solar and snow

Film, speakers, and tour the focus of Deep Portage Learning Center clean energy event

Connecting on Clean

Nearly fifty people attended the event in Hackensack, which featured a film screening and presentations on local clean energy projects, as well as community conversation and a tour of Deep Portage Learning Center’s clean energy installations.

The Power of Minnesota, a short documentary exploring how Minnesotans are building a clean energy economy that powers our communities and our state, was the first feature on the agenda.

How can CERTs help?

After the film, Melissa Birch, the coordinator for the Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT), shared a bit about how she can help residents, farmers, businesses, local governments, schools, and more learn about and work on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

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Melissa Birch

Going solar at home

Jim Ballenthin, a resident of the Hackensack Lakes Area, shared his own experience with residential solar. “It’s a good financial investment,” he emphasized. He and his wife also brought their electric vehicles to the event, giving participants the opportunity to see both a Chevy Bolt and a Tesla.

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Jim Ballenthin

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's solar efforts

Eugene Strowbridge, a Minnesota GreenCorps member based with the nearby Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, provided an overview of the Band’s impressive work on solar—both photovoltaics and solar furnaces. In particular, he highlighted two CERTs Seed Grant projects: a Solar Master Plan that has been completed for all government-owned buildings, and a broader sustainability plan that emphasizes solar readiness and overall sustainability of new and renovated buildings, and electric vehicle readiness.

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Eugene Strowbridge

Solar on Schools

Rounding out the presentations was Rachel Juritsch from the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), presenting on the Solar Schools project, in which solar was installed at the Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes schools, as well as on both campuses of Central Lakes College. To benefit students’ education directly, RREAL is now developing solar-focused curriculum aligned with the new education standards. The curriculum will be made available to interested schools.

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Rachel Juritsch

Touring clean energy at Deep Portage

After a lively group conversation, participants had the opportunity to tour Deep Portage’s wide array of clean energy projects. The center has implemented:

  • a variety of energy efficiency measures
  • is heated by a wood gasification system
  • offers views of solar of all sorts: solar hot water, solar furnaces, and solar electric (PV)
  • a wind turbine perches atop a nearby hill

Together, these made Deep Portage an ideal site for people to explore different technologies. The event was co-sponsored by CERTs, Deep Portage Learning Center, Cass County Izaak Walton League, Hackensack Lakes Area Community Foundation, and Hackensack Game Changers.

See all photos from the event and tour

Deep Portage Tour & Film Event

Speaker Presentations

Melissa Birch - CERTs Assistance
Jim Ballenthin - Solar & EV Owner
Eugene Strowbridge - Leech Lake Band
Rachel Juritsch - RREAL Solar Schools

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