City Council has been very supportive in accomplishing this goal with onsite solar installations and purchases of renewable energy. The School District has followed suit, making their buildings more energy efficient and leasing property for community solar, helping its budget bottom line. Red Wing also works with Xcel Energy in its Partners in Energy (PIE) program. 

The Business Case for Solar

Friday, September 8, 2023

Presenter: Ian McDonald, a Hutchinson, MN, commercial real estate developer, mortgage banker and principal of Wildflower Properties, LLC. 

PDF of Ian's presentation

Video of Ian's presentation

McDonald has seen a 14% ROI by adding solar rooftops to his real estate portfolio. He is installing his seventh business solar system this year. He has 26 years in residential mortgage banking and 20 years as a commercial property investor, landlord and owner with a primary focus on industrial use real estate.

What an electric cooperative is, and BENCO’s part in Minnesota’s 100% clean electricity by 2040 goal

Friday, August 11, 2023

Presenter: Dave Sunderman, CEO of BENCO, a rural energy cooperative in southern Minnesota, and former member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Climate Change

PDF of Dave's presentation

Video of Dave's presentation

Dave Sunderman has been at BENCO Electric Cooperative since 1992, and recently served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change, which provided input to Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework

What’s ahead for State and Federal Clean Energy Opportunities and where is the Energy Development Team at the Minnesota Department of Commerce plugging in to help?

Friday, July 14, 2023

Presenter: Lissa Pawlisch, Director of the Energy Development Section, Minnesota Department of Commerce

PDF of Lissa's presentation

Video of Lissa's presentation

Lissa Pawlisch serves as the Energy Development Section Director at the MN Department of Commerce. Lissa’s team includes the Emerging Energy Technologies, Energy Market Transformation, and Energy Environmental Review and Analysis teams. Together, these teams provide programs, technical assistance, environmental review, and funding for informed clean energy decision making and development.

Sustainable funding opportunities for a cleaner future

Friday, June 9, 2023

Presenter: Beth Kallestad, Principal Sustainability Planner, Office of Sustainability and Public Health, Minnesota Department of Transportation

PDF of Beth's presentation

Video of the presentation (passcode #du+$L14)

Beth joined the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Office of Sustainability & Public Health in June 2022. Her primary project is implementation of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program along with supporting other EV work at MnDOT. She recently served as a Program Coordinator for the City of Northfield helping to develop and implement its Climate Action Plan.

What the Public Utilities Commission does, what it doesn’t do, and what is the future of Minnesota’s energy challenges

Friday, May 12, 2023

Presenter: Joe Sullivan, Vice Chair, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

PDF of Joe's presentation

Video of the presentation — NOTE: The actual presentation starts about 6 minutes in

 Joe Sullivan currently serves as Chair of the MISO Regional Expansion Criteria and Benefits Working Group (RECBWG) and is as a member of the Board of Directors for the Organization of MISO States (OMS). He also serves as a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). (See more here.)

No Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council forum in April

All about electric vehicles with Stephanie Dorman of Recharge America

Friday, March 10, 2023

Stephanie Dorman is the National Program Director for Recharge America. She spoke about the upcoming Mobilizing Minnesota Symposium, sponsored by Recharge Minnesota, to be held at the Centennial Student Union Ballroom at Minnesota State University, Mankato, on Wednesday, March 22, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

There is no recording, but the presentation is here.

A discussion of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 with Sen. Nick Frentz

Friday, February 10, 2023

Sen. Nick Frentz, co-author of the bill to require 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 in Minnesota, addressed the forum, answering questions about the bill and where Minnesota plans to go from here.

The recording is here.

The chat is here.

Rural Communities Leading the Way towards Energy Transition: Observations from the Region Nine December Fact-finding Tour to Germany

Friday, January 13, 2023

The PDF of the presentation is here.

The recording is here. (Please note, due to technical difficulties, the recording doesn't start till about 5 minutes into the presentation.)

The chat is here.

Electric vehicles: How you can benefit by going EV

November 18, 2020

Presenter: Jukka Kukkonen, Clean Transportation Consultant for Fresh Energy

Jukka is the founder of Shift2Electric, a Minnesota-based electric vehicle market and technology consulting firm and he teaches EV Markets and Technology at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He advises on the transition from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric vehicles (EVs) throughout Minnesota.

