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.
The video of the presentation is at: https://socrates.zoom.us/rec/share/hGY7q0dDP5wvCfTOwcb7J2k6tcned9T8Irw9JkOvKNRjnuRCRahp7v_-wz5UDA_g.TcvXk6EN-s-et5zi — Passcode: KZ=V0EqQ
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. The first demonstration cohort application opens on October 4. More information at gridcatalyst.org.
Energy and agriculture from a banker's perspective
Friday, September 10, 2021
The presentation in PDF is here.
The forum recording is here. Use passcode: p$Zg9*=S
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 here: "Forum highlights clash over electric vehicles, solar"
The forum recording is available at:
The League of Women Voters tackles climate change
Friday, July 9, 2021
The presentation recording is here.
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
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 www.blueearthcountymn.gov/ww.
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
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
Presenters: Chris Meyer, Southeast CERTs Coordinator, and Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director for the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
The recording is below. Note that the first few minutes are missing due to a technical error.
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
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)
The forum recording can be accessed at:
Access Passcode: S^xR46%J
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.
Energy Programs at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Friday, December 11, 2020
A conversation with Jessica Beyer, President and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth
Check out this YouTube site for Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart videos.
Ms. Beyer has been with Greater Mankato Growth since November 2019 when she was appointed as President & Chief Executive Officer. Most recently, she served as Waseca County administrator.
An Update on Energy Issues in the Minnesota Legislature
Friday, November 13, 2020
Presenter: Minnesota State Sen. Nick Frentz
Sen. Frentz is the Assistant Minority Leader in the Minnesota Senate and Chair the Senate DFL Clean Energy & Climate Change Caucus. He is a longtime attorney in the greater Mankato area and holds a B.A. from Macalester College and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.
Friday, October 9, 2020
Presenter: Clay Norrbom, Managing Director for Juhl Clean Energy Assets
Clay Norrbom is the Managing Director for Juhl Clean Energy Assets. Juhl Energy has been involved in the wind power industry for more than 35 years and has extensive experience in the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of wind.
Access Passcode: 0a3Wm#p*
The Nature Conservancy's Program on Green energy
Friday, September 11, 2020
Michael Fuhr and Sachi Graber of the Nature Conservancy presented on the recently completed Clean and Green Pathways for the Global Renewable Energy Buildout report. Topics included planning and procurement, siting and design, incentives for renewable energy on brownfield sites, corporate adoption of renewable energy, and financing renewable energy.
View video. Passcode (if needed): iV8Wj&Xp
City of Mankato Sustainability Program
Friday, August 14, 2020
Rick Baird, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Mankato, will present on his work as a "water sleuth", tracking and finding water leaks and pollution in the wastewater system. He will also discuss future plans of the city toward reducing energy use, moving towards renewable energy sourcing, and working to provide access to renewable energy for low income households.
You can view it here:
Friday, July 10, 2020
The Zoom video recording is here. Password: 9K?Qh585. The actual meeting starts at 1 minute.
Presenters: Deb Groebner, Southern YES! Coordinator, and Mankato West High School YES! Team
YES! is a unique youth program that develops youth leaders while inspiring widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies, waste, and energy conservation best practices, local foods, habitat restorations, and water quality and conservation improvement projects. Deb Groebner, Southern YES! Coordinator, will share about the YES! mission and local teams and Eric Koser and a Mankato West student will share an update on the CERTs Seed Grant awarded to the Mankato West YES! team to update lighting at the school.
What is SolSmart and how can cities and counties benefit?
Friday, March 13, 2020
Presenter: Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA — Program Director, Great Plains Institute
SolSmart recognizes cities, counties, and regional organizations for making it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. A national team of experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities become "open for solar business."
Rural Energy Issues in Minnesota
Friday, February 14, 2020
CURE’s Energy Democracy Program is uniquely focused on strategies to impact climate, energy, and environmental justice decisions affecting rural residents. Energy Democracy is about building power to address linkages between environmental challenges, inequities, and other systemic challenges facing our communities.
