Previous Events

Climate Action 101: What Cities and Counties Can Do

Friday, May 10, 2024

Presenter: Abby Finis, Principal at Local Climate Solutions

The video is here.

Abby's presentation is here.

Abby consults on climate solutions with state, county and local governments. She has deep experience in energy and climate research and analysis, stakeholder facilitation, state and local regulatory authorities and program implementation.

Abby co-hosts a podcast, City Climate Corner, that focuses on climate action in small and mid-sized cities. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Minneapolis Climate Equity Plan and was previously a co-chair of the Minneapolis Energy Vision Advisory Board. In 2018, Abby was recognized as 40 Under 40 award recipient from Midwest Energy News. She holds a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon.

The Morris Model

Friday, April 12, 2024

Presenter: Griffin Peck, Sustainability Project Coordinator for the City of Morris, Minnesota, and Morris Model Coordinator

Video of Zoom is here. The chat is here.

Griffin's presentation is here.

Griffin Peck is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Morris. During their time at Morris they worked closely under Troy Goodnough, the Director of Sustainability at the Morris Campus, collecting electrical and thermal energy data for the school and benchmarking the data for future uses. 

Griffin works on sustainability projects for the City of Morris, The Morris Model and Stevens County, including compiling a greenhouse gas emissions inventory of the City's operations. The goal of the inventory is to understand the impacts of city operations and to explore options for Morris becoming a Net Zero Carbon City.

Sustainable, Resilient Rochester

Friday, March 8, 2024

Presenter: Lauren Jensen, Energy & Sustainability Manager, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency

Video of Zoom is here. The chat is here.

Lauren's presentation is here.

Lauren discussed Rochester’s path to becoming a more sustainable, resilient community, from the adoption of greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals to the plans and projects to achieve them. Building decarbonization, transportation electrification and mixed-use development are the key areas for the city to significantly reduce communitywide emissions. Lauren shared an overview of projects in Rochester, with a specific focus on the city’s efforts to electrify its municipal buildings and develop a downtown district energy system.

Lauren Jensen has spent the past seven years in the field of sustainability with experience in both the nonprofit and local government sectors. Prior to joining Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC), Lauren was the Sustainability Coordinator with the City of Rochester. She has also worked with an urban forestry nonprofit in California, developed community education on stormwater management in Winona County, and managed a campaign for Clean Water Action Minnesota on sustainable food systems.

What’s in Store for Minnesota Climate and Weather in the Decades Ahead

February 9, 2024

Presenter: Dr. Suzanna Clark of the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership

Video of Dr. Clark's presentation

Chat from the presentation

Dr. Suzanna Clark is a Climate Resilience Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP). She holds a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to joining MCAP, she lived and worked in a variety of places, from Southern California to Germany to New England, and researched topics including harmful algal blooms (a.k.a. "Red Tides"), renewable energy and climate change.

The successes and failures of COP28, plus projections for Minnesota climate and energy policy in 2024

 January 12, 2024

Presenter: J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy

Video of presentation

Ms. Hamilton is the Senior Director of Science Policy at Fresh Energy and attended COP28 in Dubai. An expert in climate and energy policy at the state and national levels, her responsibilities include scientific analysis and policy development of clean energy solutions to global warming that will maximize economic opportunities.

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.)

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, 2022

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"