The recording is here.

A PDF of the presentation is here.

The Inflation Reduction Act: What it's about and what it could mean for you

Friday, October 14, 2022

Presenters: Lissa Pawlisch, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Statewide Director, and Peter Lindstrom, CERTs Manager of Public Sector & Community Engagement

The recording of the presentation is here:

Websites pertinent to the presentation:

CERTs Inflation Reduction Act presentation

The Inflation Reduction Act: what you need to know

Inflation Reduction Act resources

What to expect on energy issues in the 2023 Minnesota legislature

Friday, September 16, 2022

Attending: Rep. Susan Akland, Rep. Luke Frederick, Sen. Nick Frentz (via Zoom), Sen. John Jasinski, Rep. Jeremy Munson, Sen. Dave Senjem (via Zoom)

(No recording available.)

No forum for August 2022

We took a much needed break.

Xcel Energy’s Path to Clean Energy

Friday, July 8,  2022

Presenters: Anna Thill, Southwest Community Relations Manager, Xcel Energy, and Sara Barrow, Carbon-Free Future MN Coalition and Xcel Energy

The recording of the forum is here:

Xcel sites mentioned in Friday's forum:

Save Money and the Environment by Tapping into Electrification Opportunities

Friday, June 10, 2022

Presenters: Josh Quinnell and Rabi Vandergon of the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE)

NOTE: An interview with Josh Quinnell can be heard on KMSU radio's "Every Day Is Earth Day" here.

As electricity becomes increasingly powered by renewable sources, electrification is now a primary climate solution. There are many ways to participate in the journey toward electrification. Join Josh Quinnell and Rabi Vandergon from Center for Energy and Environment to discussed these money saving, environmentally friendly opportunities when considering home upgrades.

Sustainable soil management practices to combat climate change

Friday, May 13, 2022

Presenter: Dr. Mriganka De, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, and head of the Soil and Water Quality Lab at Minnesota State University, Mankato

Agriculture is a huge economic driver in southcentral Minnesota. But are we farming the right way to prevent a warming future?

Minnesota Habitat Friendly Solar Program

Friday, April 8, 2022

Presenter: Paul Erdmann, Buffer and Soil Loss Specialist, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)

The Minnesota Habitat Friendly Solar Program program supports the establishment of habitat for pollinators, songbirds, and other species at solar facilities in Minnesota. In addition to renewable energy and wildlife habitat, these sites can also provide other benefits such as improving water quality and soil health. Support is provided through a combination of technical resources, collaboration with conservation partners and project assessment forms.

Electric vehicles: Are they as cool as people say?

Friday, March 11, 2022

A discussion with Mankato area EV and PHEV owners about their experiences owning plug-in vehicles. Sorry! We were not able to record the event.

Are electric vehicles the answer to transportation access, affordability and equity?

Friday, Feb. 11, 2022

The PDF of the slides is here.

Presenter: Anjali Bains, Fresh Energy Lead Director of Energy Access and Equity

As well as being Fresh Energy's Lead Director of Energy Access and Equity, Ms. Bains is a Clean Energy Leadership Institute fellow.  She is a graduate of Columbia University with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Engineering.

How Do College Students View Their Future in a Warming Climate?

Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

Moderated by Prof. Jeff Jeremiason, Gustavus Adolphus College

Many students have said they are pessimistic about the future because of climate change and the lack of action on this threat by governments and businesses. But is this really true?

Students from Gustavus Adolphus College and Minnesota State University, Mankato, discuss their hopes and fears regarding the climate crisis: what they expect the world of their adult lives to look like; whether they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future; and what part they expect to play in confronting this challenge.

From the Mankato Free Press: "Local college students voice fears, hopes about climate change"

Climate Smart Municipalities: Germany and Minnesota

Friday, Dec. 10, 2021

Presenters: Nicole Griensewic, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission, and Guido Wallraven, technical director for City of Saerbeck, Germany.