Referenced in Erik's presentation:
What's coming up on energy issues in the 2020 Minnesota legislative session
Friday, January 10, 2020
Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL, Mankato)
Virginia Rutter, Nokomis Partners — A developer's perspective on how local energy solutions will play a role in the energy transition. Ms. Rutter will discuss Nokomis's take on the opportunities for small and large utilities to capture the benefits of locally sited generation. Her presentation is here.
KEYC news coverage here.
What's next for energy storage and electric vehicles?
Friday, December 13, 2019
Presenter: Alan Wernke, DataInsights
Alan Wernke is a longtime electric vehicle advocate and Tesla owner. His latest passion and interest is battery technologies.
Professionally, Wernke is an internationally experienced Information Management Technology executive and entrepreneur, with 30+ years of business and technology experience. He specializes in growing businesses, especially in the business intelligence, custom software development, professional services outsourcing and analytics realms.
His vertical experience spans energy (solar and clean tech., retail (Target Stores), software (Microsoft), healthcare (payer, provider and device) and social media (started and sold two Internet companies).
Consumer energy advocacy: towards affordable clean energy
Friday, November 8, 2019
Presenter: Carmen Carruthers, Outreach Director, Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota is a nonprofit advocate for Minnesota’s utility consumers. CUB Minnesota advocates for affordable and reliable utility service and clean energy for Minnesota residents and small businesses.
CUB is committed to reducing the costs and environmental impacts of energy for the people of Minnesota by improving public policy, educating consumers about energy options, and offering personalized guidance on how to lower electricity and natural gas bills. Using extensive knowledge of Minnesota regulations and laws, it is dedicated to protecting consumers, supporting the stewardship of our natural resources, and holding utility companies accountable.
Friday, October 11, 2019
On average, low-income households must spend about a fifth of their total income on energy-related expenses, straining already tight budgets. Since 2000, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) has been providing solar energy assistance to low-income families and communities as a sustainable solution to energy poverty.
Vicki O'Day — Vicki O’Day's early career spanned twenty years in the financial services industry where she helped people invest for their futures then later focused on development of new products and services. She’s an active advocate for advancing the clean energy economy and transforming money consciousness. At RREAL, Vicki is the Development Director, she manages the CS4CA program and works with community development leaders in creating strategies and social impact finance mechanisms to build resilient futures that mitigate energy poverty and combat climate change.
Expanding Electric Vehicle (EV) Opportunities in Minnesota
Friday, September 20, 2019
NOTE: This forum is in conjunction with ReCharge Mankato, Saturday, September 21, 10 AM – 1 PM, Meyers Fieldhouse, Minnesota State University, Mankato. It is free and open to the public.
Kirk Brown, Recharge America — Recharge America has worked with Mankato community leaders to plan the 2018 and 2019 Recharge Mankato events. Recharge America works to keep energy dollars local by supporting community-based EV promotion and recognition campaigns aimed at capturing for local communities the economic benefits resulting from the rapid adoption of EVs.
Jukka Kukkonen, Fresh Energy and PlugInConnect — Jukka Kukkonen is an automotive engineer by training and worked as a technical trainer and area manager for Ford in Europe. In 2010 he founded PlugInConnect to focus on transportation electrification. Jukka has deep knowledge of the electric vehicle market and he specializes in market dynamics and real-life user perspectives. He has built programs for utility companies, condominium and apartment building charging, workplace charging, DC fast charging, outreach and education and smart grid integration. In 2012 he started the MN EV Owners group, which has become one of the largest and most active regional plug-in vehicle owner groups in the nation.
Learn about Seed Grants to Catalyze Community Clean Energy
Friday, August 9th, 2019
Chris Meyer - Southeast CERTs
Netty Fiedler - Southwest CERTs
Jacob Selseth - West Central CERTs
Update on clean energy in Minnesota
Friday, July 12, 2019
Presenter: Joe Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources
Joseph Sullivan is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. In this role, Joe leads the Division and supervises the Minnesota State Energy Office and the Energy Planning and Advocacy unit.
