Previous Events

March forum

What is SolSmart and how can cities and counties benefit?

Download the presentation here.

Friday, March 13, 9 to 11 AM

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."

February forum

Rural Energy Issues in Minnesota

Friday, February 14, 9 to 11 AM

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:

January forum

Friday, January 10, 9 to 11 AM

Sen. Nick Frentz — What's coming up on energy issues in the 2020 Minnesota legislative session

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.

December forum

Friday, December 13, 9 to 11 AM

What's next for energy storage and electric vehicles?

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).

November forum

Friday, November 8, 9 to 11 AM

Consumer energy advocacy: towards affordable clean energy

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.

October forum

Friday, October 11, 9 to 11 AM

Download Vicki O'Day's presentation

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.

All Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council events are free and open to the public.

September forum

Friday, September 20, 9 to 11 AM

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

Expanding Electric Vehicle (EV) Opportunities in Minnesota


  • 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.

August forum

Friday, August 9th, 9 to 11 AM

Learn about Seed Grants to Catalyze Community Clean Energy

    • Presenters:
      • Chris Meyer - Southeast CERTs
      • Netty Fiedler - Southwest CERTs
      • Jacob Selseth - West Central CERTs

July forum

Friday, July 12, 9 to 11 AM

Update on clean energy in Minnesota

  • 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

June forum

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?

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.

May forum

Designing energy-efficient buildings

The video of this presentation is here. The actual presentation starts about 13 minutes in.

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.

All Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council monthly forums are free and open to the public.

April forum cancelled due to weather

March forum

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.

February forum

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.

Featured speakers:

  • 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.

January forum

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

Media coverage:

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

Joe Sullivan

Rural renewable energy systems in Africa, India and Indonesia

Jim Dontje

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.

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".

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.

Weatherization: Local programs and Minnesota policies

Friday, August 10, 2018

Presenter: Kris Perendy, Minnesota Valley Action Council

Energy efficiency is an important part of meeting our energy needs with renewable sources. Please join us for an update and discussion of Minnesota weatherization programs and Minnesota Valley Action Council's services in Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan counties. Kris Perendy, Weatherization Coordinator for MVAC, will present at the forum. The program has evolved throughout the years to help clients save energy and stay safe in their homes.

Kris Perendy is the coordinator of the Weatherization Program at Minnesota Valley Action Council and has been a part of MVAC for the past 21 years. During her career, she has worked closely with many programs that are dedicated to helping people stay safe in their home, including the Energy Assistance Program, the Energy Related Repair Program, and Rehabilitation Loans. She has also worked intensively with numerous utility vendors, local HVAC contractors, and electricians by partnering up with them through several Conservation Improvement Programs that help our clients reduce their energy bills and allows them to protect the health and safety of their family members. Helping people, changing lives is an accurate description of the results that have been attained through our energy/housing programs at MVAC.

Mankato Area EV Charging Strategy Workshop

Monday, June 25, 2018

AmericInn Hotel & Conference Center, 240 Stadium Rd., Mankato

Workshop leader: Jukka Kukkonen, PlugIn Connect and Fresh Energy

This workshop is designed to provide real life information about PEVs and charging infrastructure for local stakeholders so they can make better educated decisions on the local charging infrastructure. We will also get the planning process started and you can then continue it locally the way you decide.

Participation is free and open to the public, but requires an RSVP at

This workshop is aimed towards: city personnel, county personnel, the lodging industry, fueling station operators, destination operators (parks, attractions, etc.), parking infrastructure owners/managers, commercial property managers (shopping, office, etc.), apartment building and condominium owners, developers, managers and HOA board members, sustainability managers, electricians, PEV owners and utility companies.

Legislative Forum

Friday, June 8, 2018

Hear area state legislators discuss energy issues and legislation that came out of the recent legislative session. What was accomplished? What wasn't accomplished? What would they like to see going forward?


  • Sen. Rich Draheim
  • Rep. Jack Considine
  • Rep. Jeremy Munson
  • Rep. Clark Johnson

Update on School Sisters of Notre Dame solar energy programs

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bill Ward, Facility Administrator for School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato, will be presenting the latest information on the Sisters' work towards supporting not only their campus in Mankato, but in offering opportunities for solar investment in the greater Mankato region.

Bill Ward has been Facility Administrator for School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato for 26 years. The Sisters' facilities include 660,000 sq. ft. of buildings on 146 acres in Mankato on Good Counsel Hill. For the last eight years, the Sisters have worked to put together a number of solar energy projects that support their commitment to sustainability and care for the earth.

Municipal power agencies and the changing energy landscape

Friday, April 13, 2018

Chris Schoenherr and Marcus Hendrickson of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency will discuss the challenges facing and the programs of the municipal power agencies in reducing energy use and moving towards clean energy sources.

Chris Schoenherr is the Director of Agency and Government Relations & Chief External Affairs Officer at Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. He joined SMMPA in January, 2015, with the primary responsibility of developing and managing relationships with members, legislators, legislative leadership, regulators and governmental agency staff. In addition, he oversees communications, human resource functions, demand side management initiatives, and non-operations center computer systems.

Marcus Hendrickson is an Energy Services Representative at Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. He is responsible for assisting Member utilities with delivery, implementation, and marketing of Demand-Side Management (DSM) Programs of the Agency and its Members. He provides DSM and energy efficiency technical support and assistance to Member utility personnel and their customers to coordinate and promote the high-efficiency residential and commercial DSM programs.

An Insider's Look at the Design and Development of Wind and Tidal Energy

Friday, March 9, 2018

Chuck Syverson will present a history of wind power in the U.S. since the middle of the 1970s from his experience in that field. He will also discuss his work on tidal energy in Maine’s Bay of Fundy.

Chuck Syverson has been a design and prototype building consultant on specialty motors and generators for the last 40 years. The bulk of his work since 1980 has been in alternative energy, including wind and tidal power generation and automotive efficiency. His clients have included General Electric, Rockwell International, Ford Motor, Pratt & Whitney, Ecoair and many others.

Chuck is named in approximately 30 patents to date. He earned his B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1961.

Among several current projects, Chuck is designing a 600 KW direct-drive generator for harvesting energy from the Gulf Stream and tidal flow basins as well working on specialized wheel motors for electric vehicles.

Update on Minnesota State University Mankato Sustainability Plan

Friday, February 9, 2018

View the presentation here.

Dr. Louis Schwartzkopf, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Minnesota State University Mankato, will discuss the University's Sustainability Plan.

Minnesota State Mankato’s carbon footprint has fallen 6.8% over a four-year period, largely because of actions by Facilities Management. The University’s new Dining Center has reduced waste by 92% and is collecting food waste for composting, a result of efforts by the Office of Residence Life. Many other Sustainability Initiatives have been undertaken on campus in the last few years. Sustainability efforts at Minnesota State Mankato are monitored by the Environmental Committee through the framework of the University’s Climate Action Plan.