Nicole Griensewic, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission, will discuss Climate Smart Municipalities, a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment program that pairs German and Minnesota cities that are dedicated to pursuing cleaner, more sustainable communities with a more efficient energy footprint. Griensewic will also discuss the recent Minnesota delegation’s visit to Germany and her knowledge gained during the visit.

As well as being the technical director for City of Saerbeck, which plans to become climate-neutral by 2030, Guido Wallraven owns the city planning consultancy Stadt-Land-Fluss-Büro für Städtebau und Umweltplanung. The company focuses on energy-efficient city planning, sustainable city development, the use of solar energy in cities, and sustainable master planning.

Clean Energy Financing Tools in the Greater Mankato Area

Friday, November 12, 2021

Presenters: Jim Hasnik, Director of Lending Services, Center for Energy and Environment (CEE); Peter Lindstrom, Manager of Public Sector and Community Engagement, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs); Lou Schwartzkopf, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and member of Mankato Centenary United Methodist Church

Jim Hasnik's presentation is here.

Peter Lindstrom's presentation is here.

Lou Schwartzkopf's presentation is here.

Clean energy, in the form of energy efficiency or renewables, can save businesses and nonprofits money while also creating jobs, stabilizing electric prices, and helping the environment. But lack of financing and the need for up-front capital can be major barriers. Attend this event virtually or in person to learn about revenue neutral and/or cost-effective upgrades, and how to incorporate multiple sources of funding and grants into your project.

Clean energy start-ups in Minnesota

Friday, October 8, 2021

Presenter: Nina Axelson, Founder, Grid Catalyst, a clean energy accelerator deploying solutions for northern climate challenges

Nina's presentation is here.

Nina Axelson is the founder of Grid Catalyst, a Minnesota clean energy accelerator focused on connecting entrepreneurs to project demonstration, mentorship and development, and investments to grow their business. Founded in 2021, Grid Catalyst recruits companies to conduct demonstration projects for technology specifically built for cold weather climates. Grid Catalyst is a program of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM). CEEM is an industry-led nonprofit organization advancing and promoting the transition to a clean energy economy through education, policymaking, and business advocacy. The accelerator program has already recruited 12 organizations to be part of developing and hosting 2022 demonstration projects.

Energy and agriculture from a banker's perspective

Friday, September 10, 2021

The presentation in PDF is here.

For information on solar panel recycling, which was brought up in the discussion, go here.

Presenter: Kent Thiesse, Senior Vice President, MinnStar Bank

Kent Thiesse has over 40 years of experience in farm management and agricultural lending with MinnStar Bank and the U of M Extension Service. He writes a monthly column on agriculture for MN Valley Business. He serves on the Lake Crystal Welcome Memorial School Board, and is active in the Independent Bankers of MN, GreenSeam, SCC Center for Agriculture, MN Farm Bureau, MN Famers Union, MN Agri-Growth Council and Farmfest.

Energy and climate issues in the Minnesota legislature: What happened this year and what's coming up in 2022

Friday, August 6

Panelists: Sen. Nick Frentz, North Mankato; Sen. David Senjem, Rochester; Rep. Luke Frederick, Mankato; Rep. Jeremy Munson, Lake Crystal; Rep. Susan Akland, St. Peter

KEYC video coverage here: "State leaders discuss electric cars, solar at forum"

Mankato Free Press news coverage: "Forum highlights clash over electric vehicles, solar"

The League of Women Voters tackles climate change

Friday, July 9, 2021

Presenter: Michelle Witte, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, on the League's Climate Change Task Force

Michelle Witte is the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota (LWVMN) and a former school board member. Michelle shared how the League of Women Voters has engaged in successful advocacy for over 100 years, and has recently prioritized climate change as a key issue for our democracy. Michelle reviewed the LWV United States Climate Change Tool Kit, LWVMN's  Climate Change Task Force, and discussed how we can harness the power of coalitions and collaboration to save the planet. Michelle also reviewed the Walz Climate Report Card advocacy project, which LWVMN supported this past session.


An introduction to Clean Energy Resource Teams Seed Grants from Southeast CERTs Director Chris Meyer.

Waste and Energy: Where do we go from here?