Prior to coming to Commerce, Joe was the Manager of Legislative and External Affairs for the Center for Energy and Environment where he worked with policy makers, regulators, utilities, energy advocates, and other key stakeholders to advance energy efficiency and clean energy policy in Minnesota.
Plus: An update on the Volkswagen Settlement grants
Craig McDonnell, MPCA Assistant Commissioner on Air and Climate Policy
Rebecca Place, MPCA Electric Vehicle Program Coordinator
Recent developments in energy and agriculture (part 2): Ethanol
June 14, 2019
How does ethanol production and use fit in with the energy, economic and environmental goals of southcentral Minnesota?
Tim Rudnicki, Executive Director, Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. The presentation is here.
Paul Gorman, Agriculture Consultant, ELCEL Solutions; Professor Emeritus, South Central College, Minnesota
Local ethanol in terms of climate and the economy. A presentation to the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council by Tim Rudnicki of Minnesota Bio-fuels Association on June 14, 2019. See also: Minnesota Bio-fuels Association Resources.
Designing energy-efficient buildings
The PDF of the presentation is here.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Presenters: Ben Juhnke of ISG, a Mankato based design and engineering firm operating in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, and Paul Trieu of Sustainable 9, an eco-friendly custom home builder based in the Twin Cities
Ben Juhnke, P.E., is a mechanical engineer focused on central utilities and distribution infrastructure projects. He has experience in combined heat and power, district energy, geothermal, thermal energy storage and hydropower. He works for ISG, a full-service engineering and architecture firm with eight offices across the Upper Midwest and is a 2013 graduate of Iowa State University.
Paul Trieu has worked in product design, commercial HVAC and plumbing consulting, PV solar and homebuilding. He runs Counter Entropy, a holistic design approach consulting group, and works for Sustainable 9, an environmentally conscious residential Design + Build firm in Minneapolis. He received a Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) from Milkwood Permaculture in Australia in 2017 and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University in 2012.
Xcel Energy’s long-term plan to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050
March 8, 2019
Bria Shea, Director of Regulatory and Strategic Analysis for Xcel Energy, will present on Xcel Energy’s long term resource plans and strategy to cut its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and ultimately deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. Shea’s presentation will address Xcel Energy’s current resource/power supply mix, how Xcel Energy plans their system for the future, and how individuals can get involved in the process.
For more information, see "Leading the Clean Energy Transition: Our bold vision for 2030 and 2050".
See also Xcel Energy's Carbon Report.
Bria Shea's presentation is here.
Recent developments in energy and agriculture (part 1): Biodiesel
February 8, 2019
Corn and soybeans, so important to the economy, are used for more than animal feed and human consumption. This Southcentral Clean Energy Council forum will address soy as a component of diesel fuel and how it promotes a cleaner environment.
Mike Youngerberg, Senior Director of Product Development and Commercialization with Minnesota Soybean Growers and Executive Director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council. In 2018, he received the National Biodiesel Board Impact Award.
Kevin Hennessy, Biofuels Specialist, Division of Agricultural Marketing and Development, Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Dr. Gregg Johnson, Agronomist, University of Minnesota, Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca.
The South Central Minnesota Clean Energy Council promotes the understanding of renewable energy, energy conservation and energy sustainability.
From a presentation by Mike Youngerberg of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association to the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council on February 8, 2019.
From a presentation by Dr. Gregg Johnson of the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca to the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council on February 8, 2019.
From a presentation by Kevin Hennessy, Bioenergy Manager for Agricultural Marketing and Development, to the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council on February 8, 2019.
