Previous Events

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?

The recording of this forum is here. Use passcode "k%GG12XK".


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 recording of the forum is here. Use passcode: ^Lgn%K1r

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

The video is here.

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.

Plus:

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 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

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.


Energy Programs at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Friday, December 11, 2020

A conversation with Jessica Beyer, President and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth

PLUS: An introduction to the Energy Smart program for businesses with Michael Atkinson, Energy Specialist at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

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.


Juhl Energy

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.

Clay presented on the status of the Juhl Energy Development, Power Engineers Collaborative and the Clean Energy Assets companies.


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.


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.


Friday, July 10, 2020

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

Presenter: Erik Hatlestad, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) and the Local Energy Project

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

Download Alan Wernke's Presentation

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.

Presenter:

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.

Download Jukka Kukkonen's presentation

Presenters:

  • 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 PlugInConnectJukka 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.

Update on clean energy in Minnesota

Friday, July 12, 2019

Presenter: Joe Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources

Presentation is here

Television coverage is here

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: Ethanol

June 14, 2019

How does ethanol production and use fit in with the energy, economic and environmental goals of southcentral Minnesota?

Featured speakers:

  • 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.