St. Cloud

St. Cloud will be powered by 80% renewable energy by 2018

St. Cloud is one of eight communities in Minnesota recently recognized at the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The awards recognized communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by planning and implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. We spoke with Patrick Shea, St. Cloud’s Public Services Director, to learn more.

There seem to be a lot of exciting clean energy projects happening in St. Cloud. How did the city come up with its energy goals and projects?

Patrick Shea: The City has been recognized for sustainability and livability by several organizations including the State of Minnesota, U.S. EPA, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, and the International Awards for Livable Communities. This recognition is the result of a culture of continuous improvement in the operations of City Government. The City actively tracks energy use. This tracking highlighted the three highest uses of energy to be; Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment and Street Lighting. In 2014, developing and implementing projects to improve efficiency or convert to renewables were investigated.

You are a projected to go from 5% renewables in 2015 to a whopping 80% renewables in 2018. A lot of that looks to be solar. Can you tell us more about those projects?

Patrick Shea: St. Cloud adopted a resolution for a staff developed Solar Initiative in 2015 that includes four different elements/programs. The City will have nearly 19 million kilowatt hours per year of solar capacity on city buildings and subscriptions by the end of 2017.

  1. Behind the meter installations
  2. Made in Minnesota Program
  3. Community Solar Garden Subscriptions
  4. City Hosted Community Solar Garden

Obviously energy efficiency plays a substantial role in your plans. There seems to be a substantial amount of LED street lighting (not a surprise) but also biofuel (that is a surprise!) in your portfolio of projects.

Patrick Shea: The City owns and operates the regional wastewater treatment facility. It serves a total of 6 cities in Central Minnesota and is the highest energy use for the City. The project will recover biofuel in the form of methane and use it as a clean burning fuel. This system will be capable of running the entire facility and when supplemented with solar power; it may be the first facility in Minnesota to be completely energy independent.

Why was Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy program added to the mix?

Patrick Shea: The public is interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. Xcel’s Partner in Energy program is a creative way the City can work with neighborhood, business and institutional groups on energy related initiatives.

What clean energy projects do you foresee happening in St. Cloud in the near future?

Patrick Shea: The City is developing a high strength waste receiving system and related procedures to increase methane production that can used as part of the biofuel recovery system.

Also, the City is looking at opportunities for efficiency improvements in city facilities in 2017 and 2018. As part of the successful Street Light Improvement Project, a model has been developed to help facilitate these projects.

Lastly, the City is investigating how an energy management program within the Hydroelectric Utility can be developed to help fund projects or supplement planned projects to incorporate increased energy efficiency or renewable sources.

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Renewable Energy in St. Cloud by Liz Kramer

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