What to expect on energy issues from the 2019 Minnesota legislative session
Friday, January 11, 2019
Sen. Nick Frentz, Mankato
Rep. Jeff Brand, St. Peter
Rep. Jack Considine, Mankato
Mankato Free Press: Renewable energy on a crowded agenda at Capitol
Financing clean energy projects in southern Minnesota
Friday, December 14, 2018
Presenter: Peter Lindstrom, Manager, Public Sector & Community Engagement, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs)
Peter Lindstrom will discuss financing clean energy projects with a particular focus on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). He will highlight how businesses in Southern Minnesota are utilizing this tool to accomplish energy efficiency and renewable projects. He will also discuss how businesses and nonprofits can receive free energy assessments, tools to find the right contractor, and financial incentives to help get the project off the ground.
Peter Lindstrom is the public sector & community engagement manager for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. In this role, Peter is responsible for empowering communities to adopt energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and practices.
Peter has 20 years of experience working on public policy, particularly in the science and technology area. He served as an assistant director at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and vice president of public affairs at the Minnesota High Tech Association. He is also Mayor of Falcon Heights.
What Minnesota Can Learn From Germany on Energy Policy - Free Luncheon Forum
Friday, December 14, 2018
South Central College - Heritage Hall, 1920 Lee Blvd, North Mankato, MN 56003
Southern Minnesota is an emerging leader in renewable energy. Over the past several years, legislative leaders from across the region have connected with business leaders, farmers, and city leaders in Germany to learn how the transition to renewable energy produces a clean energy future and new economic opportunities.
Presented by Greater Mankato Growth
Great River Energy’s 50% x 2030 Renewable Energy Goal
Mark Rathbun, Great River Energy
The fact sheet is here.
Friday, Nov. 9, 2018
In May 2018, Great River Energy adopted a corporate goal to achieve 50 percent renewable energy for its 20 all-requirements member-owner cooperatives by 2030. Great River Energy had already met Minnesota’s 25 percent renewable energy standard in 2017, eight years ahead of the requirement. The goal establishes interim goals of 30 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025.
Evolving its power supply portfolio by delivering even more renewable energy to its member-owner cooperatives will help them remain competitive in a changing market. Great River Energy has spent more than a decade positioning its portfolio, lowering costs and reducing dependence on coal as a fuel source while improving the overall flexibility of its generation portfolio. These measures have resulted in a 35 percent reduction in Great River Energy’s carbon dioxide emissions since 2005.
Minnesota's Electric System in Transition
Friday, October 12, 2018
Joe Sullivan is Manager of Strategic Relations for the Center for Energy and Environment. He works with policy makers, regulators, utilities, energy advocates, and other key stakeholders to advance energy efficiency and clean energy in Minnesota. Prior to joining CEE, Joe was the Regional Policy Manager – West for Wind on the Wires (WOW). Before that, he spent six and a half years representing a municipal power agency and greater Minnesota cities as a senior attorney at Flaherty & Hood P.A. in St. Paul, Minn. He will speak on energy changes in Minnesota.
Joe Sullivan's presentation: "Minnesota's Electric System in Transition".
Rural renewable energy systems in Africa, India and Indonesia
Friday, October 12, 2018
Jim Dontje is Director of the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation at Gustavus Adolphus College where he helps guide campus sustainability and renewable energy efforts. His undergraduate degree from Luther College in Decatur, Iowa, was in physics, and his graduate work was at the University of Minnesota in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. He will speak on his recent experience in Africa and India on how those areas are developing decentralized renewable energy systems.
Environmental Stewardship in Mankato: Renewable energy, energy efficiency and water quality
Friday, September 14, 2018
Presenter: Alison Zelms, Deputy City Manager of Mankato
NOTE: The summary of this presentation is on the City of Mankato website under "Energy Efficiency and Environmental Stewardship in Mankato".
The City of Mankato has made significant investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and water quality in the last ten years. This presentation will focus on the city’s key initiatives, including being an anchor subscriber in a number of solar gardens, partnering with the energy service company Ameresco on a guaranteed energy savings program for city operations, and making energy improvements to the city’s water resource recovery facilities. Ms. Zelms will review the status of energy investment in Mankato and discuss the ongoing challenge of balancing community investments in a way that addresses needs, controls costs and assures the community’s vitality for years to come.