Friday, June 11, 2021

The presentation PDF is here.

Presenter: Molly Kjellesvig, Recycling / Sustainability Specialist for Blue Earth County

With the rise of renewable energy has come the promise that renewable energy components have a lifespan of 20-30 years. As wind turbine blades and solar panels are reaching the end of their lifespan, many are questioning where do they go now? Are they recycled? Are they put in a landfill? Molly Kjellesvig discusses the waste and recycling processes for renewable energy components, as well as where the future of waste-to-energy is headed. Is waste-to-energy a sustainable option for producing energy and managing waste?

Molly Kjellesvig is the Recycling / Sustainability Specialist at Blue Earth County. She is also the committee head for the Blue Earth County Recycling Education Committee and chairperson for South Eastern Minnesota Recyclers Exchange (SEMREX)

In her role at the County she develops new programs and educates the Blue Earth County community on solid waste, recycling, and sustainability. She works alongside organizations like Mankato Area Zero Waste and the Blue Earth Project to promote a cleaner and greener future for Blue Earth County. During her time at the County, she compiled information on how to properly dispose of nearly 600 items according to the waste hierarchy for residents in a tool called Waste Wizard. You can visit the Waste Wizard tool at

Molly holds an M.S. in Sustainable Management from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Charging Ahead: New Developments in the Battery Industry

Friday, May 14

Presenter: Dr. Simon Clark, coordinator of the HYDRA battery project at SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations. He will be making his presentation from Norway.

Presentation slides: "Trends in Battery industry & Research"

Also from Dr. Clark: "Battery 2030: Inventing the Sustainable Batteries of the Future"

Batteries have become a central part of our daily lives. From the small batteries that power our smart phones and mobile devices to gargantuan batteries that can power an entire city, these devices are a cornerstone of the modern technological landscape. But what actually goes on inside a lithium-ion battery? How have developers managed to reduce the cost of batteries by nearly 90% within the last ten years? And what does the future hold for battery technology in the age of the Gigafactory? In this talk, battery researcher Dr. Simon Clark discusses how the battery industry got to where it is today, what challenges it faces in the coming decade, and what exciting new developments are on the horizon.

Dr. Simon Clark is a research scientist and engineer developing new battery technology. After earning his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech in 2009, he worked as a design simulation consultant to the spaceflight industry. He began developing novel battery chemistries in 2012 and earned his Ph.D. in Computational Electrochemistry in Germany through cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU). Since 2018, he has worked as a research scientist at SINTEF Industry in Trondheim, Norway.

Currently, Dr. Clark coordinates the European research project HYDRA, which seeks to improve both the energy density and sustainability of Li-ion batteries. He leads the development of the Battery Interface Ontology (BattINFO) to support battery digitalization and interoperability of data, and he consults to the Li-ion cell manufacturing industry.

Heat their homes or buy food? Minnesotans shouldn't have to choose

Friday, April 9, 2021

Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Under 5% Campaign and Community Partnerships

Presenters: Chris Meyer, Southeast CERTs Coordinator, and Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director for the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

View the slide presentation.

See also "Reducing energy burden in Greater Minnesota" and "Energy Assistance Program changes made to help during COVID-19".

Sustainability the Swedish way: Transition and development — with a special emphasis on climate and energy

Friday, March 12, 2021

Presenter: Magnus Fredricson, Strategist for Sustainable Development with the Skaraborg Association of Municipalities, Sweden

The presentation is here

What is Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) and how are businesses helping Minnesota become carbon-free?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Presenter: Virginia Rutter, Manager of Community Relations, Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM)

Founded in 2016, Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) provides the business voice for energy efficiency and clean energy in Minnesota. Virginia Rutter leads the organization’s outreach and engagement efforts. 

What is the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and how does it work?

Friday, January 8, 2021

With Joe Sullivan, Vice-chair, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Joe Sullivan has been a repeat presenter to the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council, first as Manager of Strategic Relations for the Center for Energy and Environment and then as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. He was appointed to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by Governor Tim Walz, effective April 6, 2020, and appointed to Vice-chair on May 21, 2020. Joe also serves as a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

The presentation is here.